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Cloud Microsoft Networking Hardware IT

Microsoft Serves Cloud From the Sea Bed (datacenterdynamics.com) 104

judgecorp writes: A Microsoft Research project to run a data center underwater was so successful the team actually delivered commercial Azure cloud services from the module, which was 1km off the US Pacific coast for three months. The vessel, dubbed Leona Philpot after a Halo character, is a proof of concept for Project Natick, which proposes small data centers that could be submerged for five years or more, serving coastal communities.
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Microsoft Serves Cloud From the Sea Bed

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  • Sorry (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2016 @10:39AM (#51413731)

    Sorry for hijacking this article, but I would like to say that since the latest takeover, we have seen much higher quality articles than we saw pre-takeover. The articles all appear to follow the "News for Nerds. News that matters." tagline that Slashdot used to follow. It is early, but I am cautiously optimistic that things are getting better.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'm pretty sure it's a cognitive bias rather than a real pattern you have spotted there.
    • It can't keep up. Timothy has posted every single article since early Thursday. He will have to sleep at some point. The new overlords must be holding his family hostage.

  • by The Evil Atheist ( 2484676 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @10:40AM (#51413743) Homepage
    That's your answer to everything.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    they're going to sink the cloud. Congrats, I suppose.

  • by dfn5 ( 524972 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @10:49AM (#51413843) Journal
    ...but I don't see any Windows on that capsule.
  • Open Waters.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @10:49AM (#51413845)

    Maintenance must be a killer... Having to dive to fix a problem. I am not even making fun of Microsoft track record of less than stellar reliability to make 5 years of uptime seem possible.
    But connections to the systems, Cable get corroded or broken.
    Pirates you have millions of dollars of equipment under the sea mostly unguarded. If they may want to bring it up to steal and sell the hardware... Or they could hack into it the hard way (To get information from it)

    • Re:Open Waters.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @10:55AM (#51413905) Journal
      It's full of spares and with current virtualization technology they will never need to do this. They have already been doing this 'pod' concept above ground for years.
    • Re:Open Waters.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by knightghost ( 861069 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @10:58AM (#51413941)

      Modern data center modules no longer require physical maintenance. You load up on redundancy based on MTTF, turn it on, administer remotely, then replace the entire thing in 5 or so years. Redundancy and replacement is cheaper than maintenance.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2016 @11:08AM (#51414037)
        That sounds like the current corporate mindset towards IT workers as well.
      • That sounds more like wishful thinking and marketing hype than reality.

        Because I know people who routinely deal with situations where people go into data centers to fix stuff.

        See, if you build that much redundancy you have to pay for it up front. And in my experience, companies aren't that forward looking.

        The hands off data center entirely done remotely? What percent of real situations does that describe? I'm betting it's pretty low.

    • New IT requirement, SCUBA certification.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I agree. I also have to say that this qualifies for the "just because something is difficult to do, does not mean it's worth doing" award. I honestly do not get the fucking point. They say it's to potentially serve remote areas. With what ? A can under the ocean, with some servers and drives in it? I mean, if it has a fiber line going to the local network on the island or whatever, OK, you have your connectivity to land, but what about everywhere else? Are they gonna splice into an intercontinen
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by The-Ixian ( 168184 )

        Yeah, something tells me that if this was Apple or Google doing this, the sentiment would be a lot different...

        • Perhaps for some, but not for me. Now it may be that there is a perfectly good application, and I just need to understand it better. But for me, I don't understand its value, regardless of who's developing it.
          • pros:

            1. cooling is not an issue (it's cool!)
            2. immune to all surface weather and earthquakes
            3. no property taxes and no land lord

            cons:

            1. sharks

            Looks like the pros win!

            • cons:
              2. Pirates
              3. Russian Subs
              4. American Subs
              5. Depth chargers

              International waters are rather lawless areas. The US Navy may attempt to protect it from someone else (Microsoft being an american company) however they are under no obligation to do so.

            • by saider ( 177166 )

              Earthquakes have no effect under water?!?

      • I had the same basic question, "What is the benefit here?" Skimming through the linked article, there is a sort of an answer:

        Underwater data centers can be cooled by the surrounding water, and could also be powered by wave or tidal energy

        I don't know if it's really much more efficient than having normal cooling systems and power generated by an external tidal power system, but it might not be completely pointless and stupid.

        • by jafiwam ( 310805 )

          I had the same basic question, "What is the benefit here?" Skimming through the linked article, there is a sort of an answer:

          Underwater data centers can be cooled by the surrounding water, and could also be powered by wave or tidal energy

          I don't know if it's really much more efficient than having normal cooling systems and power generated by an external tidal power system, but it might not be completely pointless and stupid.

          The wave or tidal energy part makes it a zero sum side effect on the local environment.

          If energy comes to you via waves or tides, it is expended via friction, changes in potential energy, sound and vibration, etc. and ends up as heat.

          If you take that energy, use it, and expel it as heat, you don't change a whole lot. The specific location of that heat, and perhaps delay it a little bit.

