You need to compute everywhere and anywhere in the 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 containerized data centers 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 containerized data centers. 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 hyper scale data centre created by DCS
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 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.
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 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 or 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 and various means by road and rail. The data centre can be fork lifted 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 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.
There is an expectation that American allies will want them as well and they will be manufactured overseas too.
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