Microsoft Considering Underwater Data Centre Launches

  • Microsoft is currently evaluating the long-term prospects of underwater data centres in an attempt to improve operational efficiency and quality of service.
  • The company is attempting to maximise the potential benefits derived from the successful implementation of such an operation.
  • This newly discovered method of storing data could have massive implications for the value of Microsoft stock.

The research teams at Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) are currently formulating a plan called Project Natick, that involves the construction of data centres in the depths of the ocean. Despite the fact that it may appear completely nonsensical to submerge a large cylinder containing electronic components underwater, the testing, that was conducted with a prototype data center appears to suggest that such a project is, in fact, viable, as storing data underwater may eliminate the need for cooling systems.

A prototype data centre recently completed its trial period at a depth level of 30 feet in Central California, after a period of 105 days. The 38,000-pound steel capsule, which measures 8 feet in diameter, was remotely controlled from Microsoft’s base in Redmond and is said to have exceeded the company’s expectations.

In essence, data centres are dedicated spaces consisting of ICT infrastructures that are responsible for powering the World Wide Web. These infrastructures, more typically known as computer servers, generate significant amounts of heat, which therefore requires additional amounts of energy to keep these systems cool so as to prevent system crashes. Finding a solution to this problem is by no means an easy task, which poses the type of challenge that appeals to the research team at Microsoft, who are widely regarded as experts at crafting up unconventional solutions to some of the world’s difficult problems. Ben Cutler, the project manager for Project Natick, stated:

“We take a big whack at big problems, on a short-term basis. We take a look at something from a new angle, a different perspective, with a willingness to challenge conventional wisdom.”

The creation of sealed underwater vessels was instigated by the ever-increasing need for cloud computing, which in itself involves groups of networked computers performing various tasks, such as storing, processing and/or distributing huge amounts of information. The performance of the aforementioned tasks requires huge amounts of power gathered from renewable energy sources, in the same way as windmills utilise energy from the wind.

In the case of underwater data centers, the waves or tidal power would be used as a source of renewable energy. As more organisations begin to embrace cloud computing, the need for systems that are capable of accommodating information storage, processing and distribution increase exponentially, resulting in greater global demand. The greater the proximity of data centers to living populations, the smaller the likelihood of “latency”, a term used to describe a time interval (delay) between the input into a system and the desired outcome. This translates into faster web browsing, downloads and games for the population.

The trial was conducted not only to investigate the possibility of eliminating the need for cooling  but also to test whether there are any potential environmental benefits to be gained. According to Microsoft, if these data centres could be colocated with renewable energy sources that are situated offshore, then there is the possibility of producing zero emissions.

Despite the potential advantages that these underwater data centres may provide, there are some concerns and, in particular, the impact of a large data center cluster on the marine ecosystem as a whole. These supercomputers generate large amounts of heat which could pose a serious threat to marine life. Cool underwater conditions are critical for marine life, as increased temperatures spur an increase in zooplankton (microscopic animals that graze on plants) and bacteria. This tilts the underwater food chain, translating into less food for the other grazers such as fish and seahorses, on which many livelihoods depend.

On the other hand, however, the introduction of data centres and its emerging influence on the process of cloud computing is not something to be ignored. Microsoft is looking to take advantage of this as consumer demand for cloud services rise. Therefore, in that regard, Microsoft stock price looks set for positive growth. The company reported an encouraging second-quarter earnings report this year, with revenues of $25.69 billion, which surpassed the analyst estimate of $25.26 billion. Additionally, the EPS stood at 0.78, which was also greater than the analyst’s prediction of $0.71 per share.

Despite a very brief period of share-price decline in the month of August 2015, shareholders can generally be pleased due to the overall gradual increase from March of last year until present. Microsoft stock is currently trading at $50.16.

MSFT stock chart

Source: Microsoft Stock Price Data by amigobulls.com

Ultimately, this out-of-the-box method for storing data could provide an upsurge in the value of Microsoft stock. The earnings stream could be set to increase due to the advent of this technology amplified by increased cloud computing. This makes the Microsoft stock an increased priority for investors and going by the latest earnings reports, shareholders could be set for major gains.

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