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Microsoft researcher obsessed with white trash data centers

Sun and Rackable pick up the phone

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A Microsoft researcher has provided his seal of approval to the white trash data centers promoted by Sun Microsystems and Rackable Systems.

Windows Live architect and former DB2 lead architect James Hamilton has pumped out a presentation, detailing reasons why data centers in shipping containers make sense.

While thin on content, Hamilton's slideware provides the most significant embrace to date of Sun and Rackable's way out there ideas. Could Microsoft be the first major vendor to don the wife beater of mobile, compact energy consumption?

We're guessing – yes.

Hamilton's slides borrow heavily from Rackable's recent presentation of Concentro with the engineer using the server maker's photos and messages. Like Sun's Project Blackbox, Concentro packs a ton of servers, storage systems and networking into a standard shipping container. The hardware keeps cool via water and centralized fans. Overall, the well-engineered white trash data centers can consume up to 80 per cent less power than a traditional data center running on top of raised floors.

In addition, customers can ship the white trash data centers wherever they like and essentially set up a supercomputer on the fly. Sun and Rackable claim that space constrained types and those hoping to control energy costs will ship the white trash systems out to areas with clean, cheap power.

Microsoft would fit this ideal customer profile since it's in the midst of building out huge data centers to keep up with Google, Yahoo! and the like. And, as a Windows Live engineer focused on managing very large scale data center, Hamilton must be on the front lines of Microsoft's efforts.

The engineer's presentation touts all the right things, so far as Sun and Rackable would be concerned. He points out that the white trash data centers save on packaging, power and cooling costs and administration costs.

“Where do you want to compute today?”, the engineer asks at the end of the presentation, hyping the portability features of the container systems already hyped by Sun and Rackable. Lucky for the hardware vendors, Hamilton gave this presentation at an Amazon Internal Developers Conference. So, the house that Bezos built has heard the pitch too.

So far, IBM, HP and Dell have mostly scoffed at the white trash play. They might, however, want to see if Redmond recently placed a large wife beater order. ®

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