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Portable Data Centers

By Steve Jones,

HP Data Center containerI found it interesting that Microsoft is pushing portable data centers. They are building a number of new data centers and leaving space in them (200 slots in Chicago) for the portable shipping containers that house a data center. Google is doing this and Sun Microsystems is pushing sales of its Blackboxes more and more. Google may even attribute some of the amazing efficiency they have in their data centers directly to using these containers.

I like the idea of loosely coupled systems, of flexibility, and the ability to easily reconfigure things as needed. I think it's one reason that virtualization is so appealing to me. It not only makes your resource usage more efficient, but it means you can easily move to new, and more powerful, hardware as needed. Portable data centers do this for hardware.

The idea of building a set of servers into a container is a great one. Granted, that's a lot of servers in a container, and while there are lots of companies that would need more than one container, the vast majority of companies would use only a fraction of one. For every large company that has hundreds of servers, there are dozens that use less than one rack and might make do with less.

To me this is a good step towards implementing hardware more efficiently. As we evolve, I'd really like to see this broken down further. While a container is easily moved, what about a rack? If you've ever needed to move one, there is no easy way. It would be great if we could easily slide out a rack of servers from the container, without disturbing the others, and move that rack to a new location and just plug it in.

I just hope the next time you end up needing to troubleshoot some equipment at the console, you're not riding in the back of a container as it's being towed to it's new home.

Steve Jones

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