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IBM cuts ribbon on portable datacentre

The shipping container-based datacentre will support server, power and cooling technologies from multiple vendors, according to IBM
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Written by Matthew Broersma on

IBM has become the latest vendor to begin offering a complete datacentre packed inside an industry-standard shipping container, following in the footsteps of Sun, Rackable and others.

On Wednesday, at the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas, IBM said its Portable Modular Data Center (PMDC) is now generally available after 18 months of testing with selected users.

IBM's product includes tweaks designed to set it apart from similar concepts, the company said. For instance, the PMDC can be installed in hot or cold environments, and a patented sliding racking system allows administrators to access the front and the back of all racks from inside the unit, without needing to open external doors.

Servers and storage can be added or replaced while the datacentre is running, according to IBM.

Like other datacentre containers, the PMDC can be installed anywhere that has access to power, water and telecommunications. It uses industry-standard racks and supports multiple technology vendors for servers, Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) systems, cooling and other technologies.

A number of vendors have worked with the company to integrate their products with the PMDC, according to IBM, including cabling companies such as Anixter, CommScope, Panduit and Siemon; UPS vendors such as APC and Emerson Network Power; and cooling vendors such as Vette.

The datacentres are eight feet wide and are available in 20-foot, 40-foot or 53-foot lengths.

Last month, at its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft showed off one of its datacentre containers, which were first announced in 2008.

Sun introduced its Project Blackbox container-based datacentre in 2006, and Rackable began talking up a similar concept called Concentro in 2007.

Previous datacentre containers had been used by organisations carrying out classified work, according to Jerald Murphy, a Robert Francis Group analyst.

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