Cisco Gets Into Containerized Data Centers

By Sean Kerner (Send Email)
Posted May 2, 2011


There are times and places when it's just not possible to build or expand the physical structure of a data center. That's where Cisco's new containerized data center fits in, with an entire data center inside of a container box. An entire data center -- all in one big box. With its latest offering, Cisco enters the container data center biz.

Cisco's containerized data center is a modular infrastructure with a railing system that enables site administrators to access the server racks. The container is also designed to be power efficient and quicker to deploy than building a new data center from the ground up.

"Bricks and mortar data centers take a long time to build, two-plus years and a lot of cash outlay," Keith Siracuse, product marketing engineer at Cisco told InternetNews.com. "One of the things we can do with the containerized data center is we can rapidly deploy these in anywhere from 90 to 120 days."

Siracuse added that the Cisco containerized data center is just another area in Cisco's overall data center portfolio that is now being filled. The container can be used for Cisco gear as well as third-party equipment from other vendors.

The Cisco containers can fit 16 racks of servers delivering up to 44RU of available rack space. Fire suppression as well as humidity and airflow control systems are also part of the solution

In addition, Cisco has built a management tool called Data Center Operations 360 to manage container operations. Brian Koblenz, CTO for modular data center Cisco told InternetNews.com that the operations platform is not yet tied into Cisco's new Cisco Prime monitoring platform.

"The container is able to be remotely monitored," Koblenz said. "Part of what we're offering with our master systems integrators is the ability to manage the containerized data center on the customers' behalf."

In terms of comparing the cost of a containerized data center versus a brick and mortar data center, there are a number of things to consider. Koblenz noted that there is the value of time and from a financial perspective there are also different amortization rates for costs.

"Bricks and mortar might be amortized over 20 to 30 years, while a containerized data center is typically amortized over 7 to 10," Koblenz said. "There are also the efficiencies of using off-site labor versus integrating and doing construction on-site."

Cisco is not the first networking vendor to jump into the container data center business. Back in 2006, Sun Microsystems launched its data center in a box effort with Project Blackbox. HP and IBM launched their data center in a container efforts in 2008.

Koblenz noted that since Oracle acquired Sun, Oracle has been less of a player in the containerized data center market.

"We've had the opportunity to hire some of that (Sun) expertise," Koblenz said. "HP and IBM are probably the primary players we'll be competing with, but there are probably also 15 plus smaller player that really can't offer a whole solution."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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