07:08 AM

The HP POD - How To Shrink A 5,000 Square Foot Data Center Into A Container


At the HP Technology Forum I got a chance to tour a HP POD (Performance Optimized Datacenter). A more suitable acronym would be "Portable Optimized Datacenter" because it is in a specially reinforced and equipped standard sized container and delivered on a flatbed truck.

Inside its 320 square foot of space is crammed the computing equivalent of a 5,000 square foot datacenter. Kevin Egan, from HP, who has to be 6 foot six in height, gave me a tour of the POD.

KevinEgan.jpg Here are some of my notes:

- Each POD is outfitted in Houston and shipped worldwide, in the future there will be regional assembly.

- It takes about six weeks to outfit a POD with all the gear.

- An empty POD costs $1.4 million to reinforce the container and equip it with its infrastructure of racks and cooling systems - before all the gear gets packed in. This is cheaper than building a data center.

- Each POD is completely self-contained with its cooling systems and can operate in temperatures from -25 degrees F to 120 degrees.

- Electric power use is extremely efficient at 1.25 PUE, compared with 2.0 and above in most data centers. This provides big savings on power costs.

- They can be stacked on top of each other but only in one layer.

- HP will eventually lease them.

- The PODs will accept standard blades from different vendors unlike some other containerized data centers which use proprietary racks.

- Customers are using them as they finish building data centers. So far, they haven't been deployed for seasonal uses.

- Customers are using PODs for disaster recovery.

- They can be deployed more quickly than building a data center because permit process is quicker, they are considered temporary structures by local zoning authorities.

- Property taxes are less for PODs. I mentioned to Steve Cumings, Director of Marketing for Scalable Computing at HP, that this could harm local communities. He said that it would make local businesses more competitive and thus support communities with jobs. Fair enough.

- If you use the new SL servers from HP announced this week that share power supplies and cooling systems and are designed for "cloud computing," you can pack 5,000 nodes into each POD, says Paul Miller VP of Marketing for Enter[rise Storage and Servers. I said this sounds like a "Cloud-in-a-box."

- PODS can be parked inside warehouses, empty shopping malls, or inside warehouses.

You can see a video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJbCNB5Da_8