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Dell squeezes cloud into a shipping container

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Exclusive Sun Microsystems endured a lot of ribbing when it first popped out a data center in a shipping container. Now, however, it looks like all the majors are heading in that direction, including Dell, which The Register has learned has a containerized data center in development.

"We have (a container system) in the works for a customer," said a Dell insider. "We are looking at that space very, very closely."

According to multiple sources, Dell's container plans extend beyond a one-off box. So, Dell will join the likes of Sun, Rackable Systems and Verari that already have so-called White Trash Data Centers, and IBM, which plans to work its iDataPlex units into containers.

Initially, server makers pitched the containers as options for government customers, national labs and financial services types that needed a ton of horsepower but didn't want to shell out for a new data center. The Army, for example, could dump a data center in a container anywhere as long as it had power and water, and financial services types in New York could place these systems on the top of buildings, since they've run out of in-building space.

Microsoft recently took things to the next level by buying close to 200 containers to power its cloud.

Interestingly, Dell has been working with Liebert for some time around cooling, and there is some suspicion that Dell's container will use refrigerant based micro-channel coils with a refrigerant-to-water heat exchanger for external cooling connectivity. Those in the know also say it's unlikely that Dell will have a built-in uninterruptible power supply. That may not be such a big deal if Dell wants the Microsoft business, since Redmond's request for proposals didn't demand an integrated UPS or so we hear.

Based on all of this, it sounds a lot like Dell geared up a container for Microsoft's late April RFP.

And now let's get to that search darling.

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