IBM unveils latest datacentre in a box

IBM announced the official Aussie launch of its portable datacentre in a box in Brisbane yesterday, as it continues its tour of the Asia Pacific.
Written by Luke Hopewell, Contributor on

IBM announced the official Aussie launch of its portable datacentre in a box in Brisbane yesterday, as it continues its tour of the Asia Pacific.


IBM's Portable Modular Datacentre (Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)

IBM's Portable Modular Datacentre (PMDC) is designed as a BYO-server facility where a customer can take their existing racks and install them straight into the datacentre to save on new equipment cost. The PMDC IBM had on display was housed within a 6.1-metre shipping container and can be infinitely customised.

Customers can choose liquid cooling options, direct expansion cooling or straight fan-based systems built into the racks themselves. The centre can also be self-contained, without the need for external power and water connections. It can also be teamed with different types of lining to protect it from the elements. The facility is anchored into the ground for security and stability and can even come complete with seismic absorption plates to earthquake-proof the container itself.

The facility can be deployed almost anywhere, according to IBM's Australia, New Zealand site leader for Site and Facilities Services David Yip.

"The PMDC is environmentally robust and can withstand rain, hail, dust and extreme temperatures," said Yip.

"Importantly, unlike competitor offerings, the PMDC can be maintained without the need to expose the PMDC's internal IT systems to damaging external conditions," Yip added.

According to IBM, the facility can be used as a remote datacentre for disaster recovery services, as a mobile or temporary datacentre, if a customer needs to move around. It can even act as a public or private cloud environment.

IBM Global Technology Services executive, Brian Canney, said that the cloud application of these facilities can help a business save on anything from site costs to rising electricity prices.

"Say you're worried about rising electricity prices, the PMDC is cloud enabled, so you can go and park it in a Nordic country somewhere where energy costs next to nothing and connect it up to the cloud, and you've saved money," Canney said.

Canney joked that he'd like to see the PMDC used as the first datacentre on the moon.

IBM is initially pitching the PMDC to local mining vendors, due to the facility's ability to withstand harsh environments.

"Due to its portability, security and durability, the PMDC presents an enormous opportunity in Australia for the mining industry — modern mine sites often have high IT systems requirements, but they need to operate in harsh environments and remote locations where building traditional infrastructure would be difficult and expensive," said Yip.

IBM also sees a strong military application for the datacentres. Engineering firm Nilsen is the field services, engineering and electrical partner in Australia for the project. Account manager Anthony Tenson told ZDNet Australia just how strong the PMDC can be.

"The US Army has deployed one of these and it's built in such a way that it can withstand .50 calibre bullets to the side, due to its Kevlar [bulletproof] lining," he said.

IBM offers six pre-customised PMDC templates for customers who aren't entirely sure of their datacentre requirements, with the ability to customise afterwards.

IBM has sold 36 individual PMDC's in 2010 so far, each with very different specifications.

Three template models will be made available in Australia immediately, from the small, 6-metre PMDC starting at US$700,000, to the large, 12-metre-sized offering coming in at US$3 million and upwards, depending on how many customised containers and site services are required.

Stay tuned for more photos and video inside the datacentre in a box.

Luke Hopewell attended the PMDC event in Brisbane as a guest of IBM.

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