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Microsoft Mulling Portable Data Centers

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the call-me-when-they-make-them-luggable dept.

Microsoft 137

1sockchuck writes "An architect of the Windows Live team has published a presentation advocating portable container-based data centers as the future of data center infrastructure. James Hamilton, who previously was GM of Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services, contends that a distributed network of unmanned modular units 'transforms data centers from static and costly behemoths into inexpensive and portable lightweights. ... Multiple smaller data centers, regionally located, could prove to be a competitive advantage.' Both Sun and Rackable have rolled out prototypes of container-based 'data center in a box' products, and Hamilton notes that large generators are also available in trailers."

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As Mr. Burns would say... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18628183)

RIFFîG

not feasible (-1, Troll)

seriousblack (1080509) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628197)

"Data center in a box" is a misnomer. At some point it becomes too inefficient to make the thing portable, resulting in serious problems [tinyurl.com] .

Re:not feasible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18628291)

Wow, the new goatse? Lol been a while since I got caught like that. Guess I better watch out for tinyurl links.

What about maintenance and fixes? (4, Insightful)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628205)

How do they plan on making that easy on an OS that needs regular attention? This isnt a Linux, OS/2, Sparc, AIX, BSD machine that you can dump in a closet (or container) for months at a time...

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628233)

HEY! Don't forget Netware.

yeesh...

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628753)

Net....what?

Is that anything like NetBEUI?

(as /me ducks and runzlakhell from the gathering mob of angry CNA/CNE's...)

/P

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18631193)

Hey now, I'm a month out or so from my CNE.... *sniff sniff*

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (1)

JordanL (886154) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628293)

What about Sarbanes-Oxley requirements for data security and integrity? Call me crazy, but being portable is somewhat at odds with the text of this law.

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628325)

Not really.
But, rather than maintaining 3 or 4 big-ass DC's or even moderate DCs you can maintain one central DC that mirrors and backs up stuff, while the satellite units can provide local access to reduce latency, and branch center operations.
-nB

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (2, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629861)

It will certainly make it easier to hijack someone's "web browsing experience" - just hook a semi up to the trailer and drive away with it.

Adds a whole new take to "never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of backup tapes."

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18629303)

You're a dumbass. When Google was talking about this (or when Cringley suggested Google was talking about this) people thought it was the coolest. Now, usual morons like you who look critically at everything Microsoft does are resorting to any stupid argument you can find to tear MSFT down a notch.

Give it up. You're a fucking loser if you hate a company that much. Period.

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18631045)

Your mother sucks cocks in hell. She's waiting for you.

- Satan

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (1, Insightful)

figleaf (672550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628519)

Thats a Myth. Microsoft is averaging 10 employees per 50000 machines for Live.

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18630987)

Says who? Oh.

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628579)

well strictly speaking you can leave a windows box unattended for that long, provided you have a trustworthy third party management tool installed.

Not that this matters. This is just Microsoft trying to find another way to stay ahead by taking other peoples ideas. I suspect it'll fail. Why? Cost, if nothing else, they always end up more expensive.

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (1)

statemachine (840641) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628641)

How do they plan on making that easy on an OS that needs regular attention?
There are remotely managed power strips for the rackmounts. Also, a blade chassis has this capability on its own. With PXE and storage arrays, it becomes a matter of hardware just dying -- which can happen to any OS.

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (1)

Sillygates (967271) | more than 7 years ago | (#18630639)

remotely managed power strips?

I think IPMI is more industry standard:

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (1, Offtopic)

bendodge (998616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628981)

A properly configured and firewalled XP Pro machine that isn't used for email or downloading anything will sit for a long, long time.

I do not download from untrusted sources, use a Kaspersky-based anti-virus, a hardware firewall and Windows Defender, and I have never had a virus on my XP Pro machine (I manually check logs and the registry to be sure.)

I think most of the Windows "security holes" people complain about stem from porn downloads and shady websites (esp on admin accounts), where malware is to be expected, but people think they shouldn't have problems anyway.

