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Dell chief stuffs data center into suitcase

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Sun Microsystems took data centers mobile when it embraced shipping containers, but Dell's gone further - and smaller - with a data center in a briefcase.

Self-outed Dell geek Jimmy Pike has built a data-center in a briefcase, hacking together a dual-socket server cluster featuring a pair of 2.5GHz Intel processors and a combined 32Gb memory and 4Tb storage on two machines running Windows Server 2003 and Red hat Enterprise Linux.

Pike happens to be the director of systems architecture for Dell's data center solutions group, and he likes to take his work - meaning servers - home.

Dell's director, a veteran of NCR and Intel, said he just started hacking things together in his garage one Saturday afternoon.

"I decided it could be a cool thing to build a couple of servers in a brief case. That way, when I bring things back and forth from home to work, it wouldn't be so much trouble," he told Dell cloud computing evangelist Barton George during a video posted here and below.

"I wondered if I could cram everything I wanted into this briefcase."

Turns out he could. "I call it a portable for the architect on the go," Pike said.

What exactly is in Pike's portable? Two 16Gb servers running a pair of L5420 Xeon 2.5 processors - previously known as Harpertown - and sporting a pair of one-terabyte, 3.5 SATA devices. There's a five-port Ethernet switch and everything's running off one of Dell's single, central power supply units.

Pike's also thrown in two 500Gb scratch discs for testing and a pair of Solid-State Drives because he's "constantly running into questions about SSDs and how they behave." And yes, there's cooling with six fans.

The only thing not included is virtualization, so the two machines are running their copies of Windows 2003 and RHEL separately. ®

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