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Sun Builds Data Centers Inside Shipping Containers

No space for a data center? No problem, says Sun Microsystems. The server vendor on Tuesday showed off a "data center in a box," a new product line for the company that packs a conventional shipping container with storage, networking gear, and as many as 250 servers to provide instant computing power or create an alternative for data center expansion where space and power is limited.

Sun says it can offer highly-dense installations of servers or storage inside the 20-foot-by-8-foot-by-8-foot metal containers. Sun can create installations that are 20% more energy efficient than a traditional data center, in a third the space and at a fifth the cost, and have the equipment operating 10 times faster, says Anil Gadre, chief marketing officer.

"This is ready-to-go infrastructure," Gadre says. "What is pushing us in this direction is that space and cooling issues have suddenly become paramount."

Gadre says Sun can put about 250 of its x86-based Galaxy servers or UltraSparc T1-based servers inside a single container, or more than 1.4 petabytes of storage. Designed for maximum density, the equipment inside the container is surrounded by a water-chilled cooling system.

The data centers can be quickly deployed in business parking lots, or even dropped by helicopter on the top of high-rise building, Gadre says. The containers have shock absorption for easy transport, and have integrated networking and power distribution in addition to centralized cooling.

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