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (1)

revengance (132255) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629259)

That's sounds like a lot of security measures you had and you could have done with much less. I think a hardware firewall is sufficient in most cases (if you are using your computer as a client machine). As for people encountering "security" problems, I think it is a lack of understanding of computer systems and security as a whole.

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18629385)

A properly configured and firewalled XP Pro machine that isn't used for email or downloading anything will sit for a long, long time.
Are you sure??

I used to run a game server (AVP2) at uni.
When i went home i'd leave it running. (and nothing else)
It couldn't run for more than 1 weekend wid out crashing.

OK, so you could argue it was the AVP2 server that crashed and not windows.

But any half good OS would not let an AS application crash the whole OS -- a la Linux.

I download porn and look at shady websites all the time.
I have NO virus software at all.
I run linux -- and have never at 1 virus.

Ha ha -- a real OS
That does the job properly.

You would have thought that M$ and all there money they are throughing at vist would be able to make a virus imune OS, but obviously not.

Where linux does it without spending a penny.

You gotta laugh at those boys at M$. What are they thinking?

Cheers

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629887)

"You would have thought that M$ and all there money they are throughing at vist would be able to make a virus imune OS, but obviously not."

Its not to their economic advantage to do so. How many "unvalidated" copies would they miss if users didn't have to continually patch, update, and reinstall?

Remember - "Follow the money." Its always about either money or power - or in this case, both.

Re:What about maintenance and fixes? (4, Informative)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629525)

If you have the right hardware, you don't need to be on-site. Serious servers come with something called lights out management [wikipedia.org] . This utilizes a self-contained ROM-based system that's always running, even when the main system is shut down (or displaying a BSOD). As long as the system is getting power and there's an Ethernet cable connected to its management port, a remote user can do anything that an onsite user can do, provided it doesn't require opening the cover of the system. You can even re-install the operating system, used remote ISO and floppy images.

I'm the documentation lead for a server [sun.com] with a LOM [sun.com] that's very fancy indeed. There's a graphic terminal service that supports things like interacting with the BIOS, or logging into the server's GUI. There's a LOM command line you can access using a serial connection or over SSH. The LOM also supports IPMI [wikipedia.org] , which is kind of a basic necessity when you have a lot of servers, even if they're all down the hall.

This server is certified for Windows 2003 (and I understand a lot of our customers buy it for that fell purpose), so it would be ideal for Microsoft's container. However, we have a our own competing container product [sun.com] .

And yes, the company I work for is Sun, and yes, we're selling Windows-based systems now. Shocking, isn't it?

Google? (5, Insightful)

jkonrad (318894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628215)


Hasn't Google already been doing this for a couple years now?

Re:Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18628281)

If so, that's probably what gave M$ the idea. They've been ripping of other companies lately - i.e. zune=ipod, vista jizz=apple quartz, xpox=ps2, etc. Just another sign that the manager of Fudd's computers in Tuscon has more brains than Steve 'Idiot' Ballmer.

Re:Google? (4, Funny)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628301)

I recall reading something about enormous Borg like Google cubes requiring cities to build nuclear fusion reactors to power them, competing with Fermilab and LLNL for Most Brownouts Caused by Powerup, and being airlifted into remote regions of the world to hide classified data.

Internet Archive talked about that years ago. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629549)

I know that, some years ago, the Internet Archive people were looking into building archive mirror sites into containers, then shipping them to distant parts of the globe.

Idea was multifold:
  - Backup against natural disasters,
  - eliminating transcontinental bandwidth bottlenecks for archive users,
  - having a cheap, easy-to-build-and-deploy datacenter (Build, test, and load initial content where convenient, then ship it cheap, install it, check it out), and
  - have a low-profile site to avoid vandalism and theft of equipment (a container on a slab with a fiber and a power drop).
  - having

ummmm... (1, Offtopic)

sulphurlad (772436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628249)

Didn't I read about a year or so ago, google doing this, part of the whole dark-fiber-purchase-thingy....

Re:ummmm... (1)

navtal (943711) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628395)

Yep your right google is already doing this.....kinda like the new vista widgets....and a windows based GUI.....

