It's not quite Space Mountain. But an IBM data center features prominently in a new attraction at the Epcot theme park at Walt Disney World, giving visitors a closer look at the technology playing an ever-larger role in their daily lives.
The data center is part of IBM's SmarterPlanet exhibit within Epcot's Innoventions center, which illustrates the role computers play in addressing complex challenges like reducing traffic and crime, and improving food safety and local water supplies.
The exhibit’s glass storefront provides a glimpse of the working IBM Smarter Data Center, which powers the exhibit, and educates visitors about the servers, storage and networking equipment that serve up their favorite web sites and cloud computing services.
Higher Profile for Racks and Servers
The exhibit is the latest sign data center technology is gaining a higher profile, slowly shedding the anonymity of the back-office server room or remote data center in a secure, undisclosed location. As the Internet becomes a more integral part of everyday life and the American economy, the back-end is moving out front.
The SmarterPlanet exhibit "brings to life the many ways in which IBM technologies are invisibly woven into the way people live, work and play,” said Gary Cohen, IBM General Manager, Global Communications Sector. “The objective is for guests to walk away understanding the increasing role technology will play in improving the quality of life for people across the world.”
The experience "encourages guests to think about their individual role in creating a smarter planet as well as understand how smarter data centers are the heart of a more sustainable, technology-enabled world," IBM said.
The Smarter Data Center in the exhibit is a version of IBM’s Scalable Modular Data Center, a pre-engineered 500 or 1,000 square foot data center that can be rapidly deployed.
The product's energy efficiency and standardized design can help organizations reduce the expense and deployment time needed to expand IT operations. The Smarter Data Center also includes a demonstration of IBM Cloudburst technology, which can helps customers quickly develop and deploy applications for cloud computing.
Since the Smarter Data Center is equipped with more computing horsepower than is needed to run the exhibit, IBM will donate unused computing resources to the World Community Grid, which pools thousands of individual computers worldwide. The grid's massive computational power is equivalent to a supercomputer, helping accelerate medical, humanitarian and environmental research.
Interactive Trip Through Computer History
For younger guests, the exhibit also features Runtime, an attraction created by Walt Disney Imagineering that transforms guests into personalized avatars as part of a video game experience. Players can run, jump and dance through a timeline of the history of computing, journeying from the Babbage computer, through vacuum tubes and chips and bits, to the Internet.
Here's a broader look at the SmarterPlanet exhibit: