Cisco’s Out of the Box Strategy: Data Center In a Box!

by Gaurav Kheterpal on May 4, 2011

Expansion is perhaps the biggest challenge in managing any data center. Boxed or portable data centers are gaining increasing acceptance these days as they can be quickly delivered to a customer’s location, and they use the all plug-and-play model to expand the capacity of an existing data center.

HP, IBM, Rackspace and Sun Microsystems (now Oracle) are currently the biggest players in the portable data center segment. On Monday, Cisco unveiled its Containerized Data Center solution and formally joined the data center in a box bandwagon.

Cisco says it’s the perfect solution for cost-effective data center deployments as it offers efficient continuity of operations, increased energy efficiency, increased power density and reduced risk. However, there’s no denying the fact that Cisco needs to overcome a massive late mover disadvantage in the fast growing portable data center market.

Containerized Data Center is a 40-foot ISO-standard steel shipping container with 16 data center racks (eight on each side), each supporting 25 KWh of power. CDC has a chilled water cooling system situated at the bottom of the container. Cisco says other portable data center’s cooling systems are located above the servers, which creates a potential hazard for the equipment if the water leaks. The networking giant claims it can deploy a Containerized Data Center (CDC) at customer location in as little as 12 weeks.

Cisco believes the world is gradually moving away from the traditional data center as it takes a long time in terms of planning and approval. In contrast, solutions such as CDC provide a dynamic solution which can be quickly deployed. CDC includes the Cisco Data Center Operations 360, which monitors rack temperature and offers real-time monitoring and historical reports for analysis. The networking giant claims CDC has a power usage efficiency (PUE) of less than 1.25, thereby making it more cost effective than traditional data centers.

Though it may be a late entrant in the portable data center market, Cisco has previously tasted containerized data centers as part of the “Pleiades” compute cloud at the NASA Ames Research Center which used Cisco’s servers wrapped in containerized data centers made by Cirrascale.

Cisco says that the CDC is the first in a line of modular data center products and there’s more good stuff to come. Though Cisco declined to comment on the pricing for CDC, I expect the networking giant to play the low-price card to step up its rivalry with HP, IBM and Dell.

Though it’s early days, some experts believe CDC isn’t for everybody and it lacks mass appeal. In general, I believe portable data centers are the future as they significantly cut down the deployment time, can be moved around and let organizations save on their IT needs in wake of changing business needs.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby: RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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