Small decentralized datacenters (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628265)

Hmmm... didn't Microsoft once propose small, decentralized computing clients only to come back to more centralized computing via Windows Terminal Server?

It's deja vu all over again.

Borg (4, Funny)

jeevesbond (1066726) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628319)

This takes Microsoft one step closer to becoming the Borg. Just wait until one of these mobile data-centre 'cubes' appears outside a rival software company, the voice of Ballmer comes booming out of a loudspeaker: 'We are Microsoft. Open your doors and surrender your intellectual property. We will take your technological innovation and call it our own. Your culture will adapt to service ours. Resistance is futile.'

In fact, didn't I see one parked-up outside Novell HQ recently?

Re:Borg (1)

ILikeRed (141848) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628529)

I was thinking that if there was ever a story needing the tag itsatrap....

Re:Borg (4, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629017)

Mobile data centers are nothing new for Microsoft. I know a guy who drove a Luxury Car (forget what kind) and this car was sooooo wonderful it needed an operating system: Windows CE.

It didn't broadcast Bill Gates speeches on the road, but it had the same problem as all Microsoft software- features you didn't ask for, that don't work, that can't easily be removed or disabled. He would park this thing in his garage, and once a month some process would turn on at 3 AM to condition the battery or something silly. It would crash midway through and he kept waking up in the morning to a BSOD and a dead battery powering the dim blue glow of the pixels with its last gasp.

He kept having to take his car to the shop for patches. We loved hearing about this stuff at work, because the car always crashed for something different, but he was getting sick of it, like everyone else at the dealership. Finally one day it screwed something up again- left his windshield washer pump going all night or something- and he took it in for the last patch. The ride home was Linux powered and the fun stories came to an end.

Re:Borg (0, Troll)

celkin (1077635) | more than 7 years ago | (#18630491)

Yeah right. I love the internet because you don't have to tell the truth. You just have to be convincing, at least to the other Linux fanboys. And just for the heck of it, I'm NOT a seventeen-year-old high school student sitting at my WinBook in my grandparents' house procrasting from doing my Calculus homework. I'm actually a 43-year-old female brain-surgeon-slash-astronaut, and I drive an iCar. It's nice because it has a sleek white exterior, docks seamlessly with my iPod, and I can buy gas from iTunes for 99 cents per gallon, but there's only one pedal. If I want to break, I have to hold the control key on the steering wheel while I step on the gas. Luckily iCars never crash.

Re:Borg (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18631429)

Well WTF do you want from me? It's what the guy told me. He was just repeating what they told him at the garage.

He also said the car used to blue screen occasionally while he was driving it but it didn't affect the driving.

whoa, slow down there! (5, Funny)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628331)

Portable data centers? They can't even get portable music players right!

Re:whoa, slow down there! (0, Troll)

adamruck (638131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18630159)

Honestly, I would imagine that portal music players are a hell of lot harder to get "right", than portable data centers.

they can't even deliver *measurable standards* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18631307)

Plus a big fat "score:0" to slashdot for not researching this topic thoroughly within under-the-radar circles. There are small and independent businesses in the U.S. and India who have been constructing datacenter shipping containers for years.. Only when microshit and google do it you guys report this like it's news. BOO! HISS!

Ignore the cornerstones in society and you'll reap what you sow..

i seen a photo of Sun's (2, Insightful)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628345)

Sun had a shipping container that was painted black, i work for a construction company that has dozens of those shipping containers and they get hot as hell inside during the summer, who ever implements these things in a shipping container (especially black ones) better get a badass air-conditioner to keep those things cool...

Re:i seen a photo of Sun's (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628421)

Sun had a shipping container that was painted black, i work for a construction company that has dozens of those shipping containers and they get hot as hell inside during the summer, who ever implements these things in a shipping container (especially black ones) better get a badass air-conditioner to keep those things cool...

The first job I had was building a portable data centre for the Australian air force. When operating in a remote area they needed a way to analyse all the engineering data from their aircraft.

