Have you ever wondered where all the humongous amount of data available on the internet comes from? The answer is Oceans. Allow me to first explain the context before you raise questions.
The information that we receive on our browsers is fed to the search engines by various computers present on the web. This data is stored in data centers that are underwater infrastructures located mainly in oceans, seas, or lakes.
Underwater data centers are advanced buildings built specifically to serve the purpose of storing and commuting output with utmost accuracy and efficiency. One can think of them as big sci-fi machines with neon lights that are working 24/7 for getting input and propose output.
The following article will brief you on the whole subject. But let’s start with answering the basic question- How do these data giants work?
1. How Do These Data Giants Work?
These data centers are built in watertight containers that can withstand the underwater environment. These specially designed containers are typically made of corrosion-resistant materials and sealed to prevent water ingress.
Such precautions are very important for the proper working of the computer system as any harm to its component may lead to breaking the whole data flow. Special heed is paid to the model design for increasing the efficiency and overall life of the storage unit.
The containers after passing through safety checks, are then transported to the desired location, usually in coastal areas or bodies of water. They are then submerged underwater by using cranes or other specialized equipment.
1.3 Power Supply
For any such sophisticated system to operate, it needs a stabilized power source. Companies power their units by either connecting them to the electrical grid onshore or they may utilize renewable energy sources such as tidal, wave, or wind power.
1.4 Cooling System
With such great traffic of information flow and processing being done on a large scale; The data centers tend to generate a great amount of heat. This heat can hamper the working of the machine as it comprises various temperature-dependent working units.
But this issue is very well dealt with as the water bodies provide natural cooling for the system. Typically, heat generated by the servers and other equipment is transferred to the surrounding water, which helps maintain lower temperatures and improves energy efficiency. Additional cooling mechanisms, such as heat exchangers or liquid cooling systems are also used if needed.
Underwater data centers can function only when connected to the surface for data transmission and communication. This is achieved commonly through underwater cables that connect the data center to the land-based network infrastructure.
It is not the normal telephone cable that we are talking about. The cables used in underwater data centers are designed to withstand the underwater environment and ensure reliable data transfer even in calamities like floods or tsunamis.
Regular maintenance and occasional repairs may be required for underwater data centers as they are prone to damage from the surrounding water. This can involve remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) or divers equipped with specialized tools to access and service the submerged containers.
1.7 Security Measures
Putting underwater data centers to their full use also raises the risk of data breaches and even physical tampering. Various physical security measures like tamper-resistant containers, and surveillance systems are put to use. Data encryption, firewalls, and other cybersecurity measures are also implemented to safeguard against digital threats.
1.8 Monitoring and Management
Continuous monitoring and management systems are required to oversee the operation and performance of the underwater data center. The company monitors not only the temperature and humidity but also the power usage, network connectivity, and other key metrics to ensure optimal functioning.
2. What are They Used For?
Among the huge spectrum of utilities that the data systems serve, we have briefed out a few of the commonly cited ones.
Underwater data centers can act as edge nodes for CDNs (Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) for allowing faster content delivery to users located near coastal areas. By storing frequently accessed data closer to end users we aim at reducing latency (time lapse between request from the user and output from the computer).
Underwater data centers can function as secure backup and disaster recovery sites for critical data. By storing copies of data in a physically separate and protected location we can ensure their safety in the event of natural disasters or other disruptions.
Underwater data centers are a great take towards scientific research and exploration activities in marine biology, oceanography, and deep-sea study.
3. Challenges Faced
Constructing such state-of-the-art systems come with its struggles and complications. It takes a great deal of working and building to get a well-versed functional data center running under the land.
3.1 Temperature Management
Underwater data centers generate heat of huge magnitude and it becomes challenging to maintain the required appropriate temperatures, which is crucial for their proper functioning.
Efficient cooling systems must be developed to dissipate heat and prevent overheating. Scientists also need to consider the unique environment and the surrounding water which may pose a threat to sophisticated machinery.
Underwater data centers must be designed to withstand high water pressures and remain waterproof. The structures need to be strong enough to resist leaks and potential damage caused by water pressure at various depths of the ocean.
3.3 Network Building
Another issue faced by the developers is the establishment of reliable and high-speed connectivity between underwater data centers and the surface network.
Transmitting data through the water medium requires specialized infrastructure and communication technologies. We need to devise technologies that can handle the limitations of underwater signals and produce the required output.
3.4 Maintenance and Repairs
Maintaining underwater data centers is a complex and costly affair. It comes with such a price tag mainly due to the Avant-grade methodologies involved in the process. Be it skilled divers or advanced remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), maintenance of such systems is both crucial as well as challenging. The present research is focused on minimizing the time expenditure on the servicing ventures to reduce the overall cost.
3.5 Continuous Power Requirement
Providing a stable power supply to underwater data centers that are buried deep within the oceans and seas is a major problem.
Scientists today rely on renewable energy sources such as tidal or wave power, solar energy, or underwater turbines to fulfill the power requirement. But these sources pose a challenge due to their limited availability and lesser researched expertise in the field.
5. All in all…
Unlike telepathic communication, underwater data centers are not a hypothetical concept. They are being used today in a multitude of various niches and are of great help to the IT industry.
At present, we are interested in the research and development of the sector as it would open doors to numerous other areas of scientific innovations. We are standing at the dawn of a new era of innovations and a mind-blowing science revolution.