Dell's New Mobile Data Center Aimed at Military, Emergency Responders
Dell officials are unveiling their latest containerized data center, a highly mobile solution that targets military operations and first responders when speed and mobility are crucial.
Unlike larger mobile data centers from Dell and other vendors, Dell's customizable Tactical Mobile Data Center is smaller--in the area of 10 feet by 10 feet by 10 feet, according to John Fitzgerald, CTO of Dell Federal--and can be flown to a site rather than having to be trucked in.
What it delivers is a complete IT backbone that is self-contained, offers all the necessary servers, storage and networking products, power supplies and cooling capabilities, and quickly can be delivered and deployed in harsh environments.
"One of the key drivers behind the development of the Tactical Mobile Data Center was being able to move it in and out of there quickly," Fitzgerald told eWEEK.
Sun Microsystems introduced the first commercial containerized data center several years ago, and since then, most other systems makers--from Hewlett-Packard and IBM to SGI and, most recently, Cisco Systems--have rolled out their own offerings. Some are as small as 20 feet, while others are larger. Dell has containers ranging from 20 feet to 57 feet, according to Fitzgerald.
Mobile data centers have numerous uses, from offering enterprises a quick and relatively inexpensive way to add capabilities, to existing data centers to use by the military as fixed data centers. Dell's Tactical Mobile Data Center, announced July 17, will enable military and government operations and first-responder units to get the IT capabilities closer to the action and get the necessary data to the soldiers or emergency workers more quickly, Fitzgerald said.
Each unit can hold up to three 42U (73.5-inch) server racks, with each rack having 15 kilowatts of power capacity. They include Dell server and storage products, data connections that can be fiber, copper or BNC connectors and power distribution units. A container can hold up to 10,000 pounds.
The data centers are cooled through a Glycol closed-loop system, they can be powered through outside sources or generators--or both--and use quick disconnect cables for power, cooling and data, which enables users to get them up and running quickly after they're deployed.
The data centers are in weather-resistant ISU-96 containers that are 4G Flight-Certified, so they can be transported in military or commercial airplanes.
Fitzgerald said being able to get the IT capabilities as physically close to the front lines as possible is becoming more important. Pointing to Predator drone aircraft that are used to gather information from battle zones, he said the technology on the aircraft--from the cameras used to the information-collecting capabilities--is getting more sophisticated and more precise. There are more data feeds coming from the Predators, increasing the amount of data that needs to be quickly collected, analyzed and shared with front-line troops. The closer that information is to the troopers, the faster that information can be relayed to them, he said.
The Tactical Mobile Data Center is available immediately.