Sun Blackbox – Rapidly Deployable Data Center

Sun Blackbox on Mars Sun‘s Project Blackbox — data center in a standard 20-foot shipping container, coming mid-next year, which CEO Jonathan Schwartz introduced here. Up to 250 servers, or 1.5 perabytes of storage. All you need is space, power and water to have your own data center hosted. Let me check my backyard — space? Just fit. Power? Check — I’ll pull one from the house. It is supposed to be power efficient, right? Water? Feel free to use one of my gardening hose. Looks like I am all ready to power the next mega Web 2.0 company!

Better, if it can indeed get electricity from solar power, like this image showing on Sun’s website. That would save me a few dollars on bills from Energy Australia.

Starting price? $500,000. Which would be peanuts if you get acquired by Google for 1.65 billion dollars.

Seriously, while the idea behind Project Blackbox is ingenious, it is no more than a strategy for Sun to sell more boxes. If people are thinking about ecology impact. reducing energy bills, better power utilisation, etc, they need to start thinking about building better and more efficient software applications and taking advantage of virtualization and clustering to increase CPU utilisation.

Sometimes I wonder why many Web 2.0 sites require so much server power. CPU power in servers increases every year, but somehow they can never keep up with the traffic. Markus Frind criticised Digg requiring 75 servers, and then someone commented:

Saving 10, 20, or even 100K/month in servers now is not a big picture thing. Nailing a deep strategic partnership with a yahoo or viacom is a big picture thing – and one that technical inefficiency won’t necessarily affect.

Point taken. Reducing power consumption, increase software efficiency, minimising server costs — these don’t matter. After all, servers are cheap, coders are not, and timing is super-expensive. Don’t have time to tighten up the code? Buy more servers and buy more time, and pray that Google, Yahoo, Microsoft or Amazon will buy you before the bank account runs dry.

Sun Project Blackbox — helps your incompetent developers to buy more time. Why not?

Update: David Douglas from Sun showing off the Blackbox. Very impressive.