A portable datacenter may seem like pie in the sky, but in fact, Sun Microsystems has already constructed it. Whether Project Blackbox, which Sun calls the first virtualized datacenter, catches on remains to be seen, but for some, the concept is compelling.
Take a 20-foot shipping container; provide it with integrated cooling, networking, and power distribution; add external hookups for hot and cold water, 208-volt three-phase AC power, and Ethernet networking; integrate sensors, alarms, and GPS; fill its eight 19-inch shock-tolerant racks with servers -- either 120 Sun Fire T2000 servers or 250 Sun Fire T1000 systems -- and you've got one or two thousand processor cores, 7TB of memory, and more than 2PB of storage. Connect them all as a grid, for simplicity.
According to Sun, this configuration can support 10,000 simultaneous desktops without requiring an administrator, and it can be located almost anywhere: on a rooftop, in a parking garage, in a secure warehouse. It can be delivered rapidly, even to theaters of operation or catastrophe areas. What's more, Sun claims that a Project Blackbox datacenter is a tenth the price of a standard datacenter and that it can be turned on and configured in a day.
So if you find yourself unable to build or power or cool a datacenter fast enough to keep up with your enterprise's growth, or you're in need of a server farm on the go or at a hard-to-reach outpost such as an oil rig, you may find yourself in the market for this deliverable soon.
-- Martin Heller
What's your take on Project Blackbox? What other approaches to virtualization do you see creeping into the enterprise?