Interop '07: First, Sun's datacenter in a trailer. Now? Armarac's wall-mounted datacenter

Datacenters are showing up in the strangest places. Two weeks ago, while in San Francisco, I took you for a video walkthrough of Sun's Project Blackbox.

Datacenters are showing up in the strangest places. Two weeks ago, while in San Francisco, I took you for a video walkthrough of Sun's Project Blackbox. Project Blackbox is basically a shell of datacenter in a shipping container (the kind hauled around by tractor trailers). It's got everything that's needed (power, cooling, networking, tons of 19" racks, etc.) to bring up a datacenter anywhere at anytime. All you need to do is fill-in the rack space with gear (Sun would rather you do so with Sun's gear, but any gear that can fit in 19" standard racks will do). Whereas Project Blackbox has the high-end covered, not only does the New Zealand based Thureon have the low-end covered, it may have it covered in style.

Making its public debut here at Interop 2007 in Las Vegas, Thureon is showing off what can best be described as a wall-mounted datacenter called the Armarac. The folks at Thureon were incredibly clever in the way they've packed a 6U-sized rack into an enclosure that's designed to attach to the wall. Systems are mounted vertically instead of horizontally, and as you can see in the video above, you can "leaf" through the "pages" of the rack (each page being 1U-sized) like a book. Even though it can handle a capacity of 6U, the largest single-size in a rack-mountable system the Armarac can take is 2U. So, you can mix and match some 2Us and/or 1Us to get you to full capacity. Like Sun's Project BlackBox, Thureon has gone to special lengths (described in the video) to keep air flowing through the entire enclosure.

Some of the really interesting features have to do with security. The Amarac attaches to a wall mount in a way that the mounting hardware is only accessible if you have the key to the enclosure. This way, a thief can't walk up to your datacenter and steal it. Another security feature has to do with how there are two separate locking mechanisms -- one for the enclosure itself (to get at the systems) and the other for opening up the KVM-driven keyboard and display that's on the front of the enclosure. The idea being that you may have people with different roles in your company. One could be a the person that needs to access the operating systems through the KVM technology and the other might be someone who needs physical access to the hardware.

But these enclosures accomplish something else. Compared to your run of the mill 19" rack, they're actually pleasing to the eye to look at. Their curvaceous exterior (looks like something you'd see in a futuristic movie) is complemented by a choice of colors to go with the decor of your office. At Interop, Thureon was showing two models; one in blue, the other in orange. According to company officials, they'll do other colors like hot pink if you order enough of them! The enclosures sell for a cool $10,000.


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