Cringely writeshad originally advocated the idea Google shipping data centres in a container. Sun’s Project Blackbox makes the idea a reality.
The beauty of a shipping container data center isn’t just that it operates stand-alone and can be plunked down in the parking lot of your existing data center or dropped by helicopter on the roof of your headquarters building. A great proportion of its beauty lies in the shipping container’s efficiency not as a server but as a network. It’s the largest sneakernet ever built. Moving a petabyte of data across the country using even the biggest optical fiber connection could take weeks, but the Blackbox can be installed in at most a few days.
Companies with huge data centers will use Blackboxes like school districts these days use portable classrooms, distributing them as the computing load requires with installations that will be called temporary but may well end up being permanent, at least in terms of computer-years. And the part Sun really hopes for, of course, is that big customers will keep a Blackbox or two around just in case of emergencies. At $2 million per container, a couple hundred standby units mean real money to Sun, which could use it.