SAVE: Container Server Vault from Firelock
January 15th, 2010 By: Rich Miller
The number of providers offering data center containers continues to grow. Firelock has introduced a version of its fire-proof “server vault” housed in a 40-foot shipping container, known as the Secure Agile Vault Environment (SAVE) . The product is an adaptation of the company’s room-sized modular fireproof vaults for use in traditional data center facilities. The container includes a fireproof vault in the center area, with a vestibule in front and a mechanical room at the rear. The design features eight server cabinets equipped with rear door heat exchangers from Vette Corporation, supported by a chiller and Vette’s Coolant Distribution unit (CDU), which Firelock says will allow the container to operate with only power and network hookups. This video from Firelock provides additional standards on the SAVE container’s fireproofing and design, and runs about 5 minutes.
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I just watched the video, and my initial observations are that these guys come from the building/construction world and not the IT world. The capacity as stated in the video is 8 cabinets, roughly 1/3 of the HP equivalent (as an example). Maybe I am old school but I want water in the container walls or heat exchangers, NOT inches from my mission critical stuff.
There was no mention of the electrical design, the distribution, the telco components, again leading me to conclude that these were folks from the construction realm who knew about containers, knew that there were decent margins when you put computer stuff in them, but missed the mark in terms of density and seeing the solution from an IT/data center perspective. They also appear to be going after a niche of of a niche – I dont recall seeing many fires in data centers in the past 10 years. I’d be curious to see what that number is.
All that said, I will keep an eye on them and will inquire about pricepoints. At 1/3 the density, I hope they are 1/3 the cost.
Mark: I think you’re right. It seems to me that the growing segmentation of the container market is driven by the different ways that both vendors and end users see the opportunity. Firelock’s core offering is fire vaults, and in this case the container is another form factor in which to deliver it, not unlike the way Active Power is using PowerHouse containers as a vehicle to sell flywheels. To make this work, you have to partner well and assemble a full offering that addresses the customers’ needs. On the customer side, some see containers as a density and efficiency play, while others are attracted by the remote computing possibilities, and will trade more mobility for fewer racks. At the Gartner event, SGI’s presentation included containers for government customers partitioned to include a compute environment and a small office area for analysts.
I have whiteboarded some SCIFs for .mil applications and have other designs that support compute, compute & storage, and compute/storage/office, complete with multi layer biometrics, welded seams, the whole nine yards. Even solutions that will wipe disks with a non-toxic agent and make the IT equipment totally unusable.
That to me is more important than fireproofing and seems to be more important to end users. The recurring themes I see are cost mitigation, increasing density, maximizing efficiency (cost), and most recently the ability to knit the containers together to support DR, and portable DR solutions.
I am still waiting for the container marina to pop up to park the ‘yachts’ too.