IBM Includes Other Vendors’ Kit In Data Centre Containers

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IBM follows other vendors into the mobile data centre market – and its shipping containers don’t have to hold IBM kit

IBM will be selling portable data centres in industry-standard shipping containers, the company told a Gartner conference – and the units could hold IT systems from other vendors.

The launch comes eighteen months after IBM quietly released the containers into the market for testing and production use, IBM told the Gartner Data Centre Conference in Las Vegas that it will sell portable data centres in shipping containers, 8 feet wide and 20 feet, 40 feet or 53 feet long.

An IBM Portable Modular Data Center (PMDC) provides a complete physical infrastructure, including power and cooling systems and remote monitoring, Steven Sams, vice president of site and facilities for IBM Global Technology Services, told eWEEK.

 “The PMDC can support multiple vendors and systems in an industry-standard rack environment and enables complete access to both the front and rear of the IT equipment from within a physically and environmentally secure container,” Sams said. “It also has all the elements of the secure operating environments found in traditional ‘raised-floor’ data centers, including protection from fire, smoke, humidity, condensation and temperature changes.”

The new portables come in three basic configurations:

  •  IT-only PMDCs for servers, storage and telecom gear. These containers include the cooling and power distribution systems, security and fire suppression systems to support the technology. They can support up to about 20 industry-standard racks.
  • Mechanical and electrical PMDCs that include chillers, batteries, UPS systems, and generators that provide an infrastructure to enable these self-contained data centres to be put anywhere.
  • Combination PMDCs, in which IT and the electrical and mechanical systems are contained in a single unit.

Mobile data centres are expected to boom as the world emerges from recession Sun Microsystems, Rackable, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft are among the highest-profile IT companies that already have portable data centers housed in shipping containers on the market.

What sets the IBM portables apart?

“They are different for about five reasons,” Sams told eWEEK. “They support a wide range of operational conditions and can be placed in hot or cold environments. They’re designed for continuous uninterrupted operations. Clients can add or replace servers and storage while the data centre environment is maintained.

“Since the front and back of the technology can be accessed inside of the PMDC with a patented sliding racking system, we do not have to turn off the PMDC and open external access doors to get full access to change any technology inside.”

The PMDCs are designed to be turnkey and require chilled water or conditioned power from undefined sources, Sams said.

“[They are] supported by 700 data center professionals from IBM globally that are solely focused on helping clients with their data centre requirements,” Sams said. “These local IBM teams can help the clients plan, design and install these portable data centers anywhere.

“[They have] open architecture: We can plug and play components from all of the major UPS, cooling, etc. vendors globally ensuring that each container is the best for the specific customer requirements,” Sams said.

IBM has put together a partnership group to integrate products and services for the PMDCs that includes Anixter, APC by Schneider Electric, CommScope, Eaton Corp., Emerson Network Power, Panduit, Siemon, and Vette, Sams said.

The units will also be available with non IBM IT equipment inside. “IBM builds hundreds of data centres for clients around the world every year,” Sams told eWEEK. “IBM has a whole family of modular data centre designs from small to very large and PMDC is just one of the members of the family.

“Although we would love it if every client wanted to install only IBM technology inside of those data centers, the reality is that we build data centres to support a wide range of technologies and vendors. The environments are designed to support what the client wants. We do have preconfigured PMDCs with IBM technology options including that can be provided very quickly.”

For more information on the PMDCs, go here.


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