Home Technology Microsoft has created a portable Azure datacentre

Microsoft has created a portable Azure datacentre

2 min read

Our computing future is in the cloud, we all know this. The problem though is that for many people in Africa is one of latency, making viable use of data-centres unviable for many. One of the reasons for this is the massive expenses that go into building these traditionally large datacentres which are usually located in large cities. That doesn’t help many of the rural communities around the world.

Microsoft is working to try and reduce both the datacentre size footprint and the distance problem through its new datacentre designs. We’ve previously seen how a submerged datacentre located in Scotland proved successful in testing, which will allow for the company to submerge many smaller datacentres around the world, but now they’ve also created a set of portable data centres, which will allow the company to roll out them out to more remote places far more easily.

These new Azure Modular Datacentres (MDC) are all housed in a radio frequency (RF) shielded unit, meaning it could operate in challenging climates and will access the internet through a partnership with various satellite companies. The portable units have all the cooling required and will have backup generators for when someone at Eskom decides to ignore maintenance and the power goes out. Admittedly, satellite technology will still make the latency a little high, but could still be a more effective solution for bringing datacentres closer to the more remote communities, as manager of Microsoft’s Azure Global Industry Sovereign Solutions, Bill Karagounis reveals:

Around the world, there are significant cloud computing and storage needs in areas with adverse conditions, where low communication, disrupted network availability and limited access to specialized infrastructure would have previously prevented taking advantage of cloud computing. The MDC solves this by bringing Azure to these environments, providing datacentre scale compute resources closest to where they are needed.

I really like where Microsoft is going with this technology. The biggest issue with most cloud services at the moment for many of us is latency with far too many datacentres being located outside the continent and if we can get more of these placed around the world, it reduces a lot of the latency problems while also empowering many rural communities to take advantage of cloud technology for their businesses. It is still early days, but hopefully, this technology can improve, become more affordable and scale to meet the needs of the world in the near future.

Last Updated: October 22, 2020

One Comment

  1. Conan the Barbarian

    October 23, 2020 at 09:35

    Security is bound to be a problem if this is just parked somewhere and left unguarded.
    Satellite internet is also really high latency:

    “Typically, during perfect conditions, the physics involved in satellite communications account for approximately 550 milliseconds of latency round-trip time. The longer latency is the primary difference between a standard terrestrial-based network and a geostationary satellite-based network.”

    The only way I see them using satellite internet being faster, is if the consumer is already on satellite internet due to really, really bad infrastructure. Parking this next to an exchange or cellphone tower could make this really useful though.


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