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Cisco's Container Allows Quick Data-Center Setup

Cisco's Container Allows Quick Data-Center Setup
By Barry Levine

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A Containerized Data Center that can be set up practically anywhere with optimized management and energy efficiency is being offered to businesses by Cisco. The CDCs have been deployed by government agencies and now Cisco is targeting business expansions and remote operations. The turnkey CDCs just need connections.
 


Cisco Systems has announced the availability of its Containerized Data Center for commercial customers. The CDC is a modular data center in a weatherized container with an open architecture and an optimized management platform.

The company said the CDC solutions are a way to quickly "expand, complement or even replace traditional fixed 'brick and mortar' data centers," reducing capital expenditures and potentially reducing operating expenses by up to 30 percent. It added that a key aspect of the CDC is its Operations 360 management system, which provides capacity planning, deployment support, real-time monitoring, historical reporting and trending, and space and environmental analytics.

'Microclimate' Control

Cisco is marketing CDCs to companies that need to quickly deploy expansions, are looking for greater efficiency or cost savings, need to quickly get up and running following a disaster or a move, have to provide a data center in a remote area, or are looking for better cost utilization.

The container is a 40x9.5x8-foot weatherized ISO container with up to 16 stackable racks, and it's able to support up to 25 kilowatts of power per rack. Options include security, fire suppression and detection, redundant feeds, humidification, an equipment hoist for loading equipment or fans, and other personalized requirements.

The management platform provides a data-collection system and related subsystems, with container-level sensors that generate alerts if defined thresholds are exceeded. An enclosed water-cooled rack design focuses cooling on the rack and not on the entire container, providing what Cisco described as a "microclimate." A rack controller dynamically controls air temperature, fan speeds, and water flow and temperature.

The containers are shipped as turnkey solutions from Cisco, completely equipped and tested, and include both Cisco and third-party equipment. The containers have been developed as a Cisco product and can be integrated with Cisco-partner products from vendors including VMware, EMC, and NetApp.

Deployment in Three Months

Installation, the company says in a brochure, "is as simple as connecting to power, chilled water, and your network," and the time from initial order to installation can be as little as three months. The water-cooling system is under the floor of the container, reducing the possibility of damage in case of a water leak. Water-cooled systems are commonly run over the top of servers.

In addition to speed and flexibility of deployment, Cisco is promoting the energy efficiency possible in a self-contained environment with highly controllable systems. Each container has a typical power-usage efficiency or PUE of less than 1.25, compared to a PUE of 1.7 to 2.0 in most brick-and-mortar data centers.

Cisco has been delivering containerized data centers to NASA and other government agencies, noted Information Technology Intelligence Corp.'s Laura DiDio, but this is the first entry into the commercial market. She said Cisco currently has orders for 150 containerized data centers from the military. Other companies offering similar solutions include IBM, Dell and Hewlett-Packard.
 

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