- An underwater datacenter has proved to be more reliable than land-based ones
- An experiment by Microsoft revealed that the submerged databank had a failure rate of just one eighth of traditional centers
- Blockchain companies are used to technical innovation, so this finding could be right up their street
Microsoft has hailed as a success a two-year experiment to test the performance of a datacenter on the sea floor which could have ramifications for data storage in the future. The experiment, codenamed Project Natick, discovered that a lack of corrosive oxygen helped prolong the life of components in the center and that the seafloor offered a free, naturally occurring temperature control system. The findings will be of interest to data-heavy blockchain companies who, like thousands of companies worldwide, are looking for more effective ways to care for their datacenters.
Datacenter Success in the Deeps
Project Natick saw the huge cannister sunk to the bottom of the North Sea off the coast of Orkney, Scotland, in June 2018. The Microsoft datacenter, packed with 864 servers containing 27.6 petabytes of storage, was also filled with nitrogen, a naturally occurring gas that has been used in the past to improve reliability in hard drives.
The aim of the experiment was to see if conditions 117 feet beneath the surface would be better for data centers than those on land, where the perfect conditions have to be artificially created and maintained at great expense.
With a constant, cool temperature naturally on offer and a complete absence of corrosive oxygen, it was hoped that the data center would not just survive but thrive in its temporary home.
Ten days ago Microsoft raised the datacenter and found that, indeed, it had performed beautifully – the failure rate was just one eighth of that of land-based datacenters, leaving researchers working out how to apply certain principles from the experiment to land-based centers.
Could Blockchain Companies Benefit?
The concept of improved datacenter performance will naturally interest blockchain companies, for whom reliability and performance of servers is paramount. And given that blockchain and cryptocurrency companies love to push the envelope innovation-wise, from mining Bitcoin in disused metal mines to operating crypto storage solutions from inside mountains, not to mention streaming the Bitcoin blockchain from a satellite, who’s to say that there won’t be a blockchain company running operations underwater in a few years?