Just a conversation among friends....

The following is a sting of emails – which I have had to edit to protect the innocent (I also had to get it out of email string format and into a logical flow to read).  Now, all the people involved in commenting on this string are people I respect, for the knowledge and insight.  I just thought the subject matter was interesting and how the conversation flowed.

The Email that started it all from Darryl (no last names please)…

I think he must have watched 'WATERWORLD' over the holidays.  Actually, anchor one of these boats in the gulf, glue a big paddle wheel under the keel and you can put power back on the grid while running your data-center……………….

What's that there on the horizon? The Loch Ness monster? The Spanish Armada? No--it's a floating data center! As far fetched as it might sound, one company is betting its future on the floating data center, which would use one of the earth's most plentiful resources as a natural cooling agent. A new startup going by the name of International Data Security (IDS) has announced plans to launch a fleet of cargo ships housing off-shore data-centers. Allegedly, the ships would not only sell SAN and NAS storage services but would also offer business amenities like "private offices, overnight accommodations, and galley services." The ships will use sea water to cool the servers, totally eliminating the need for external cooling systems and reducing the total power consumption of the data centers by as much as 30 percent. According to a press release, IDS plans to launch as many as 50 of these ships worldwide and says that the first such vessel will appear at San Francisco's Pier 50 in April. While we've seen some green data centers before <http://lists.fiercemarkets.com/c.html?rtr=on&s=69l,wv4s,8m9,43qo,guiz,5nrj,5ur2> , I've got to say, this is probably the most far-out idea I've seen yet. What say you, landlubbing commenters: is this a brilliant idea or a mere pirate fantasy?

Response from Walt…

Well...heating up the Earth's oceans (faster than they already are) isn't exactly how I would define "green."

My second thought is that salt water is much more corrosive than fresh water.  That being the case, I wonder if they have taken maintenance into account.

My third thought is what satellite band they are using. Higher frequencies have a tough time burning through clouds, rain storms, hurricanes, etc. (think DirecTV during a heavy storm).

My fourth thought is power generation. I assume that they are going to use diesel generators, probably the least green fuel there is.

Contrast this approach with Sanyo's "Solar Ark," a dildo-shaped building using rejected solar cells that generates 500,000 KWh per year. (http://www.inhabitat.com/2008/01/14/solar-ark-worlds-most-stunning-solar-building/)

Put a data center in here and you have the power. Use the heated water to drive a steam turbine and generate even more energy.

Response from Me…

I think Captain Nemo tried this already ;-(

Response from BJ…

I can see it now - the offshore data center ships taken over by data pirates.  Data center ships off the coast of South America inhabited by drug cartels, complete with financial trading/laundering - maybe even creating their own currencies for trading with other cartels.  Data center ships in the Caspian sea inhabited by Russia hackers....  This will be the core of William Gibson's next cyber novel.

Imagine the possibilities of running data outsite of all national boundaries - creating data havens just like Stephenson described in Kryptonomicom (sp) 5 yrs ago.


Response from Me…

Why not just make the Satellite the datacenter - from what I understand, there's lots of power available (solar) and cooling shouldn't be a problem, space is cold. If done properly, there would be just a small request (in data bits) going up, the processing happens in the datacenter, then there is just a little bit of data coming back down.  Physical security shouldn't be a problem (not too many people looking to break into the space station, they probably leave the doors unlocked).  And virtual security is no different no matter where your datacenter is located - hackers want in, you want to keep them out.

So, I suggest we start a company to build datacenters in space - or maybe have the first datacenter on the moon!!

Response from Walt…

Actually, that's not a bad idea. Cost to set up might be quite high (but coming down all the time). Swapping out a blade might be expensive...


Response from Me...

Hey, maybe there's a process patent in there someplace!!  As far as swapping out blades, I bet you could train one of those shuttle astronauts to pull and replace a server - all you really need are smart hands.  Also, what is you staffed it with someone, they had to be up there a year, but you paid like 5 years of salary - I bet you'd get takers for it.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I bet someone is already planning it right now.  There are plenty of private "space ports" or government space ports to take off from - and how cool would the company look that actually did it (you couldn't pay for that kind of exposure).  I think we should start a prediction poll on this one ;-)

Response from BJ…

The interesting part will be the connectivity to and from these offshore data center sites - probably satellite uplinks to some renegade satellite, then down to terrestrial locations in a loosely regulated country or down to other offshore data centers, then pirate dedicated circuits out to where they can link to multiple isp vendors. 


Response from Me…

OK, along this theme of "out in the ocean" -- how about offshore oil rigs that are no longer in use.  They would provide the same benefits of being outside the internal territory waters - ruled by no national government - and no taxes dues to anyone for services rendered.  There has to be at least one platform out there that's not being used - and would have the same ability to "draw" deep water up for cooling.  Really, all you would need to do is have a series of pipes that go down a thirty or forty feet into cool water and bring it back up (it could be a completely closed system - use fresh water, use the water outside the pipes for cooling) - solar and/or wind for power.

But I like the book idea - let's write it and distribute it as an ebook - and become internet millionaires!!


1 comment:

  1. Why not have data centers in Fargo, ND or Green Bay, WI?
    1. The weather is cold.
    2. Land is cheap
    3. Labor is cheap
    4. You don't have to worry about terrorist attacks, earthquakes and floods (why anyone puts a data center in the bay area is beyond me)


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