Project Natick is now in its second phase, in which the data center is still physically hooked up to an onshore, renewable power source. It's been a while since we last heard from this initiative, called Project Natick, but now Microsoft has announced a major milestone for it.
"Future Natick research will explore directly powering a Natick datacenter by a co-located ocean-based green power system, such as offshore wind or tide, with no grid connection", reads an entry on the Microsoft website.
By plunging data centres in bodies of water near coastal cities, data would have short distances to travel to reach coastal communities.
The logic is sound: Bringing data centers close to hubs of computing power benefits customers, enabling smoother web surfing or game playing by cutting down the back-and-forth between users and servers.
Oceans also provide consistent cool temperatures which is essential for a data center to run well, cooling down data centers is what costs its operator (and the environment) heavily, so removing that cost makes sense too.
The Northern Isles data center consists of a 40-foot (12.2 metre) long white cylinder containing 864 servers - enough to store five million movies - and can lie on the seabed for up to five years.
In a bid to save the planet while making some money, Microsoft just drowned one of its data centers at sea. The servers are powered by renewable energy from tidal turbines and wave energy converters.
Overall, Microsoft's aims with Project Natick are not only to bring lower-latency cloud computing to a larger number of people - the company points out that nearly 50% of the world's population lives near coasts - but also to create a more environmentally friendly data centre.
More than half of the world's population lives within about 120 miles of the coast. The latest version is created to remain in operation without maintenance for up to five years.
Companies like Microsoft (msft) and Facebook (fb) that operate big data centers tend to spend a lot of money and effort in cooling the facilities, which can run very hot due to the tremendous amount of servers and gear that essentially power a large portion of the Internet.
During that time, the performance of the facility will be closely monitored, Microsoft wrote in a blog post outlining the project.