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Sun’s Computing On Demand, Literally

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Sun Microsystems is putting an entire data center in a shipping container, betting that it could help overcome the escalating real estate costs, and can (literally) provide computing on demand. The $500,000 “data center in a box” is going to be available in second half of 2007, reports John Markoff of The New York Times.

The water cooled system is painted black, and has seven racks of 35 server computers based on either Sun’s Niagara Sparc processor or an Opteron chip from Advanced Micro Devices, the New York Times writes. Sun’s new box was designed by W. Daniel Hillis, co-chairman of Applied Minds.

The expandable computer system, called Project Blackbox, is based on a standard 20-foot shipping container and can be deployed virtually anywhere there is electricity, chilled water and an Internet connection.

This reminds us of a speculative post by Bob Cringley, back in November 2005.

Google hired a pair of very bright industrial designers to figure out how to cram the greatest number of CPUs, the most storage, memory and power support into a 20- or 40-foot box. We’re talking about 5000 Opteron processors and 3.5 petabytes of disk storage that can be dropped-off overnight by a tractor-trailer rig.

Maybe there is something to that Sun Microsystems-Google relationship after-all. Still, despite Sun’s optimism, we wonder how many will buy into this version of computing on demand. Connecting data centers to the internet is not a trivial task, and our friends who are savvy in the ways of routers and switches often share their woes over a pint.

13 Responses to “Sun’s Computing On Demand, Literally”

  1. Incorrigible

    It would make sense to have everything in a self contained unit and move it along or keep it always on the move, you never know where your datacenter is and does that add to security, may be yes.

    With Wimzx getting deployed in the coming years, you never know, the sun farm will always connect to the nearest Acccess point/s and presto you have a data center which can come online if required any where where you have wimax..

    There are thousands of applications for such equipment, May be use them to crunch data during War. May be DOD has already placed orders

  2. how is this revolutionary? who only needs 7 racks of equipment? i can’t see anyone other than govt agencies like the military or fema use this. any idea how much power it will require if fully populated? i would guess not more than 150kw if each rack has 2 X 30amp 208v and roughly the same power for cooling.

    i guess they could rack em and stack em in the moffet hangar but i certainly wouldn’t proclaim this as revolutionary and being on a front of nyt with this…well that is funny.

  3. Eric B – I had the opportunity to check out APC’s InfraStruXure Express. It packs 10 racks on the back of an 18 wheeler. It’s totally decked out in chrome; I’d never seen anything soooo shiny. Unfortunately you can’t transport it with any gear. It’d weigh more than most states’ highway limits. That was the case back in January at least, when the unit I saw was the only one in existence.

  4. i predict that google will use sun’s support model for the enterprise, and that’s about it…perhaps some customization of processors or other tools for infrastructure, but beyond that they’ve already bailed on the openoffice distribution prospects from what one might tell by reading the assorted press bits…

  5. Meh. To fill these racks w/ 35 sun servers will cost close to a million dollars, plus the 500k. But what they seem to miss: people don’t put there machines in data centers because they are hip, rather because they are secure and redundant: redundant cooling, redundant power, biometric security, staffed 24×7, earthquake proof, fireproof – the list goes on. And the power – oh the power. What the heck kind of circuit am I going to run to this little box? Just not sure it makes a lot of sense.

  6. We still have to see the results of SUN and Google and partnerships. There has been a lot of talk about in past but nothing concrete has come to this date. I’m sure something is cooking there, but what it is anybody’s guess

  7. can anybody explain the allure of this product to me? why would someone purchase something that is so much more expensive than a commodity hw setup? i assume it would offer certain energy cost savings, but enough to justify the price?