…And now a data center that moves

By : |December 21, 2006 0


BANGALORE: Think enterprise data centers and what comes to mind is large dedicated facilities hosting heavy racks of servers, cable spaghetti with complex cooling systems.

But systems and server solutions provider, Sun Microsystems has decided turn the idea of the traditional stationary data center on its head.

The company is currently testing a prototype of a “portable data center” that is housed in a shipping container.

Dubbed “Project Blackbox”, Sun feels that this revolutionary product could translate into huge savings for enterprises.

Elaborating on the initiative to CyberMedia News, Bjorn Andersson, director of High performance computing (HPC) and Integrated Systems, Sun Microsystems, said, “Blackbox is a shipping container where we have put in the data center. This makes the data center mobile. You don’t need to go around building data centers anymore!”

Sun has included everything like air conditioning, cabling, power within the box.

“You just have to hook up the system next to your car park,” said Simon See, director, Systems practice, advanced computing solution, Sun Microsystems.

The Blackbox is a standard 20 ft container that can fit in eight racks of around 250 systems. “If we were to equip it fully today and run a benchmark on it, it would be in the top 500 HPC installation list,” claims Andersson.

The company is now working with pilot customers to bring it out to market. It should be available in volume shipment globally by middle of 2007.

On the cost savings of this mobile data center, Andersson says, “We have done some cost comparisons and also took into consideration the cost of building a data center. If you look at it that way, this is just one per cent of the overall cost of building a data center.”

This may seem a little hard to believe but the company is confident about this concept. In October, Jonathan Schwartz, CEO and president, Sun Microsystems, made a statement on Project Blackbox.

"Rather than trying to improve upon today’s data centre, designed for people babysitting computers, Project Blackbox starts from the world’s most broadly adopted industry standard, the shipping container, and asks — how can we most efficiently create modular, lights-out data centres from this base? The answer…with one-hundredth of the initial cost, one-fifth the cost per square foot and with 20 percent more power efficiency, we can deliver an immense multiple of capacity and capability — anywhere on earth."

Enterprises would have to wait until the middle of next year to check if Blackbox can truly live up to what Schwartz promises.

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