Now for me, that made sense. The shipping container is a bad environment to work in but the military know how to cope with problems like that, and they have a genuine need for mobility.

These days for civilian applications it should almost always be easier to get a fast line to your site and use a fixed data centre somewhere, or a combination of systems.

Re:i seen a photo of Sun's (1)

adamruck (638131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18630219)

I would imagine that having your data centers in physical locations with:

a) cheap energy
b) cheap land
c) cheap connections

is *REALLY* important to running a successful business. So much so that building data centers with the ability to follow these requirements as they move around, is worth it.

Also the ability to say "We have three extra data centers parked out back" is pretty awesome.

Re:i seen a photo of Sun's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18630839)

Microsoft finally came up with a way to get in on the action in Iraq. Good for them! I, for one, am sure that the Iraqi people will welcome their new Microsoft Overlords...

Re:i seen a photo of Sun's (1)

ihavnoid (749312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18630147)

In an article that I can't remember where it's from, I saw that it's black simply for marketing 'coolness'.
The actual products that will be delivered to customers will be white.

Re:i seen a photo of Sun's (1)

jvagner (104817) | more than 7 years ago | (#18630287)

Uh, yeah, Sun thought of that.

The actual units come painted white. The black is just a marketing detail given its name.

The units also devote a significant portion of the space inside to a chilled water cooling system. In fact, the water has to be chilled to 55 degrees.

There's a tour online somewhere that has more details. Google it if you're interested.

But...but...but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18628349)

Where are all the retired people going to live?

How Original! (1)

Biff98 (633281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628357)

Wow, Microsoft states that the future is something someone has already invented! Sweet How Novel.

Re:How Original! (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628517)


  You, sir, are clearly incapable of appreciating the YAMI (Yet Another Micro$oft Innovation) paradigm.

you mean like this, from Sun, from 2006 (4, Insightful)

joesilicon (213295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628389)

http://www.sun.com/emrkt/blackbox/story.jsp [sun.com]


A Novel Datacenter Concept


Project Blackbox packages compute, storage, and network infrastructure capabilities into scalable, modular units outfitted with state-of-the-art cooling, monitoring, and power distribution systems. Customers will be able to order a variety of standard and custom configurations of systems, storage, networking, and software. Housed in a standard 20-foot shipping container for maximum flexibility, Project Blackbox will be easily transported using common shipping methods. Simple hookups for water, AC power, and networking will enable customers to quickly deploy Project Blackbox upon delivery.

and Cringely or Google before that (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18631157)

A Novel Datacenter Concept

Which is apparently based on a Cringely article [pbs.org] from 2005, which may or may not have been lucidly based on a Google project.

Innovation at its finest.

Re:you mean like this, from Sun, from 2006 (1)

kjart (941720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18631425)

Yes, exactly like that - it's the first link in the article (nice research). That is the kind of thing the person from Microsoft is advocating - I doubt they are seriously considering making a competing product.

Patent Now! (1)

halfloaded (932071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628433)

Wonder if MS is going to patent this "new" technology. Oh, wait... Prior art. A Google container project [pbs.org] was mentioned about a year and a half ago. From TFA [pbs.org] :

The probable answer lies in one of Google's underground parking garages in Mountain View. There, in a secret area off-limits even to regular GoogleFolk, is a shipping container. But it isn't just any shipping container. This shipping container is a prototype data center. Google hired a pair of very bright industrial designers to figure out how to cram the greatest number of CPUs, the most storage, memory and power support into a 20- or 40-foot box. We're talking about 5000 Opteron processors and 3.5 petabytes of disk storage that can be dropped-off overnight by a tractor-trailer rig. The idea is to plant one of these puppies anywhere Google owns access to fiber, basically turning the entire Internet into a giant processing and storage grid.

*snore* (3, Informative)

Tom (822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628465)

Sun has one one the market, and it's been around for a couple months: "Project Blackbox" [foxnews.com] .

As usual, the "visionaries" at MS simply feed us what others have invented as their great ideas.

Re:*snore* (1)

kjart (941720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18631407)

As usual, the "visionaries" at MS simply feed us what others have invented as their great ideas.

