Datacenter In A Box, Or Just Publicity Stunt In A Box?

from the a-box-to-house-boxes dept

There's a big debate going about the future of corporate IT regarding how much of it will be hosted elsewhere, and how much will be on-premise. Some absolutists see almost all IT functions being delivered on-demand, while others expect that the existing model, whereby companies manage their own IT, persisting for sometime. Today, Sun Microsystems staked out a middleground in this debate, as it announced the availability of a portable datacenter dubbed "project blackbox". The product will come pre-assembled inside a shipping container, and is ready to go as soon as its connected to water and electricity. It appears to be almost exactly what Robert Cringely saw Google developing in a column of his last year. Sun's product might appeal to companies that like the idea of using commodity infrastructure, but don't like the idea of it being off-premise and outside of their control. And it could pose a threat to the IT consulting firms that get paid alot to customize a company's IT setup. On the other hand, it's not clear how big the market for this is going to be. It will probably be too much for most small companies, while large companies with massive infrastructure needs probably won't get much use in an additional shipping container filled with gear. The sweet spot of companies for whom this will be ideal seems small. It's impact on Sun's business won't be as significant as what it represents, the continuing commoditization of corporate infrastructure.

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  • identicon
    Michael Long, 17 Oct 2006 @ 4:40pm

    Traliers

    Not to mention the fact that I don't know a lot of companies that want their datacenters stuffed into a trailer parked out back...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ebrke, 18 Oct 2006 @ 7:56am

      Re: Traliers

      I'm sorry, this is off-topic, but I have vivid memories of an engineering/construction company where I worked in the early 1970's. The IBM 1130 computer (hot stuff in its heyday back in the 60's) was housed in a construction trailer out back of the building. In the winter, you had to turn up the heat and wait for 15 minutes before you could cold-start the machine. However, I'll agree that nowadays, no one wants their data center stuffed in a trailer out back.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Stu, 17 Oct 2006 @ 5:44pm

    One possibility is for emergency use. You keep it somewhere safe - maybe away from your main location - keep it updated, etc. When the stuff hits the fan you can be back in business to some degree, until your main datacenter is back up. Seems like an expensive solution, but may work for some critical needs.

    I bet it would have helped some outfits in New Orleans.

    It will be interesting to see what happens with it.

    As far as "It's impact on Sun's business won't be as significant as what it represents, the continuing commoditization of corporate infrastructure." ?? I tend to agree.

    It's not going to be the saving of Sun. Seems like others could build one just as easily with other hardware/software.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Yo ho ho..., 17 Oct 2006 @ 6:26pm

    Saving Sun?

    It will take a great deal more than off-site storage and disaster recovery programs... but it is certainly the direction that you will see alot of box / server manufacturers taking while bundling this with services, etc.

    The question remains -- is Sun heading the way of SGI? McNealy aside, the company is directionless and losing steam.

    Wanted to come up with a joke -- but I think Sun is it right now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    anonymous, 17 Oct 2006 @ 7:26pm

    been there done that

    hasn't APC (http://www.apcc.com) come out with a disaster recovery datacenter-in-a-trailer already? I think Sun missed the boat by over a year.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dr. Klahn, 18 Oct 2006 @ 5:39am

    Water and electricity?

    What the ... water and electricity?

    What does a server want to be connected to water for?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Joe Smith, 18 Oct 2006 @ 11:20am

    parking lot

    The odds on these things winding up in a parking lot seem pretty remote. On the other hand I expect that there are lots of companies who want to have their own dedicated hardware rather than having their data hosted on metered third party hardware side by side with other users.

    This products saves the cost of having high priced tradespeople come in and build the racks, mount the servers and run the wires to each individual machine.

    I think that you will see a lot of interest in these things from banks, government agencies, insurance companies and web based businesses.


    These things are not likely to be parked out iin the sun. (no pun intended). More likely they will go into standard warehouses and light industrial buildings. The big challenge for the users will be getting a big enough power source and data pipe to the site.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Doe, 18 Oct 2006 @ 6:40pm

    Perhaps management could be freeze dried and reconstitutued into it's original and ineffective state?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Gavin, 18 Oct 2006 @ 6:41pm

    Another well intentioned, but unproven, idea from Sun. We've been down this road before. From putting its tools and hardware on eBay, supposedly to find their “real” value, to selling PCs loaded with the Java Desktop System on walmart.com because Wal-Mart's size and influence could help JDS reach a “volume market.” Ideas that faded. Blackbox has its market niches, sure, but it’s not going to do half as much for Sun as those Opteron servers it also launched, and that Blackbox was clearly designed to help promote!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bill Anderson, 18 Oct 2006 @ 7:52pm

    Data Center in a Box

    What a joke.

    I have seen the future and it doesn't include a whole lot of standalone corporate data centers, in boxes or buildings.

    I worked on a project recently where I had the opportunity to see what IBM has done with it's utility computing/computing on demand stuff. They have successfully virtualized the Suns and HPs of the world out of existence. True separation of apps and data is alive and working extremely well in the AIX and Wintel worlds and the MFs are regaining their rightful place as the central manager of security and data. And mirrored data replication has replaced clunky old back up tapes.

    When I started as a systems programmer in the late 60s, we all did our own systems work, including modifying the operating systems and developing our own middleware. Lots of us in the shop were systems programmers. No more. And the server sysadmin is going to go in the same direction. If the tech-weenies have any common sense, they will see the light and move over to the application side or get out of the biz.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    chris (profile), 19 Oct 2006 @ 11:13am

    portable datacenter is an oxymoron

    datacenters are a lot of things, but portable isn't one of them. the computers *might* be portable, but the dedicated power, cooling, and networking needed for a datacenter is not. you might be able to get commercial power (as in not from a diesel generator) to a datacenter in a day or two, but good luck getting t3 or oc12 lines in anything less than a month.

    has anyone on project blackbox ever set foot in a datacenter? you know, those places where you can't even power something on unless you are in a downtime window?

    there are some pluses to your datacenter being portable, if you get raided by the FBI they can seize your gear much more efficiently.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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