Google has always enjoyed being secretive about its largely custom-built data centres, so I imagine there are a few furrowed brows following the widespread reports about its application for a patent to build offshore datacentres, which could draw their power from the ocean waves.
A sketch from Google's floating datacentre patent.
On the one hand, I can see how having a datacentre in a location where only seals can visit it would help to keep it a secret. On the other hand, it's going to be a bugger getting people there for the initial fit-out — and what if the centre gets held hostage by high-tech pirates?
We're always being told about how hackers have turned into professional criminals, and there's no reason to assume that a little bit of salt water would put them off.
What makes this story really weird, though, is the assumption that ocean-based power might suffice in an era when getting sufficient power to datacentres in areas with massively well-developed infrastructure is proving increasingly problematic.
Sure, there won't be a lot of krill queuing up to charge their ultra-compact iPod Nanos, but it hardly seems like a practical scheme. As one datacentre manager said when I mentioned this to him today: "Some people just have too much time on their hands". Or maybe Google is drawing inspiration from the infamous UK pirate radio stations of the 1960s, which escaped British regulators by running offshore.