          True, if you are piping in electricity from land somewhere, you do heat the ocean around the pod some. Based on wha

      • by gfxguy ( 98788 )

        I don't understand the complaint about internet connectivity; aside from connecting to the people on land using such a data center, their internet connectivity would be the same as it's always been. I don't think these are necessary for remote areas, but in that instance, it would be a localized data center, perhaps because there's slow, or no, internet connectivity. And the benefit would be a modular system that is passively water cooled (dramatically lowering power requirements), which seems to ideally

        • Interesting. I didn't intend on writing this to be an anti-Microsoft thing, but you're the second person to reply assuming I was. I was not intending on bashing Microsoft just as a reflex. Sure, I'm guilty of criticizing some of their less desirable traits, but I do the same for Apple, Google, Facebook, etc.

          Now you may be right, of course, but here's where my (perhaps limited) mind is taking me: OK, so you connect local folks to this submarine data center. What can it have in it? Maybe a f
          • by Rob Y. ( 110975 )

            Interesting arguments. Maybe this project is just a PR stunt. It sounds cool and forward looking, and maybe it's being publicized to make Azure (which, face it, has a huge marketing budget) seem cool. I think Amazon's 60 Minutes puff piece on delivery drones falls into this category, so why not undersea data centers - and self-driving cars for that matter, Google...

            I have no doubt the underlying projects have some serious futurists supporting them inside these huge corporations, but perhaps even that sup

          • by gfxguy ( 98788 )

            Passive water cooling is simply a whole lot easier, and with these units you can just "drop" them in and pick them up later on... If you're not near water, these units are pointless, but if you are, it's still a lot easier. If you're talking about a remote location, I'm think along the lines of research where your data center is local instead of only accessible over a slow internet connection. You drop a unit somewhere, collect data for a few years, then pull it all back to analyze.

            Even just in general, a

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            If it helps, my first thought was CDN.

    • Open waters are asking for trouble:

      1: Legal issues. If the data center is located even remotely near international waters, that data center then belongs to who has the biggest guns. Plus, it doesn't take much for someone to destroy it out of spite. Unlike the land where there can be guards or at least a few Knightscope models to look for trespassers, sea patrols are pretty expensive.

      2: People forget about barnacles and other critters calling intake ducts home. These things can clog pipes up very quick

  • So their portable data center is about the size of a container. Why not put it on dry land? Certainly renting ground the size of a container from someone has to be cheaper than running undersea cables. This seems like a stunt, not a business plan.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2016 @11:13AM (#51414077)

      So their portable data center is about the size of a container. Why not put it on dry land? Certainly renting ground the size of a container from someone has to be cheaper than running undersea cables. This seems like a stunt, not a business plan.

      But this is a sunk cost.

      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Kyont ( 145761 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @01:56PM (#51415437)

        But this is a sunk cost.

        Even so, on this whole investment, they must be... underwater.

        The project is probably run by someone young, who is still... wet behind the ears.

        Sorry. I'm just... fishing for karma. I'll say goodbye now... *waves*

    • by Anonymous Coward

      One of the major costs of running a data center is keeping it cool. It's always cool (relatively speaking) underwater. You could pump sea water to a land-based data center, but that requires pumps, pipes, etc that need maintenance and extra power.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Monday February 01, 2016 @11:19AM (#51414141)

      Cold ocean water transfers heat away from the container much more efficiently than warm air would. A cable might be more expensive than rent, but is it more expensive than rent + air conditioning?

    • Actually... if you don't have to pay someone for land, then you are only paying for the data link going to the container(s)...

      I would imagine that link *could* be cheaper than land cost in some places. Plus you never really have to worry about hurricanes or earthquakes wrecking your equipment.

      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        There are earthquakes in the ocean, and anchors cut cables on a distressingly regular basis.

  • by judgecorp ( 778838 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @11:21AM (#51414163) Homepage
    Microsoft has put a video on Youtube, and a new blog [post about Natick today. They are both linked from my article. http://www.datacenterdynamics.... [datacenterdynamics.com] The Youtube video is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] Peter Judge
  • Old News (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sir Holo ( 531007 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @11:57AM (#51414529)

    This is really old news. Using deep-ocean installations to nominally negate the costs of cooling in data centers had been around forever.

    And energy-harvesting by use of undersea currents, tidal motions, or hydrothermal vents has been around forever, too. (Geothermal energy, anyone?)

    This article has nothing new, but its author's suggestion that co-locating the 'pod'-type data centers near undersea thermal-emission sites is flat-out stupid. An umbilicus to land, eventually to an internet trunk-line is required. We can pipe around photons and electrons with ease. So why, oh why, was the writer forced to fill column-space with this nit-witted statement?

    There are plenty of reasons to emplace various things at-depth in our oceans, simply for the heat-removal aspect alone. Below 400 m it's all pretty much below -3C. Using service-life maintenance-free modules is a great idea —It is not new.

  • Welcome to Davy Jones BitLocker matey!

  • Really Microsoft can't you figure out a better way to cool a stack of servers? Also the waste heat could be used better, like warming a pond for fish to live in. A mile off shore? What's the point.
  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @02:06PM (#51415501)
    We can expect more 'accidental' NSA anchor drops on cables if this ramps up into production.

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