Last June 2018, Microsoft announced the deployment of the first ever Azure datacenter hosted… underwater!
Microsoft is leveraging technology from submarines and working with pioneers in marine energy to develop self-sufficient underwater datacenters that can deliver lightning-quick cloud services to coastal cities. An experimental, shipping-container-size prototype is processing workloads on the seafloor near Scotland’s Orkney Islands.
The deployment of the Northern Isles datacenter at the European Marine Energy Centre marks a milestone in Microsoft’s Project Natick, a years-long research effort to investigate manufacturing and operating environmentally sustainable, prepackaged datacenter units that can be ordered to size, rapidly deployed and left to operate lights out on the seafloor for years.
Nearly one year after, what happened to the site in the Orkney Islands where the Azure datacenter was sunk?
This is a costal view of Orkney Islands in Scotland from last year, before the Azure datacenter was sunk.
The idyllic site enjoyed a tranquil environment, typical of islands in the northern sea. Just short of a year after, the transformation of the coast, caused by the increase in temperature in the water, is impressive.
What looked like a peaceful but still bleak and shabby landscape, became a lavish and green tropical ecosystem, rich in vegetation typically found at more southern latitudes.
This is how the same coast in the Orkney Islands site looks like today.
The transformation is significant. Several sand beaches have surged from the water, boasting impressive white sand and palm trees. A closer look to a beach nearby the Azure datacenter site seems taken from a tropical island in the Caribbean seas. You won’t believe this is actually Scotland!
There is a silver lining to every cloud (pun intended), though. The Orkney Islands are now enjoying a much milder climate and a boost in tourism. I know where I am going on holiday next!