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Containerized Data Centers Boost Cloud Storage

As budgets shrink and data center requirements expand, many organizations are trucking in help -- literally.

Rackable Systems, Sun, and Verari are all at the center of a small but apparently growing market for portable data centers delivered in shipping containers -- a trend goosed by Sun with its Project Blackbox (now redubbed the Sun Modular Datacenter S20) late in 2006.

In more recent news, suppliers are claiming rapid uptake of their box-car solutions, particularly among would-be providers of SaaS, who require cloud computing platforms to supply their services.

Rackable Systems, for instance, has been cited by at least one financial analyst as poised to supply a handful of key cloud computing customers with trucked-in data centers: "We continue to believe the company is preparing to support a ramp of containerized data center orders during the second half the calendar year," wrote Tom Curlin of RBC Capital Markets in a note yesterday. "We believe the initial surge is specifically intended for Yahoo, and perhaps Amazon, whereas the Microsoft data center opportunity has yet to be awarded. We believe [Rackable] CEO Barrenechea is devoting a considerable amount of his time to the MSN opportunity, as the cumulative size of the order could be more than $200 million."

Curlin is referring to Microsoft's new containerized data center campaign. In Northlake, Ill. (near Chicago), for instance, Redmond is in the process of installing over 200 disparate containers on the first floor of a new $500 million data center. The data center boxes -- customized from suppliers as-yet unknown -- are earmarked for Microsoft's own cloud, which in turn supports services like Windows Live, Xblox Live, Office Live, Hotmail, MSN Video, HealthVault, Hosted Messaging & Collaboration, and FlexGo, to name just a few.

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