Under the Sea

These days it would seem that everyone is trying to cut costs by being more energy efficient. You probably relate to this by ensuring your TVs and computers are turned off each evening, and using energy efficient lighting.


Microsoft logo


But Microsoft are on top of their game and have found a new way in which to maximise renewable energy...under the sea! “Darling it’s better, down where it’s wetter” (sorry, we had to do that). Just like the Little Mermaid song, Microsoft believe that the sea floor is full of wonderful opportunities and that is why they have deployed a data centre off the Scottish islands of Orkney.


Why, you ask yourselves? The simple reason being that the conditions at the bottom of the sea are much cooler than on dry land, therefore, slashing the costs of transmitting data. Known as Project Natick, the white cylinder containing computers was manufactured in France before being transported from Brittany to Stromness in Orkney where it was sunk.


A cable connected to the cylinder provides power to the data centre and transports the data back to shore. Sounds simple enough to us. However, the downside to this venture is that if the computers inside the centre break then they are unrepairable. That’s a worrying thought. Imagine going to all that trouble for the system to break and the experiment coming to a complete halt. So the question that we at Hopewiser ask ourselves is, is it actually more cost-effective to operate data centres underwater? Bearing in mind that you run the risk of having to fork out for an entire new system if the software breaks. Project leader, Ben Cutler hopes that the risk of failure will be lower than it would be on land.


If project Natick is a success, then Microsoft aim to deploy groups of five data centres in the space of just 90 days from production to sinking. Apparently, it would take much longer to do this on shore. Sounds like they have it all worked out. But why Orkney in particular? What is so special about these islands? Well, the managing director at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), Neil Kermode, praises the organisation’s knowledge of the seas around Orkney. He claims, “We’ve got so much renewable energy here. We’ve produced more than we need since 2012.”.


Computer cables


There are, however, some slightly more sceptical views about Microsoft’s new venture. Professor Ian Bitterlin, who has 30 years of experience in data centre consultancy feels as though the environmental impact of the project will have a detrimental effect on the area. He believes that it will simply result in warmer water and bigger fish. Good day for the local fishermen, eh?


Whether the project is a success and if the fish swimming around the islands get any larger remains to be seen. You can stay tuned for further updates on the Microsoft website. Whilst we haven’t pondered with the thought of sinking a data centre as of yet, Hopewiser is very data conscious and we provide a number of services that provide you with good, clean, and accurate data. Take our address cleanse service as an example. You can simply upload your company’s data to our website, and our system cleanses and deduplicates your files into a nice and neat format. That’s right, no more deceased or goneaway records lurking below decks. Get in touch today via our website, social media pages, or telephone 0161 924 2800.