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Eighteen months ago HP launched a self-contained portable data center to address customers with limited space and/or budgets looking to expand their IT capabilities. Just add the IT products and services and you had a ready-to-run IT facility in a forty-foot container. This week the company expanded its POD (Performance-Optimized Datacenter) line with a 20-foot version that comes in at half the price — $600,000 — of its big brother.

"It delivers all of the same types of benefits that the 40-foot had," says Wade Vinson, POD architect, power and cooling strategist, HP Scalable Computing and Infrastructure (SCI) organization. A fully prepped unit can be shipped out of the factory in less than six weeks from the order, he says. "Our design ensures that anything can go into it."

HP will continue to sell the 40-foot version, but right from the original launch, the need for a smaller version was made clear. "We had customers from day one saying they don’t need the 40-foot POD, or they don’t need that power, or they’re space limited."

That’s what really drove the development of the smaller offering, says Vinson. With the 20-foot POD, customers could be fully utilized in a day, at a much lower cost. "This is more about capacity expansion," he adds. He cites early customers in the oil industry, central Europe and transportation where the smaller form factor just made more sense.

"People are looking at this as a replacement. The competition out there is I need more data center space and I want to do it with something that is lower cost, and more energy/space efficient."

The POD delivers the equivalent of 2,000 square feet of datacenter space in a 20-foot shipping container with ten, 50-unit high (50-U) racks. HP says it improves energy efficiency by 50 percent with a power usage efficiency (PUE) ratio of up to 1.251 due to a closely-coupled thermal design, and lowers capital expenditures by 15 to 40 percent and operating expenses by up to 30 percent compared to a traditional datacenter – by providing ‘pay-as-you grow’ flexibility. Vinson, who was also responsible for the 40-foot version, says the smaller edition offers "world-class energy efficiency."

Other specs include: support for more than 1,500 compute nodes or 5,000 large form factor hard drives with up to 291kW of power distribution (or 145kW redundant power); support for HP and third-party technologies; and increases serviceability with a single utility closet that consolidates operational panels and offers easier hot aisle access through a new closely-hinged door design.

Vinson thinks this is a good opportunity for HP’s channel partners to get in at the ground floor of data center design and implementation, rather than just providing various components. "They have a much larger opportunity to have a business-level conversation with the customer at day one, other than just a supplier."