Earlier this year we talked about 2008 being a breakout year for container data centers. We’ve also discussed new developments and new product introductions by the container vendors as well as a number of established and emerging use cases.¬† It would appear though that the launch of container sales has yet to get underway.¬† In spite of the slow start, I continue to believe there are many good use cases for container data centers, and I see these as a momentum-builder for modular data center construction concepts (which are sorely needed).
We’ve recently begun work on an all-container data center concept for a new data processing facility to be located on the East Coast of the USA.¬† In the process of this work, I’ve reached out to all the container vendors I know of (Rackable Systems, Verari, Sun, HP, Dell, IBM, Lampertz) for capability and pricing information for potential inclusion of those products in this new project.¬† The experience I’ve had over the past month with these purchase inquiries shows that one of the obstacles to the breakout potential may simply be the difficulty in buying these products.
In general, it’s very difficult to find good information about container products and to engage in a conversation about making a purchase.¬† There have been two exceptions to this so far.¬† I have good conversations going on with Verari and Sun, with real live helpful sales persons and a flow of information.¬† Sadly though, even for vendors with which I have a known contact in the organization and have set foot in their containers with them before, I have seen no interest from them in selling.
Certainly it’s possible that progress would be different once I find that “right” contact in the sales organization.¬† I would suggest though, that the issue runs deeper.¬† To demonstrate, take any of the vendors I mention above, go to their web site, and see if you can find information on their container data center products.¬† It’s not easy, and for some it’s nearly impossible.¬† Call for information and the situation is even worse.
I’d like to clarify that the intent of this post is not to bash the sales teams of any of these fine vendors.¬† From the outside though, and with few exceptions, this line of product development seems to deserve more attention from the manufacturers marketing them.¬† Whether this is a reflection of their confidence in their solution, their view of the market opportunity, their coming to terms with how to position the products, their existing production volume,… I’m not sure one can say.¬† We are in the infancy of the life cycle of this type of product.¬† It’s pretty clear though that for the time being, building a solution using containers is going to involve a bit of bushwhacking.