Firm promises new take on containerized data centers

I/o Data Centers will formally announce plans in two weeks to enter the containerized data center market

I/o Data Centers hopes to leapfrog the competition by developing what it claims will be a new, more integrated type of containerized data center, the company said on Friday.

I/o is best known for building and managing traditional brick-and-mortar data centers, but the company has been developing a containerized product for the past year and will make a formal announcement in two weeks, said Kindra Martone, i/o senior vice president and general manager, at the Datacenter Dynamics conference in San Francisco on Friday.

The company isn't giving many details about the product yet, and Martone said it won't be ready to go on sale when the formal announcement is made. I/o Data Centers will share some "high-level" details of what the product will look like and release it at a later date, she said.

The company did give some clues Friday about what it has planned, however. Andreas Zoll, i/o's director of data center engineering, gave a talk at the conference on what the "next generation" of containerized data centers will look like. At the end of Zoll's speech, Martone said the company will sell just such a product.

One difference will be that most current containerized data centers, sold by Hewlett-Packard, IBM, SGI and others, are built using standard 20- and 40-foot shipping containers. The next generation -- and presumably the upcoming product from i/o -- will use a custom-built container that provides more space for the equipment inside, Zoll said.

"You're spending a lot of money on these modular solutions. Do you want to squeeze them into an existing box or build something that really suits your needs? I think we've done a lot of squeezing in the past," he said.

The next generation will also come with the power and cooling equipment built in, he said. Today, customers often locate their containers near an existing data center because they need access to cooling, power and back-up power supplies. For remote locations, customers can also buy cooling gear and generators that are packed into separate containers, then linked to the container with the IT gear.

Future products will have those pieces integrated from the start, allowing them to be more finely tuned for energy efficiency and making the containers "location independent," Zoll said. He suggested they will be delivered as a single unit, rather than multiple containers, but it wasn't entirely clear.

They can also be fitted with satellite hook-ups so they can be remotely managed and monitored. And Zoll even suggested that future containers could be entirely self-sufficient, using compressed gas for power, so they don't need to be operated near a power supply. Martone wouldn't say if that's one of the goals for i/o's own product.

For example, a self-contained data center might provide computing resources on a LAN at a military site or on an oil rig.

The company clearly hopes to shake up the market, but it faces several challenges, including the fact that there are already several established players and it may be some time before i/o's first product goes on sale.

Unlike other makers of containerized data centers, i/o Data Centers doesn't have its own IT equipment to sell. Containers from HP, IBM and others can accommodate third-party equipment, but they often ship filled primarily with the vendor's own gear.

I/o Data Centers could try to promote that as an advantage, saying it doesn't have a vested interest in the equipment it recommends for customers.

The market is still relatively new, Zoll noted. "We're trying to decide whether we're still looking at a niche market or the future of data centers," he said.

IDC has estimated that just 84 containerized data centers will be sold this year, with the figure doubling next year, but it has also said its estimate might be conservative.

One of the main arguments for containers is that they allow a company to add extra compute capacity in less than 100 days, versus a year or more to build a new data center. They also defer the high costs of building a new facility, and they generally can be made much more energy efficient.

Containers are less flexible, however, in terms of the equipment they can contain. And they remain unfamiliar to many data center managers, some of whom question the security of locating a portable data center outdoors.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags data centresenvironmentcontainersGreen data center

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2018

With determination and drive, you achieve outstanding performance! Get Bitdefender Total Security 2018 Now!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?