Among the top Google search results for the word “natick” curiously are “Microsoft natick” and “Project Natick.”
They refer to an effort by Microsoft launched in 2015 called Project Natick focused on building underwater data centers to support cloud networking for coastal communities. The company is now in Phase 2 of the project, which entails installing a renewable energy-powered data center boasting more than 800 servers in the North Sea.
The Project Network website features an FAQ that directly addresses the question of:
What does the name Natick mean?
Natick is a codename and carries no special meaning. It is a town in Massachusetts.
I know my way around tech code names, having been a longtime reporter and editor for International Data Group’s Network World , and I just wasn’t buying it. One of the project founders had to have lived here or had something special happen in Natick. A first date at the Mall, or something.
Not wanting to take Microsoft’s marketing site at its word, I wrote to Project Manager Ben Cutler, who I was so pleased responded to me directly and quickly. Though I was disappointed that indeed, there’s really no great significance to the Natick name for this project.
Cutler wrote: “It really is just a codename. For no particularly good reason other than randomness to avoid naming things in any way that ascribes meaning, at one time my team used names of cities in Massachusetts as codenames. Natick was one of those. We’ve also used names of national capitols, birds, minerals, and other randomly selected name categories.”
So there you have it.
As for the meaning of the name Natick itself, we’ve seen different explanations, but the one we have ingrained in our heads is that which we saw for years at the Golf on the Village Green: “Place of Hills.”
Meanwhile, be assured you can’t order yourself up some Microsoft Natick locally anymore. The Microsoft Store at Natick Mall was shuttered in 2020.
Ask about Advertising on Natick Report.