Are more dynamic data centers the way forward?

There is a huge post well worth reading ‘Our vision for Generation 4 Modular Data Centers – One way of getting it just right’ or for those with a shorter attention span a video with some nice music….

All great stuff, but where this gets interesting is the concept of being able to commission and decommission datacenters quickly in an ever changing world.  One thing the current economic crisis has taught people is things can change fast, really fast.

It appears that Google are slowing down the expansion of data centers ‘So much for the Googley Treats’ with the cancellation of a new data plant in Oklahoma and stopping work in Lenoir, North Carolina. 

If the world is expecting cloud services to provide massive scalability at the flick of a switch, those providing it have to be able to react in time.  The post Microsoft to Google: Get off my cloud outlines how Microsoft started to take control of designing and building data centers led by Debra Chrapaty VP for Global Foundation Services. Reducing the time to deliver these centers is obviously key, with times down to 9 months to build a facility how do you make it even smaller? 

The latest center uses servers, networking, wires etc packed into shipping containers.  These can be built offsite and brought in when needed – plug and play!  Each container holds up to 2,500 servers and with space in the center for 224 containers you get 560,000 servers.  This massively reduces the time to build onsite, as anyone who has had to unpack, rack, cable and test servers would agree.

Where this concept has added interest in me is around the issue of data sovereignty that many Government organizations wrestle with when talking about Cloud Platforms such as Azure.  Is the view that this capability will be delivered by a small number of very large (and very expensive) data centers wrong?  If we start to live in a world of smaller more agile data centers delivering services – do we need to revisit some assumptions?

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