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Cisco Enters Crowded Market For Portable Data Centers

Cisco Systems introduced the Cisco Containerized Data Center Monday, entering a growing market for pre-built data centers that can be delivered to a customer's location, plugged in and powered up for a quick expansion of compute capacity. Portable data centers, which are also offered by such companies as HP, IBM, Rackspace and Sun Microsystems (now part of Oracle), are designed to be more cost-effective to own and operate compared to building a brick-and-mortar facility.

The Cisco Containerized Data Center combines servers, storage, networking and cooling technology housed in an enclosure about the size of a typical shipping container. All of the equipment is Cisco's except for NetApp storage and VMware virtualization software. It will take as few as 12 weeks from the time a customer places an order for the portable data center to be built, configured, tested and shipped to a customer, versus up to two years for a brick-and-mortar data center to be built, says Keith Siracuse, product marketing engineer for Cisco.

"This is a really quick way to provide something right away instead of adding onto your brick-and-mortar center or building a new one. You get a lot more efficiency from a cost perspective and an energy perspective because you're able to concentrate a lot more equipment in a tighter space,' says Siracuse. The Cisco Containerized Data Center's energy-efficiency platform can yield a lower power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating of less than 1.25, compared with 1.6 to 3.0 for other data center solutions, the company says.

The first portable data center was introduced in 2006 with Sun's Project Blackbox. While others quickly entered the market with comparable products, Cisco doesn't consider itself late to the game, says Brian Koblenz, the chief technology officer for modular data centers at Cisco.

"When we're up against these kind of applications, we really need to have a container where we can also put our solutions, or otherwise we're going to get locked out. Cisco has broadened and continues to broaden its data center footprint," says Koblenz.

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