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What the inside of a container data center looks like

Sun Project BlackboxThere has been a lot of talk about container data centers lately (sometimes also called modular data centers). Most of the time we are only presented with an image of a branded shipping container, but let’s face it, all the interesting stuff is on the inside!

So, since we were curious, we here at Pingdom dug through various product pages and presentations to find pictures of the insides of container data centers. As you will see, different manufacturers have very different approaches to building these things.

We have included pictures from Rackable’s ICE Cube 40-foot container data center, and Sun’s 20-foot Project Blackbox (recently redubbed to the slightly less appealing “Sun Modular Datacenter S20”), along with some basic specs for those interested.

Project Blackbox

  • 20’ x 8’ shipping container
  • 8 racks (7 racks with a total of 280 rack units available for servers)


The ICE Cube

  • 40’ x 8’ shipping container (there is also a 20’ option)
  • 28 racks (with 1,400 rack units available for Rackable’s half-depth servers)

ICE cube
ICE cube
ICE cube
ICE cube

It should be mentioned that there are also other options for container data centers, such as the FOREST data center from Verari (which probably looks entirely different inside as well).

Judging by recent news, it looks like container data centers aren’t just a fad, but have come to stay. Sun has been pushing Project Blackbox a lot, and Rackable has stated that they expect to ship 20-50 container units in 2008. Microsoft will be using between 150-220 container units to build up their Chicago data center, possibly from several different providers. Perhaps others will follow suit?

Images courtesy of Sun and Rackable.