Still More Thoughts on Container Data Centers

In April we predicted that this would be the break-out year for container data centers. In July we posted more information about container data centers when we were working MEP cost models for container-based facilities. The year is half over now, and though the “break-out” has yet to happen there have been some very notable developments that deserve discussion. Let’s start here by reflecting on those things that make container data centers interesting for enterprise IT.

Update on Cargo Ship Data Centers

I promised an update on the progress of the ship-based data center concept floated (yes a pun) by International Data Security (IDS). A recent post on Silverback’s blog explains that the first launch (perhaps a pun) is now delayed until Q3 of 2008, and gives a few more details.

IDS continues to see the ship-based data center concept as a lucrative opportunity, given the continued demand for data center space, the notion that ship-based data centers can reduce the time to market by as much as 65% and that the Cap-Ex is estimated to be a third less than a comparable brick and mortar facility.

Paint Your Moose Green

In these times of economic stagnation, IT leaders’ attention turns to cost savings.   Indeed in times like these, the CFO is likely exerting strong authority and demanding budget concessions from departments across the enterprise.

Many companies are aggressively consolidating data centers as one way to address this demand.   There are a number of significant cost savings opportunities with data center consolidation, in spite of the complexity involved in successfully executing a consolidation plan.   Many of those, in turn, come from savings due to increased efficiencies of operation as compared to the pre-consolidated state of affairs.   In particular, we’re talking about efficiencies from removing redundancy of maintenance costs, and centralized control of operational and support expenses.

A Quick Primer on Data Center Tier Ratings

For those of you who are regular visitors to this blog, this topic may seem rather basic.  However, I was recently asked to write an article on this subject and thought that if it’s good enough for that venue then perhaps someone will find benefit in reading here as well.  So here are some highlights from that piece-

Clients often come to us for help with data center consolidation or new data center implementation projects.  The discussion quickly comes around to the appropriate “Tier Level” for their IT facilities.  What we’re talking about here (to a large extent) is an industry standard way of describing the availability of the data center facility.  Availability, in this case, is referring to the degree to which the facility can support constant uninterrupted operation of the contained data processing systems.

We know that the systems themselves can be architected with high-availability configurations.  Autonomous failover of network connections, clustered server environments, and so on are ways that the systems can sustain operation even if, say, a server crashes.  What the Tier Levels of a data center refer to though, is the capability of the facility itself to support the systems it serves.  Utility power can fail, the temperature in the building can rise to cause damage to equipment, and so on.  These are facilities issues, and are the foundation upon which any amount of data processing fault-tolerance stands.

Ahoy Maty! Servers on the Poop Deck

‚ÄòTis true me hardies, the day o’ big data centers on the seven seas be upon us all. So cast off yer land lubberin’ server farms an’ hoist the main sail. We’re settin’ these servers afloat ‚Äòfore ye feel the bite of me floggin’ whip. Arrr.

Well, we’ve talked about data centers in salt mines, in abandoned ICBM silos, in renovated shopping malls, and now… on boats. ‚Big boats.

This one has been hard to get much information on, because the company is being stealthy about details. A firm by the name of International Data Security (IDS) has acquired a fleet of decommissioned cargo ships, and plans to outfit them as floating data centers. The first is said to be going online at Pier 50 in San Francisco imminently.

Before you say either, “Why didn’t I think of that?” or “These guys must be crazy,” consider the following points:

More Thoughts on Container Data Centers

In earlier posts and conversations, I’ve mentioned my interest in container data centers and the opportunities they bring for certain types of implementations and use cases. As a big fan of agility in IT in order to meet the dynamic demands of the Business, containers can be a valuable weapon in the arsenal.

In my conversations with Clients about the applicability of containers to their data center roadmaps, I often find myself involved in philosophical debates.  Part of this is due to the newness of the technology as well as preconceived notions of use cases for containers.  Part too, is due to the real fact that containers are very strong solutions in some use cases, and more of a strategic option to be evaluated in others.