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HP Intros Portable Data Center

Hewlett-Packard is offering a half-size version of it portable data center for space-constrained companies looking to add capacity to their existing data centers. The 20-foot Performance-Optimized Datacenter offers half the computing power of the 40-foot model, a 4,000-square-foot data center-in-a-box introduced in July 2008. Both products are marketed to companies, government agencies, and educational institutions as alternatives to more expensive data center build-outs or overhauls.

The new 20-foot model packs 10 50U racks, each holding up to 80 blade slots. The 2,000-square-foot box lowers capital expenditures by 15% to 40% and operating expenses by up to 30%, compared to a traditional data center, according to HP. That's because the vendor is offering a "pay-as-you-grow" pricing model that minimizes upfront costs.

The smaller POD supports more than 1,500 compute nodes or 5,000 large form factor hard drives. The product has up to 291 kilowatts of power distribution, or 145 kilowatts of redundant power. HP promises no vendor lock-in, claiming the POD supports a "wide variety" of third-party technologies through its 19-inch standard racks. The 20-foot POD, launched Tuesday, has a starting price of $600,000, which does not include the information technology deployed inside.

HP's competitors in offering a data center-in-a-box include IBM, Rackable Systems, and Sun Microsystems, which was recently acquired by Oracle. While the products are a viable option for some companies, others may not be keen to park a metal box weighing thousands of pounds and packed with tons of server racks and power and cooling equipment. Vendors, however, argue that the containers are a possible answer to companies that need to expand their data center infrastructure, but are located in areas where real estate prices are high. In addition, taking a modular design approach helps prevent overbuilding.

Network Computing has published an in-depth report on the state of enterprise storage. Download it here (registration required).