They're usually employed to transport anything from breakfast cereal to building supplies, but now Sun is stuffing servers inside of them. And switching them on.
|Sun's Blackbox mobile data centre
With its eye firmly on the corporate world's insatiable appetite for computing power and storage resources, Sun Microsystems has constructed the world's first datacentre in a box - and it's heading for Australia.
Housed in a conventional 6-metre shipping container, Sun's Blackbox datacentre is targeted at organisations needing to rapidly grow their computing muscle.
With space for more than 250 servers and 1.5 petabytes of storage, the Blackbox is delivered pre-configured and ready to run. Sun says it can support 10,000 simultaneous desktop users and prices start from around $US500,000.
|Inside Sun's Blackbox datacentre
Sun believes there will be big demand for its high-tech container from smaller IT firms who are constrained when it comes to finding space to build a conventional data centre. With a Blackbox, your IT infrastructure will be more than happy purring away in the carpark.
Sun has also used its engineering know-how to build sophisticated power management and water cooling features into the container, thus reducing its power requirements. Sun says it needs around 20 per cent less electricity than a similarly-sized conventional datacentre.
A big advantage of having a portable datacentre is that it gives companies the option of locating it close to cheap sources of power. Rather than being tied to one geographic location, simply hoist it onto a truck and go in search of lower bills. At each location, all that's needed is power and data connections and a feed of chilled water for cooling.
|Cooling connections on the Blackbox
Sun has been rolling its Blackbox around the United States for the past few months to drum up customer interest. While it's remaining tight-lipped about actual orders, there are reports that 20 companies have already signed on the dotted line.
Next month it heads to Australia for a couple of whistle stop appointments. It will be in Sydney on December 18 and Canberra on December 20. Keep an eye out for it.