Google’s Floating Data Center Ability to Survive a Hurricane? Move it

DataCenterKnowledge points to ZDNet’s Larry Dignan in technical and economic discussion of Google’s floating data center.

Google’s design for floating data centers, described in a patent application, addresses many of the cost issues that make operating a data center so expensive. In Google’s concept, the ocean would provide most of the energy to power and cool the servers and equipment, while also eliminating expenses for real estate and property taxes. As Larry Dignan points out, the design addresses many of the budget-busting features of the modern data center. ”I’d call it brilliant engineering, but the financial engineering could be even more impressive,” Larry writes.

And Rich brings up a good issue of disaster survival.

Would a Google data barge be able to weather a hurricane? Or a tsunami? In the past two weeks hurricanes have struck both the Gulf and Atantic coasts of the U.S., and Hurricane Ike is on track to threaten the western Gulf later this week. At first glance, the Google data barges seem even more exposed than the data center cargo shipsproposed by IDC, which would be docked in harbors. 

The simple answer is to move it. Microsoft could also do the same thing for containers in a data center for a Tornado.  Based on conversations with Google guys who are smart and economically aware, my assumption is they made the tradeoff design decisions and designing in survivability for a Hurricane is not money well spent.

The filing also cites the mobile nature of the floating data center (and particularly the data center containers) as an advantage over traditional data centers. Google notes that “the mooring fields may be moved, such as when demand for computing or telecommunications power moves, when sea conditions change (e.g., seasonally) or when a time period for legal occupation of an area expires.”