He's advocating the use of such technologies, not claiming to have invented them.

By the way, there have been ill founded MS bashing posts on the market for years - maybe you should try innovating a new kind of post?

It's one thing... (1)

Daishiman (698845) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628469)

It's one thing to administer a low-maintenance UNIX box with SSH a long distance, laggy, crappy connection (it's same old same old and works almost as good as being there). It's another very, very different thing to hold a Remote Desktop session on those conditions (you'll want to stab yourself with MSDN CDs after a few minutes).

Re:It's one thing... (2, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628653)

Uh, I administered a Windows server in Puerto Rico that had a bad T1 line, we were measuring up to 40% packet loss at times and while RDP dropped it auto-resumed once the packetloss went back down. I can't imagine trying to use SSH or X to do the same. RDP also works acceptably over 28.8 dialup, I haven't seen any flavor of X do that. You can bash MS for many things but RDP is not one of them, of course it's a good technology that they stole from Citrix but.....

Re:It's one thing... (3, Insightful)

guruevi (827432) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629071)

I don't know where you get that, but RDP DOES NOT work acceptably over 56k. I've done it in the past (cell phone in laptop made a dial-up connection) and it is laggy and crappy. Right now I work from home, remote into my machine at work using WiFi and I have to use a VPN solution, I can't imagine doing that over anything slower than 128k.

X is neither a good solution for that, there is something out there that is comparable to X and lightweight, but I forgot the exact name. SSH works great over 28k... if you don't have too much of stuff scrolling through the windows (cat /var/log/messages for example). SSH can stand quite some seconds of packetloss unless the whole connection breaks down, but if you got that much packetloss, then RDP is not going to help either. That is why we have utilities like screen. Still, either on Windows or Unix, SSH or something comparable (Terminal) works always better on low-bandwidth than anything VNC-like.

Re:It's one thing... (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629213)

force 8 bit color 800*600 with cache enabled and themes and sound off, turn off drive and printer mapping. As long as you aren't using IE it works fine over 28.8. I did it for several years before cable became available out where I live (too far for DSL).

Re:It's one thing... (2, Funny)

cthulhu11 (842924) | more than 7 years ago | (#18631229)

Right now I work from home, remote into my machine at work using WiFi You're within WiFi range of your office and you don't simply walk there?

Re:It's one thing... (1)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18631265)

Generally speaking cellphones are much much higher latency. The first-hop latency on my phone is close to half a second, and while it has over 100kbit of raw bandwidth you never get to actually use that because the latency sucks ass.

RDP is significantly faster than VNC and X when it's used on a remote connection, and bear in mind that these servers are going to be installed in a DATACENTER. You aren't going to hook this container up to a 56k modem.

Portable AI Mind in a box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18628481)

A superintelligent AI Mind [aimind-i.com] needs a traveling data center a lot more than Microsoft does.

Robot artificial intelligence [sourceforge.net] could travel the country with all human knowledge at its disposal -- inside the reefer truck.

Itinerant Minds [visitware.com] want to know -- how much will one of these unnukeable furtive fortresses cost?

The Sun (Microsystems) is rising... (2, Interesting)

CoreTech (1084765) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628497)

With Project Blackbox [sun.com] , it's obvious that Sun is paying attention to their customers. Need to expand the datacenter, but don't have the space? Use their portable container setup. It's sheer genius, esp. for emergency contigencies/disaster situations. If I were a CIO/CTO, I would be taking a SERIOUS look at Sun's product as part of my data/computing landscape.

(And no jokes about hijacking the container with a forklift or breaking into it... That's why you hire 24/7 security if the data is important to you.)

Microsoft seems hellbent on adding their marketing spin to the product arena. This is one instance where they need to SIMPLIFY their verbage. I'm sorry, M$ - I'm far more comfortable putting my IT folks on a laptop, managing a remote UNIX (Solaris) or Linux solution than a Windows-based setup. Not unless I want to keep sending my user to the container's locale every few days for one issue or another.

