IBM Steps Up Its Partner-Driven Container Game

IBM is getting serious about data center containers. Big Blue brought one of its 40-foot Portable Modular Data Center (PMDC) containers to the Gartner Data Center Conference and is emphasizing partnerships in the container market, where it has followed a different path than several of its competitors.

Attendees at the Gartner Data Center Conference tour the IBM Portable Modular Data center (PMDC) on display on the expo floor Tuesday at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.

Attendees at the Gartner Data Center Conference tour the IBM Portable Modular Data center (PMDC) on display on the expo floor Tuesday at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS - IBM is getting serious about data center containers. Big Blue brought one of its 40-foot Portable Modular Data Center (PMDC) containers to the Gartner Data Center Conference, where it shares the expo floor with the HP and SGI containers that have been regulars at industry conferences for several years now. Today IBM announced a formidable lineup of partners who will help it outfit the containers to customer specifications.

Partnerships are critical to IBM's strategy in the container market, where it has followed a different path than several of its competitors. Rather than advancing a particular design vision, IBM has positioned its container as perhaps the most flexible of the major container offerings, promising to customize the PMDC to each customer's requirements. That includes the basic container configuration, as IBM offers its "data center in a box" in 20, 40 and 53-foot sizes, and can either place the mechanical and electrical gear in a separate container or have it share a single container with racks of IT gear.

Introduced in 2008
IBM introduced its container product in May 2008 as part of a broader rollout of modular data center designs for pods and zones within larger environments. The higher profile of the IBM container at the Gartner Data center Conference likely reflects growing interest in containers among the enterprise companies that make up a substantial chunk of the attendees for the Gartner event.

Big Blue offers its container through a partnership with AST Global, the Spanish company that makes the containers, which it showed off at the CeBIT conference earlier this year. APC by Schneider Electric, Eaton Corporation, Emerson Network Power, Panduit, Anixter, Siemon, and Vette Corp.

Sams: Partners Provide More Options
"These partnerships allow IBM to produce a broader lineup of solutions to provide cost-effective and flexible data center alternatives from mid-size companies to large enterprises requiring remote and temporary data center capacity," said Steven Sams, vice president of Site and Facilities for IBM Global Technology Services. "Consequently, IBM offers the most comprehensive range of options for clients, with the IBM Data Center Family, to support their business growth in a cost-effective manner."

The PMDC can support multiple technology vendors and multiple systems in an industry standard rack environment and enables complete access to both the front and rear of the IT equipment from within a physically and environmentally secure container.

Racks on Rails
One of the most interesting features seen in the PMDC are the rails embedded in the floor, which allow racks of servers and storage to slide back and forth to allow staff access for maintenance. This also provides flexibility in positioning the cabinets within the container. The 40-foot unit on display here in Las Vegas includes UPS models from several vendors, as well as a separate area for chillers that has an open roof.

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