In the spring of 2018, Microsoft began a test related to the underwater deployment of server equipment. A data center with 864 servers and 27.6 PB storage was placed in the waters of the Scottish Sea at a depth of about 35 meters. This summer, Microsoft brought a container covered in seaweed and shells to the surface, completing a multi-year proof-of-concept experiment to build underwater data warehouses to optimize logistics, sustainability and savings.
Over the past two years, Microsoft engineers have monitored the performance and reliability of subsea data center servers. Upon completion of testing, the experts concluded that subsea datacenter hosting has several advantages over land-based server hosting.
An experiment called Microsoft Project Natick has proven that sealed servers placed under water will create more economical and reliable storage. When placed on the ground, server equipment is damaged as a result of temperature disturbance and corrosion caused by oxygen and humidity.
In a submerged position, it is easier to control the temperature, which is constant and low at sufficient depth. As a result, subsea data centers can be deployed along the coastal line, providing local access to cloud resources at multiple locations as close as possible to the consumer.
Based on the results of the experiments, Microsoft engineers concluded that the number of failures in the underwater center is eight times less than with a traditional ground location. This is extremely important for subsea-based servers, as maintenance requires the removal of an airtight container from the ocean floor.
In the next phase of Microsoft Project Natick, engineers will try to prove that submarine servers at end-of-life can be easily retrieved and scrapped.