Microsoft needs to rethink their strategy here. I think Sun ($un?) got it right.

Re:The Sun (Microsystems) is rising... (0)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629573)

I know numerous Windows server administrators who'd be surprised at the claim that you'd need to visit such a datacenter 'every few days', or even 'every few weeks'. You might try sticking to the facts rather than FUD before you accuse Microsoft of spin. Glass houses and all that.

More B.S.-Ware? (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628509)

More of the same, "Oh yeah? Ours will be better AND cheaper!" talk from Microsoft.

Someone needs to explain to me who is rushing to buy these things.

High-voltage lines into the box and having air-conditioning running 24-7 just sitting in a parking lot will probably inspire a visit from the local city inspector.

Certainly after the neighbors complain.

Re:More B.S.-Ware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18629431)

I can see the value (not necessarily M$'s offering) for telecoms like Cingular, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast etc. They could use this in the event of a (natural)disaster. It could be the key to intervention / recovery efforts.

Already in progress. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629641)

I can see the value (not necessarily M$'s offering) for telecoms like Cingular, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast etc.

They've been doing "cell cite in a container" for years.
  - Bring in the power and fiber or whatever (assuming it's not going to use a directional microwave link for the uplink side). - Pour a slab for the tower and container foundation.
  - Erect a fence.
  - Bolt the tower / antenna assembly onto the slab.
  - Deliver the container to the slab and bolt THAT down.
  - Hook up the power, landline, and antenna cabling.
  - Turn on and configure.
  - Lock up and leave.

Re:More B.S.-Ware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18629981)

>Someone needs to explain to me who is rushing to buy these things.

Ditto here. I've been doing data centers for nearly 20 years, and I can't see the real advantage to this.

If necessary, you just grab a portable office module (already available) and stick in a half or full rack of equipment. Done.

I don't see what the big deal is.

Re:More B.S.-Ware? (1)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 7 years ago | (#18630229)

I doubt our neighbors would complain (like most other business, the only thing around our parking lot is other businesses and parking lots), but last week a phone company truck managed to hit not one, but two, parked cars in our parking lot. Happily, mine was not one of them.

That's all I need to know to 86 the idea of putting a portable data center in my parking lot. Oh, and there are all those 50+ foot tall eucalyptus trees, too. Hate to have one of those fall on my portable data center.

I know Hamilton, he's a very smart guy and was once my boss, but I think I'll have to pass on this one :)

Imagine a... (2, Funny)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628511)

....nnnnggggg....nngGGGGGg....GAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

Re:Imagine a... (4, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628803)

...Grendel Cluster? Thor Cluster? Loki Cluster? What? C'mon man, throw us a line here!

(stop staring at me like that).

/P

Re:Imagine a... (1)

aldo.gs (985038) | more than 7 years ago | (#18630243)

...Beowulf There! I said it! Look what you made do! I hope you're happy now! *sob*

Re:Imagine a... (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18630797)

container ship stacked with these things that stayed only in international waters.

White elephant (2, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628521)

Both Sun and Rackable have rolled out prototypes of container-based 'data center in a box' products, and Hamilton notes that large generators are also available in trailers."

This strikes me an awful lot like a white elephant- it's not terribly hard to stuff a bunch of computers and an air conditioner/heating system into a shipping container with (physical) shock isolation. For Sun, it sounds like they didn't do much more than install water blocks in their servers ("cyclonic cooling", my ass.)

More laughs:

It's not completely plug-n-play, however. The "data center in a box" requires chilled water to support the cooling system, in addition to Internet connectivity and appropriate power infrastructure. Markoff's story notes that the prototype "sits in a container case adjacent to a Sun office building here (Menlo, Park, Calif.), connected to two large fire hoses for water cooling and 500 kilowatts of redundant power."

500kW (which at 220V is over 2,000 amps- which is a HUGE hookup) of power is probably just for the computers. Figure at least some sizable chunk of that for cooling...

Power, cooling, security...this seems rife with problems...

