Portable data centers: Will Microsoft prime the demand pump?

Portable data centers: Will Microsoft prime the demand pump?

Summary: Microsoft may be giving the nascent portable data center market a lift.Data Center Knowledge via Slashdot connects a few dots--including a some from ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley--to conclude that Microsoft may be an early adopter of the portable data centers championed by Sun (right), Rackable and others.

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TOPICS: Data Centers
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Microsoft may be giving the nascent portable data center market a lift.

Data Center Knowledge via Slashdot connects a few dots--including a some from ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley--to conclude that Microsoft may be an early adopter of the portable data centers championed by Sun (right), Rackable and others. These data center in a box concepts have gotten a decent amount of press, but few actual customers. Microsoft would be a helluva reference customer.Data Center Knowledge writes:

"The portable data center trend could get a huge boost from Microsoft, where an architect of the Windows Live Core team is advocating unmanned container-based commodity data centers as the future of data center infrastructure. Microsoft's James Hamilton has made two presentations recently discussing modular data centers' ability to provide economies of scale for Software as a Service (SaaS).

Hamilton's presentation outlined the following advantages for portable data centers (photos below are from Hamilton's presentation).

Data Center Module

  •   Contains network gear, compute, storage, & cooling
  •   Just plug in power, network, & chilled water

Increased cooling efficiency

  •   Variable water & air flow
  •   Better air flow management (higher delta-T)
  •   80% air handling power reductions (Rackable Systems)

Bring your own data center shell

  •   Just central networking, power, cooling, & admin center
  •   Grow beyond existing facilities
  •   Can be stacked 3 to 5 high
  •   Less regulatory issues (e.g. no building permit)
  •   Avoids (for now) building floor space taxes

Meet seasonal load requirements
Single customs clearance on import
Single FCC compliance certification


Hamilton's presentation argues that portable data centers would save money and time. One container has 1,000 systems, no packaging, no floor space and can be set up in hours compared to the 24 months or more it takes to build a data center. Another perk: No local or federal regulatory approval needed for a portable data center.

Perusing Microsoft's recent statements the company sounds enthusiastic about portable data centers. Expect others to follow in short order.

Topic: Data Centers

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  • Only One thing I would do different.

    I would make sure that I didn't paint the name of the server company on the side of the container. What a theft target!

    Great idea for the next dotcom bust. Lease the big box with all the little boxes in it and when your company implodes, they can take the big box home!
    Xwindowsjunkie