Back in 2018, Microsoft dropped a data centre into the sea, off the coast of Scotland’s Orkney Islands. This was part of an experiment to see if this was a better way to run data centres. The company recently published the result of its experiment, saying that, an underwater data centre is quite a good idea.
The company explains that on land, data centres are prone to going wrong in all sorts of ways. From corrosion due to exposure to oxygen and humidity, temperature fluctuations and even just getting bumped into by people. But dumping the data centres, sealed with nitrogen inside a big metal tube, into the sea solves all of these problems.
As a result, Microsoft says that the underwater data centres were eight times more reliable than similar ones on land. But it has to be, because repairing a data centre that’s sealed in a watertight container under the sea can be a pain, to say the least.
With the success of this experiment, Microsoft says it’s working on a couple of things. One is to replicate this sort of low failure rate on land data centres. Another is to scale up these underwater data centres, which may involve linking a dozen or so of them together.