Re:White elephant (1)

CoreTech (1084765) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628629)

You're forgetting: Sun offers CoolThreads technology [sun.com] . Do the math: The power savings and heat reduction on AMD's Opteron servers is considerable, esp when running Solaris. Check the benchmarks and claims - Sun is the solution to use.

Not bad for x86 and x64 hardware that's rated by Sun on over a dozen OSes. Sun is covering their bases well. (Even if you want to run Windows within that portable datacenter.)

Re:White elephant (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629343)

FTFA: ". . . and Hamilton notes that large generators are also available in trailers."

Has he ever priced out the cost for generator trailers or A/C trailers? Good for emergencies, but not a long term strategy.

Data the new world currency now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18628699)

Or is it electrons? I've finally stopped being bitter about it enough to ask the experts.

MS clueless about large-scale installations (2)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628707)

From TFA:

But incorporating liquid cooling into high-density racks can address cooling challenges, and Hamilton argues that removing support personnel from the data centers will improve reliability, noting that "human administrative error causes 20% to 50% of system outages."
What, humans with remote access won't screw up? Maybe they don't trust MCSE's with screwdrivers... This initiative doesn't address the real problems in large-scale installations, energy density and power conditioning.

Re:MS clueless about large-scale installations (2, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628829)

"Maybe they don't trust MCSE's with screwdrivers..."

Be honest now... would you?

/P

Follow the money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18628749)


Historical note:
        Truck mounted computing has been around since the computing stone ages. The 'newness' of putting it in a container, well... it's about as new as encrusting something in diamonds, maybe a cell phone, or mp3 player.

Depending on which sized container, and what provider you go with you end up with somewhere in the 500-1500 u range. Figure each U of computer costs at least $500, and probably closer to $3000 for big name brand power houses.

Okay, the overall computer cost of the solution is somewhere around $250,000 to $4,500,000. Add on license for MS software, and the total cost of could easily run up as high as you'd like.

And any forklift driver with a pair of bolt cutters can take it from you. These things will normally be sited in industrial areas. You are one forklift or truck driver away from losing that asset, ether physically or because of an accident.

Re:Follow the money. (1)

symes (835608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628909)

And any forklift driver with a pair of bolt cutters can take it from you. These things will normally be sited in industrial areas. You are one forklift or truck driver away from losing that asset, ether physically or because of an accident.


This is a really important point - anything portable can be stolen and a box loaded with computer hardware is going to pretty desireable. So there may be advantages in more localised systems but there's going to be some security costs as well.

Re:Follow the money. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629113)

I think a robotic .50 cal on the roof will stave off most of the problems with theft or vandalism.

I just wouldn't park anything too important near that portable datacenter.

Re:Follow the money. (3, Insightful)

LoRdTAW (99712) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629901)

I hate to break it to ya but stealing one of those things will be very difficult. Once the container is in place you really think its just going to sit there? It will be placed on a concrete surface with anchors for each corner and for real security the anchors welded and covered with cement to prevent them from being cut. To remove it will require a jack hammer and torch, not so covert. Even if its left on a trailer the tires or the axles can be removed and left on a stand. They aren't going to leave a container full of millions of dollars of equipment in a parking lot with an extension cord running to it.

The 20' container alone has a tare weight of about 4500 pounds. A 1U server can weigh as much as 40 pounds. lets say we have 8 48U racks inside the container thats 48*8*40 which gives us 15,360 pounds. Add to that the weight of a cooling system, power equipment including a UPS, rack enclosures and cable management and you have quite a bit of weight. I am going to conclude that your looking at least 30,000-40,000 pounds for a loaded 20 footer. A forklift to move 30-40,000 pounds is very large and weighs so much that you need a tag trailer or slide axle semi trailer to move the damn thing. Its going to be allot easier to just open the container and rob the equipment. Or possibly use a roll back equipment truck and drag the thing on with a winch assuming it isn't anchored to the ground.

Re:Follow the money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18630271)

and what if you gain entry to the area and then one of the containers and insert a 'bug' (or backdoor) there?

