The explosive growth of Big Data has Jack Pouchet, vice-president at Emerson Network Power, thinking about where all that information is going to go. His suggestion: Put data centers into geosynchronous orbit, where they could be powered by the same kind of solar panels used for some satellites now. Also, as advances in automation continue, it won’t be long before such a center could be almost completely self-operational and self-healing. Best of all, Pouchet says, “You could put something in space for $100 million,” a significant cost savings over building a center in certain remote parts of Earth.
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What’s the Big Idea?
Orbital data centers could be the best home for legacy data, as it would likely take some time to retrieve it. However, Pouchet acknowledges the risks and challenges with having a facility so far away. No matter how automated it was, if there was a problem, “[i]t could be up to a year before people can go to do an upgrade and make replacements.” Still, if space could work as a potential location, so could other extreme environments: “There’s a lot to be said for dropping a data center into the ocean. No one is going to be able to mess with it.”