Feeds

Dell airdrops military-grade data-centre-in-a-crate

Big data goes to war

High performance access to file storage

You need to compute everywhere and anywhere in this world these days, and thankfully you can always get some iron on the end of a cable to crunch the numbers.

Unfortunately, connecting into a central data centre is sometimes not only difficult but undesirable for security reasons.

That's when you go for what Dell is calling its Tactical Mobile Data Center, the next in a line of shipping container-housed modular data centres that various Dell divisions have put together over the years.

Dell's Data Center Solutions (DCS) unit is famous for building containerised data centres for Microsoft's Chicago hyperscale facility, which powers the Azure platform cloud using bespoke servers that went inside the containers.

But Dell Federal, the unit of the IT vendor that does deals with the US government, and by extension allies of the United States that often want similar gear, has also been forging its own variants of containerised data centres. A key goal is to meet the needs of the military and also customers in higher education and in the oil and gas industry, which have slightly different needs than the typical hyperscale data centre created by DCS.

Outside view of Dell's Tactical Mobile Data Center

Outside view of Dell's Tactical Mobile Data Center

The Tactical Mobile Data Center is based on an ISU-96 shipping container commonly used by the military and often equipped with refrigeration units to keep its contents cool. In this case, explains John Fitzgerald, CTO at Dell Federal and formerly a major in the US Army Field Artillery Corps, the military wanted a portable data centre that "blended in" with other containers (and therefore would not be a target) and that could also be moved around easily.

ISU-96 containers are common and the military as well as other industries have the equipment in place to move them around, so this is a logical choice for a readily portable glass metal house.

There are a number of components to the Tactical Mobile Data Center. The IT Pack is an ISU-96 container that has three 42U racks and offers a total of 120U of empty space; there are three power distribution units in the racks, which eat up some space. The baby data center has red and blue tactical lighting and also has standard lighting with service outlets.

It also has fire suppression and emergency power-off units and integrated airflow cooling with a backup ventilation unit. The data centre comes with external copper, fibre, or BNC quick-connect links to the outside world. The three racks can pack up to 10,000 pounds of IT gear in them and this iron can consume as much as 45 kilowatts and still stay within the cooling envelope of the box.

Boeing, Boeing, gone . . . to war

Boeing, Boeing, gone ... to war

The base ISU-96 IT Pack box assumes that you buy an air-conditioning uninterruptible power supply unit, which uses a glycol-based closed loop system, to cool the data centre. This AC/UPS Pack has a battery backup and power conditioning system, and can use grid or generator electricity feeds. It also fits into a separate ISU-96 container.

Emerson Power is supplying the power and battery units in this particular setup, but Fitzgerald says that Dell has other direct free cooling and air-cooled variants of the TMDC for specific environments where refrigerant cooling may not be an option.

Both units have remote environmental and security monitoring, including video cameras and intrusion detection, as well as the typical physical security you'd expect from a military installation.

Tactical Mobile Data Center with the doors off

Tactical Mobile Data Center with the doors off

The IT Pack and the AC/UPS Pack containers are both 3G flight certified, which means they can be loaded up inside the Lockheed Martin C-5 Galaxy and C-130 Hercules, Boeing C-17 Globemaster, and McDonnell Douglas KC-10 extender military airframes as well as transported by copters such as the Boeing CH-47 Chinook shown above, and various means by road and rail. The data centre can be forklifted from any side and is weather, dust and sand-proof, and wherever you have power and networking, you can get it fired up in short order.

The IT Pack has an initial list price of $221,500, and that does not include the cost of the server, storage, and switching gear from Dell (or possibly others) that you slide into it. This also does not include the cost of the AC/UPS Pack, for which pricing was not available at press time.

The TMDC has been in beta testing with one customer thus far, and now that it has been 3G flight certified, it can be more widely deployed, says Fitzgerald. Dell's Global Infrastructure Consulting Services arm is building the mobile data centres in its Austin, Texas and Miami, Florida factories for the US military.

There is an expectation that American allies will want them as well and they will be manufactured overseas too. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Seagate brings out 6TB HDD, did not need NO STEENKIN' SHINGLES
Or helium filling either, according to reports
European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive
Rules 'interfering' measure to be 'invalid'
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
Bored with trading oil and gold? Why not flog some CLOUD servers?
Chicago Mercantile Exchange plans cloud spot exchange
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.