Similar Trailers (1)

dj245 (732906) | more than 7 years ago | (#18630849)

GE Water does something similar, and their security is very lax. GE Water is responsible for taking care of a couple hundred trailers with complete demineralization plants onboard. The customer hooks up water in, water out (generally firehoses), and power. This trailer contains several tanks full of filtration granules in a cascade type system. The resin granules are worth a lot of money. I heard a figure for what they cost per ft^3, and it was shocking. Each trailer has five or six filter tanks half or 3/4 full of resin. The tanks are the full width of the trailer.

The catch is that the trailers are extremely heavy. The truck drivers told me that they can't carry a full load of fuel, because they are that close to being overweight. They would spend an hour draining the water and getting every last drop out (in CT the driver foots overweight/speeding tickets). If you could find a way to steal one from a power plant though (or a similar place with a large demand for demin water) and find a buyer for the resin, you would be very rich indeed.

Nice estimate (1)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | more than 7 years ago | (#18630647)

A quarter to four and a half million?

You cast a wide net.

Not original (1)

riflemann (190895) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628775)

Didn't Sun already do this? [nytimes.com] .

Embrace and extend, indeed.

Re:Not original (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629025)

or you mean this?

Unmanned? (4, Funny)

cxreg (44671) | more than 7 years ago | (#18628889)

Who's going to reboot the machines every other day?

Re:Unmanned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18629059)

Who's going to reboot the machines every other day?

A spontaneous segmentation fault?

Re:Unmanned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18629807)

The design is completed with a 'reset' button next to the container door lock.

Sun Microsystems ... Been there ... Done that. (1)

Usagi_yo (648836) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629221)

How interesting that this article comes out of all days on today. Sun's Project Blackbox is in San Diego right now across the street for display. http://www.sun.com/emrkt/blackbox/ [sun.com]

I took the tour today, got a neat tee shirt and free lunch too!

I hope airbags are standard equipment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18629269)

a lot of crashing going on in there...

Mmod =up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18629435)

Exchange? (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18629439)

James Hamilton, who previously was GM of Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services,

Am I the only one that read that last bit as "Microsoft Hostage Exchange Services"? I mean, I know MSFT likes to lock up your data in proprietary formats, but that's going a little too far....

Has everyone forgotten the last experiment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18629823)

Disaster Recovery (1)

tcgroat (666085) | more than 7 years ago | (#18630635)

This concept has a strong point, and that's the ability to transport a pre-configured data center by truck, train, ship, or cargo plane. If you suffer a fire, flood, or other accident that knocks your site out of commission, just write a check and have your business running again tomorrow from a temporary data center parked out back (you do have up-to-date off-site backups for your data, right?). With the incredible lost-business cost of down-time there may even be a market for "insurance plans", where a portable data center is at your disposal in exchange for an annual premium payment.

Rackables is crap (3, Informative)

twigles (756194) | more than 7 years ago | (#18630893)

My company almost bought a TON of Rackables. We're growing really fast and are building out multiple big DCs (>1k square feet) in the next year. These guys came in saying they could not only deliver a rack of servers on wheels, negating our data center operations team's need to rack everything, but also that they could double the number of servers we could fit in a rack.

The number of servers per rack is constrained by electricity. For a while we couldn't figure out how they fit 48 servers into the same amount of electricity that our current server vendor used to power 24 + 1 switch. That is until we pulled a server apart and saw that they are using LAPTOP CPUS. The servers don't perform nearly on par with normal ones. They were, and are, selling snake oil.

they are _going_ to make one? (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18631479)

So the original XBOX doesn't count?

There must be a size limit... I for one wondered how something so massive as the original XBOX could even exist. Shouldn't it exceed the Chandrasekhar limit? Perhaps that's it. Perhaps XXBBOOXX don't exist in a form that we can understand. The bloody things may very well have collapsed into singularities that float about the universe, consuming hapless victims, tearing them from reality with their merciless, Stygian flows. Oh noes, I'm feeling the most peculiar draw from the center of my universe...... aiiiieeeeee..............

XXXXBBBBOOOOXXXX
Because in here, time has no meaning!
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