Microsoft, Google: Blackbox Customers?

Fast Company has a profile of Sun Microsystems which discusses Project Blackbox, Sun’s innovative “data center in a box,” as CEO Jonathan Schwartz’s “biggest initiative to date, and the one that best reflects his vision for the new Sun.” For those who’ve been tracking the Blackbox story, the most interesting item in the Fast Company story is a brief discussion of potential customers:

Sun is closemouthed about prelaunch buyers. Gartner’s (Laura) McLellan says that she and her colleagues are “almost entirely convinced” that Sun has been building Blackboxes for Google. (Google, notoriously secretive about its technology, won’t comment.) Silicon Valley is buzzing that Microsoft may be a customer–or be building something similar. James Hamilton, a technologist on Microsoft’s Windows Live team, said this spring that portable data centers in shipping containers were “an idea whose time has come” and could create “a competitive advantage.”

The idea that the Blackbox may be connected to Robert Cringley’s 2005 column about a containerized data center at Google is not new (we suggested as much upon the launch of the Blackbox. Speculating about Microsoft’s interest is a layup as well after Hamilton’s public embrace of the portable data center concept. For what it’s worth, Hamilton’s research discussed Rackable’s Concentro offering, a Blackbox competitor in a 40-foot “form factor,” as well as the 20-feet container approach used by the Blackbox.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.