Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Microsoft's Underwater Data Centers

The technology industry is always evolving as market leaders strive to have the most efficient systems. Recently, Microsoft launched the first underwater data center to improve energy productivity and increase computer speeds for customers. Data centers on land are often located in rural areas and exhaust resources to keep computers from overheating. The article I read from CNN Money highlights the important advancement these underwater computer pods bring to the technology world. The article points out the importance of “cloud” storage today through the use of data centers. The current standard for data centers is to place them in rural areas where land is cheap. Placing a data center in the ocean cuts down on costs and provides a natural way to keep computer systems from over heating while harnessing energy from the water. Additionally, the article points out the decrease in production time with this technology. Normally, a data center takes 2 years to build but Microsoft’s new pods take just 90 days and are built out of recycled materials. The initial trial of this experiment proved to be so successful that Microsoft is planning on expanding this technology. Soon, other data storage industry leaders will be harnessing this same natural energy source.
              While the CNN article covering this story had a video clip, it contained far fewer details compared to the New York Times article I read after. The New York Times highlights Microsoft as a company more, adding context about its current business environment. CNN gives fewer details and fails to mention the overall standing of Microsoft in today’s market. The company missed a major opportunity in staying out of the mobile phone industry which is why Microsoft is striving to be a front-runner on the newest revolution—cloud technology. For years, Apple has dominated the industry, creating the best and newest computers, tablets, phones, and watches. Microsoft recognizes as a company that it cannot afford to miss out on opportunities of innovation and growth. These new underwater data centers help Microsoft standout as an industry front-runner and increase their competitive advantage. The CNN article only touches on the prospective environmental impacts of this technology assuring readers that the pod will not increase ocean temperatures or harm fish living in the water. The New York Times again goes much further into these potential problems by interviewing environmental experts involved with this project. Since the technology used in this experiment is new, no one can truly predict the long-term impacts of underwater data centers. If ocean water destroys them in any way, servers could fail or customer information could be lost. While threats of destruction exist in above-ground data centers, the ocean poses more of a risk. Despite these concerns, the future of this technology as well as the future of Microsoft look promising.    


1 comment:

  1. I believe that this is huge news for Microsoft and the world of technology. I think that it is extremely innovative of Microsoft to switch to water based data centers rather than rural data centers. However, although not mentioned, I believe that there are many hidden risks involved in this idea. Firstly and the most obviously, Juliana touched on the fact that if ocean water destroys these data servers we will lose all information and data. Secondly, we do not yet know if having data servers in water have long term effects on the ocean and sea life. Also, I think that there is always a risk that people may steal pieces of the data center from the bottom of the ocean (you never know). And finally, maintenance on these data centers would become extremely difficult as well as expensive. Otherwise, cool idea Microsoft.


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