Floating data center: a ship full of servers

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As Data Center Knowledge reports, a proof-of-concept is currently being developed for a cargo vessel to be used as a dedicated data center. The effort is being led by International Data Security (IDS), a relatively new company, which began the project in 2008 but experienced financial setbacks until this month, when it announced that they are continuing the project. According to the article, Google also began designing a floating data center in 2008, but has not revealed any more information about the current status of this project.

The IDS is commandeering an old training ship from the California Maritime Academy to create a working prototype of its idea. Although the Navy has been deploying data centers on its combat vessels for many years, IDS would be creating the first ship that is specifically dedicated to housing a data center.

The first prototype vessel is not being built as a modular data center, although once the concept is proven, that may be the method of deploying servers throughout future ships. The benefits of having a dedicated data center at sea are that the ocean provides a natural coolant for heated servers, ships are supposedly less prone to natural land disasters like earthquakes and fires, and, as one commentator on the above article noted, a ship can travel and dock between states to take advantage of more favorable tax rates.

Although various practical hurdles still have to be overcome (another commentator noted that materials stored near ports can seep into a docked data center and potentially disrupt the electronics), floating server rooms are just one of many innovative ideas to cool and deploy data centers.

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