Cisco Moving into Containerized Data Center Business

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2010-03-12 Print this article Print

The Internet networking giant is moving its UCS into the portable container data center market, similar to what IBM, the former Sun Microsystems (now Oracle), Hewlett-Packard, Dell-Microsoft and SGI (formerly Rackable) have been doing for the last few years.

One year ago, Internet pipe fitter Cisco Systems entered the data center systems business with the introduction of the Unified Computing System, which features the company's first-ever application server and includes all necessary data routing.

The UCS' network-centric data center infrastructure authorizes partners such as EMC, BMC, NetApp, VMware and Intel to provide components that Cisco does not make.

Now the Internet networking giant is moving its UCS into the portable container data center market, similar to what IBM, the former Sun Microsystems (now Oracle), Hewlett-Packard, Dell-Microsoft and SGI (formerly Rackable) have been doing for the last few years.

These portable data centers come in standard 40-by-8-feet and 20-by-8-feet shipping containers for transport on ships and trucks. All the necessary servers, storage and networking equipment are crammed into these containers; all that's needed on location are electrical power and cooling-fluid sources.

This will give Cisco another way to sell its UCS-an IT package upon which the company is banking heavily to expand its market reach.

A Cisco spokesperson issued the following statement March 12 in answer to an eWEEK query: "Cisco's data center solution has been integrated into containers as way for our customers to quickly and easily deploy data center capabilities. A natural evolution of this is the Cisco Containerized Data Center, although the exact form it will take has not yet been determined."

HP and Oracle Sun make both 20- and 40-foot models; the others are generally focused on the full-sizers.

Generally, portable data centers are deployed for work done by military, science and high-performance enterprises. The frames and shells are very rugged and temperature-proof; some are being used in hot climates, such as the Middle East, and in hard-to-reach locations, such as oil and gas exploration locations. Some are used on ocean-going research vessels.

With no fanfare, Cisco posted a downloadable data sheet on its corporate site the week of March 8 introducing the Cisco Containerized Data Center. Here it is in PDF form.

Since Cisco is a software-producing company, one can be certain that if and when it does start shipping custom-made containerized data centers, the company will again rely on key partner-vendors to fulfill orders. Oddly, some of those partners will be companies already competing in the space, such as those mentioned above.

The IT partner business has been hard to figure for a long time, so this is nothing new. A company that competes directly with another on a co-op product like a portable data center (which has a long list of specialized components) won't think twice about buying a specific part from that competitor to complete the order. It can be a win-win for the right "coopetitioners."

Cisco claims that by purchasing a portable data center-which cost around $1.2 million for a 40-foot, fully loaded model and some $600,000 for a 20-footer-an enterprise can save 50 percent in capital expenses and 30 percent in operating expenses compared with a similar-sized, permanent land-based facility. But those are very general numbers.

For more information, go here.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel