The idea of putting a data center in a shipping container and deploying it to various locales on an emergency or as-needed basis isn’t terribly new. Folks including the federal government, IBM, Sun Microsystems and Google (who has patented the concept) have done it for years. However, as more companies are stuck between a demand for more computing and the high cost of power, the idea of a self-contained, small data center is catching customer attention.
Or at it will least next year, says Steve Cummings, director with Hewlett-Packard, which today launches its data center in a container called HP’s Performance Optimized Data Center or, POD. From a power efficiency standpoint, these PODs are 38 percent more efficient than the average data center, partially because these containers can run hotter. Some customers will use these PODs as a stopgap for gaining compute power while the company builds out new data centers, while others will likely buy these on an as-needed basis.
HP’s POD or Sun’s Blackbox data centers literally come in self-contained shipping containers (HP’s are of the 20-foot or 40-foot variety). HP’s largest version can carry as much as 12 terabytes petabytes of storage and contains 3,500 compute nodes. That’s using HP’s gear, which you don’t have to do if you don’t want to. HP says it is using a standard chassis and layout to make deploying this thing as customer-friendly as possible.
The PODs also not to be confused with some of many data-center-in-a-box products, which are essentially pre-loaded and configured racks of servers that are shipped out ready to install in a data center.