IBM Shines Spotlight on Its Container Data Center Ecosystem

IBM Shines Spotlight on Its Container Data Center Ecosystem

At the Gartner Data Center Conference today, IBM highlighted the technologies that go into the company's Portable Modular Data Center (PMDC), and showed how the energy-efficient computing center can be applied to a range of companies and locations.

The laundry list of tech firms that have incorporated their innovations into the PMDC -- including APC by Schneider Electric, Emerson Network Power, Eaton and Panduit -- is intended to show how IBM's "data center in a box" is an open architecture that can be adapted to work with any type of IT hardware, and that it offers nearly plug-and-play functionality for expanding or upgrading data center systems.

Brian Canney, Global Site and Facilities Services Offering Manager at IBM, explained in a phone interview that interest in the PMDC is taking off, about 18 months after IBM first launched its PMDC solutions.

"When the containers were first announced, there were many clients who were interested, and came around to kick the tires," Canney told GreenerComputing. "Now they've taken in the info, done their studies, and they're coming back for a serious look."
What's driving interest in these data center containers are several factors: In addition to markets that IBM predicted would benefit from modular data centers -- like oil exploration projects, mining firms or companies launching a presence in emerging markets -- companies are coming to container-based solutions when there is no more power available to their existing sites, if they have power and cooling, but they've run out of physical space for their hardware, or if they're looking to expand their compute power in areas where they can benefit from free cooling.

Canney said that large IT firms, financial institutions and even militaries from around the world are some of the unexpected customers for the PMDC, which can be set up almost anywhere in a relatively quick turnaround time -- 12 to 14 weeks in Canney's estimation, compared to 18-24 months to build a new data center from the ground up.

Canney also touted the green benefits to container-based data centers, which offer a PUE of around 1.3 for the standard designs, but which can drop to as low as 1.09 when they're located in regions with partial or year-round free cooling.