Published in PC Hardware

Microsoft's underwater datacenter dreams sink

by on25 June 2024

Project Natick takes a dive

Software King of the World Microsoft has decided to pull the plug on its audacious Project Natick—a daring experiment that involved submerging a datacenter capsule a 120 miles off the rugged coast of Scotland.

Vole wanted to explore the wild and woolly world of underwater data centres.

Project Natick's saga began in the misty annals of 2013, when tech visionaries donned their metaphorical wetsuits and embarked on a three-month trial in the Pacific.

Buoyed by its initial success, they unleashed a submersible data centre capsule into the chilly embrace of the Scottish abyss in 2018. The capsule harboured 855 servers.

When the capsule resurfaced in 2020, dripping with secrets and seaweed, only six servers had died during its watery sojourn. Meanwhile, a parallel experiment on Terra firma saw eight servers bite the dust out of a total of 135.

Vole said that seawater stability and a dash of inert nitrogen gas—the data center's VIP bodyguards—kept the servers shipshape.

However, the captain of the Cloud Operations + Innovation Noelle Walsh (CO+I) division said that he was “not building subsea data centres anywhere in the world."

He said that the lessons from this aquatic escapade would not be flushed away. They would be repurposed for other cases, like deciphering the mysteries of server vibrations and deep-sea server etiquette.

Last modified on 25 June 2024
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