Sun Rebrands Blackbox as ‘Sun MD’

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Sun Microsystems (JAVA) is rebranding Project Blackbox, its data center in a shipping container, which will now become Sun Modular Datacenter, or Sun MD S20. Sun also announced several additional customers for the “data center in a box,” as well as a suite of support services for customers.

The company’s announcement didn’t give a reason for the rebranding, apart from it becoming a “formal product.” Sun invested heavily in publicity for the Project Blackbox brand, including a world tour in which the Blackbox prototype visited 73 cities on 4 continents and was toured by more than 12,000 customers and partners. It also wasn’t clear whether the “S20″ addendum meant other form factors would follow in the future. Rackable Systems (RACK) currently offers its ICE Cube portable data center in both 20-foot and 40-foot versions.

Sun has previously identified just two Sun MD users – the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in Menlo Park, Calif. and Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) in Moscow. Today Sun said the Sun MD has been deployed at Hansen Transmissions’ manufacturing facility in India, and Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre (UMCN) in the Netherlands.

Belgium-based Hansen Transmissions is employing Sun MD S20s in its program to expand wind turbine and industrial gearbox manufacturing facilities in India and China, while Radboud University bought a Sun Modular Datacenter to handle the overflow load from its two maxed-out server farms. Sun also said a movie studio is studying whether to do its film rendering using Sun Modular Datacenters, and then deploy the units as server farms to support marketing efforts after the movie is completed.


“In planning for Hansen Transmissions’ expansion in India, we considered building a new datacenter ourselves, but determined we needed to be able to offer IT services while the plant was under construction,” says Marnix Maes, Hansen’s director of IT, who said the company expect to use Sun MD to support its expansion in other countries, calling it “a great solution for us – cost effective and easy-to deploy.”

Officials at the SLAC also touted the impact of the Blackbox/MD on its operations. “The chief benefit is this has allowed us to increase our data processing and computing capacity faster – by a factor of three, which we couldn’t have done with any other way accessible to us,” said Richard Mount, Director of Computing Services, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. “Sun Modular Datacenter helped us answer the very real challenge of how to scale up computing resources quickly, and this has meant the difference between success and failure.”

The Sun MD is priced at $559,000.

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.