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Microsoft: the cloud’s future is underwater

November 2, 2018.

Project Natick.

Project Natick in Scotland. © Microsoft.

At Microsoft’s Future Decoded conference taking place in London, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that underwater server farms are part of the company's plans for future data centers. He cites the proximity of humans to water: half of the world's population lives within 200 km of a coast. Being closer to users ensures lower latencies. Low latencies are particularly important for real-time services such as Microsoft's forthcoming Xcloud game streaming service. The other big advantage Nadella cited is the speed at which servers can be deployed this way. No need for cost-intensive real estate and infrastructure: just submerge and plug in a pod full of servers. These pods are designed as a sealed unit, deployed underwater for five years before being brought back up to the surface and replaced. Naturally enough, the pod uses water cooling, another cost-saving benefit. One could imagine powering them with offshore windmills or even submarine water turbines that use tidal energy.

Ars Technica, “Satya Nadella: The cloud is going to move underwater.”