PTS: Blog

Reflections on the Data Center in a Box

Recently Jack Lyne, Executive Editor at Site Selection magazine, contacted me regarding Sun Microsystems’ new Project Blackbox, colloquially dubbed the “data center in a box.” (Check out his article: “Sun’s Blackbox: A Moveable Feast for Data Centers?”) Jack’s questions led me to reflect on the current rate of adoption I’ve observed for the mobile date center.

While the energy-efficient technology offers the benefit of rapid deployment, for many companies the Blackbox does not provide a feasible alternative to the traditional brick-and-mortar data center. Similar solutions have been equally ineffective. APC’s “data center on wheels” never seemed to produce the impact that was desired and it was a neutral processing environment.

The limitation for most companies which would be in the market for this technology is not space as much as it is access to adequate power and cooling. Despite its all-in-one packaging, the Blackbox does not mitigate the need for power and/or chilled water which are two primary cost drivers of any computer room project. At best the Blackbox is a Tier I data center as defined by the Uptime Institute’s Standard, which can be built just about anywhere for equal or less money.

The Data Center Journal summed up the sentiment quite nicely:

“A mobile data center is nothing new. We have seen APC deliver a mobile data center on wheels. We have seen manufacturers such as iFortress or Rittal’s Lampertz product line which both provide heavy duty and easily constructed mobile data center facilities. …

“The Sun “Data Center in a Box” provides the industry with another choice that can meet the need of the consumer, but is it needed and will the industry embrace it or will it become a small niche market product? Time will tell.”