It may not be what Google has in mind, but data centers are operating offshore today, on shallow- and deep-water oil rigs and platforms. Computing goals for oil exploration, drilling and extraction are a far cry from those in a typical data center. But just like everywhere else, computing needs are on the rise.
"Traditionally, you would collect exploration data and physically bring it back to shore, on tapes or disk storage," said Matthew Coffel, director of business development for oil and gas at AST Modular, "but this is changing to include more on-ship processing in purpose-built containerized data rooms." AST Modular builds containerized data centers for oceanic computing and other rugged environments.
Offshore communications are evolving to keep up with higher data demand. Satellite bandwidth has improved to match the network capabilities of low-end fiber, Coffel noted. Operations nearer to shore are running fiber to the platform. And as drilling moves farther offshore, oil and gas companies are giving older platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea and other shallow water a makeover as communication hubs. So, maybe HavenCo's idea of transforming an oil rig platform into a data center wasn't so far out after all.