Microsoft Sinks Data Centre off Orkney

The project involves sinking a data centre to investigate whether it can create a more energy efficient database.

If the project proves to be a success, the data centre could sit on the sea floor for up to five years and could potentially revolutionise the way we store data.

Orkney was chosen for its already major renewable energy centre. The site has been producing an excess of energy since 2012 and is an industry leader for renewable energy.

“We think we actually get much better cooling underwater than on land,” says Ben Cutler, who is in charge of what Microsoft has dubbed Project Natick.

“Additionally because there are no people, we can take all the oxygen and most of the water vapour out of the atmosphere which reduces corrosion, which is a significant problem in data centres.”

The Setbacks

The operation to sink the Orkney data centre has been an expensive multinational affair.

An undersea cable brings the data centre power and takes its data to the shore and the wider internet – but if the computers on board break, they cannot be repaired.

It will not be possible to repair the computers if they fail, but the hope is that there will be a lower failure rate than on land.

This is a tiny data centre compared with the giant sheds that now store so much of the world’s information, just 12 racks of servers but with enough room to store five million movies.

Now, the Project Natick team will monitor the data centre for the next five years. It could turn out to be a signpost to the future – or maybe just a tourist attraction for passing fish.

Other Options

For some companies, spending that much money on a data centre might feel like you’re just throwing money into the ocean, but there are other options.

Both shared and dedicated hosting servers are available to smaller businesses, and both are options that are immediately available to all Linix customers for a small fee.

All servers are full redundant ensuring continuation of service at all times with RAID being run on all devices and have the option to keep regular backups of your websites.

And if you that is a wash-out, consider using Linix Cloud Backup Suite. This is an advanced client-server and cloud backup solution for businesses.

If you’d like to learn more about what options are available to you and your data storage, contact a member of our team today.