Dell's mobile data center: When you need an IT backbone overnight

Dell Computer Inc. this week unveiled its Tactical Mobile Data Center , 1,000 square feet of computer power packed inside an industrial  container and capable of being deployed wherever government, military or commercial firms need a data center in a pinch.

The  weather-resistant ISU-96 container can be transported via military fixed-wing airframes or commercial aircraft to forward military positions or disaster recovery sites, according the firm. Because it uses quick disconnect cables for power, cooling and data, customers can have a data center up and running in most environments shortly after the container arrives, the company said.

The Tactical Mobile Data Center solution has two basic components -- an IT Pack and an AC/UPS Pack -- and operates on land power, generator power or both. The IT Pack includes server racks, power distribution units, fiber or copper connections. The AC/UPS Pack includes a glycol closed loop system that supports cooling capacity of the IT Pack, battery backup and power conditioning system. It can be configured to meet specific customer needs, the company said.

Unlike larger mobile data centers, Dell’s customizable Tactical Mobile Data Center is smaller -- about 10 feet by 10 feet by 10 feet -- Dell Federal CTO John Fitzgerald said in an interview with eWeek.

Mobile data centers are typically much larger. At the FOSE conference in July 2011, Lee Collison said that data centers at Army and Marine Corps headquarters are typically housed in trailers and they are large, bulky and complex. Those systems require a staff of trained technicians to maintain and manage them. He advocated for field-based data systems that are lightweight, easily set up and easy to use by soldiers who are not dedicated technical support personnel.

All of the services have the same basic mobile data needs: Security, data availability, power and space, Collison said. However, there is no single way to deploy data centers because they vary from mission to mission. “We do need flexibility. Each unit has their mission they’re trying to accomplish and we don’t want to restrict them,” he said.

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