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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Micro Data Centers: It's a Small World After All !

When we think of Data Centers, we usually visualize large sexy facilities with row upon row of servers neatly arranged in aisles, often glowing under blue and green Hollywood style lighting! 

That's not what I'm going to blog about today..... 

I'm going to talk about the "Micro" data center. There's a niche market - small, but out there nevertheless, that focuses on a few racks, sometimes a few servers bundled in an enclosure that's either simply secured or elaborately weather tight.  It makes sense for certain applications where the need for deploying IT servers is choked by the facility's ability to provide proper space, power or cooling.  The idea is that the enclosure is environmentally isolated, fully cooled and powered, and tightly secured. It can be assembled in a factory, tested, shipped and dropped anywhere ready for plug and play. 

They are branded as:
  • Micro Data Centers, 
  • Data Centers in a Row, 
  • Tactical Mobile Data Center 
The market for Micro Data Centers was somewhat limited to isolated clients with needs for HPC rapid deployments.  That is until 2012 when FAA and AOL announced plans to install Micro Data Centers provided by Elliptical Mobile Solutions on a large scale.  (FAA in April 2013 and AOL in July 2012). The news was well publicized but we didn't see a stampede of other companies anxiously signing similar deals. I would say much of the current interest is driven by the military with demand for tactical mobile high performance computing needs. Servers in vault-like enclosure that can be transported to remote locations and can withstand harsh weather conditions. 

But maybe I'm mistaken so your input is welcome. 

I'll say a closing remark here before adding the list of vendors.  As energy windows from ASHRAE are widened (think ambient cooling minus chillers, large UPS') and software applications for this type of install are worked out, I see a growing contender worthy of consideration. 

Who's currently out there in the world of Micro Data Centers; below is a list of several selected vendors but is by no means inclusive of this niche industry. 

1. Elliptical Mobile Solutions takes the lead in this arena. They offer indoor/outdoor solutions and have demonstrated demand for their product. 

2. Emerson Liebert SmartRow TM

3. SGI Mobirack

4. MicroTech MicroPodd

5. Black Box Climate Cabinets

8. RittalData Center Container

9. Fire & Ice

If I missed a vendor, please chime in and add your comments!


  1. With small size, if energy is key in the design, these type of systems then can be solar PV powered in developing regions. This keeps the data closer to end user and the ICT skill set in the developing region. read more on this -

  2. Zellabox has been developing the Micro Data Center solution for the last five years with deployments in Asia Pacific, Middle East, Latin America and Africa.
    Micro data center or MDC® has all the facilities and components of a traditional data center in a very small foot print.
    • They can be deployed in quiet office environments or rugged mining operations.
    • They minimise capital outlay
    • MDCs reduce footprint and energy consumption consumed by your traditional bricks and mortar server room.

    1. Zellabox, Thank you for your comment. very nice product.

  3. Great blog! I really love the way you share on your knowledge about this field the idea you share is more useful for me. data centers

  4. Thank you Joann! Glad you find it informative!

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  6. Nice post Ramzi! You always come with a new and innovative article, superb idea of micro data center. Waiting for your new knowledgable post.

  7. Korean company HANKYUNG I-NET has also similar products~


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