Sun pitches Project Blackbox to feds

Sun Microsystems wants federal agencies to throw their information technology into shipping containers.

The computing company is offering its Project Blackbox system for use in disaster recovery and consolidation. Project Blackbox is a data center encased in a shipping container, which can then be sealed or locked and protected against physical tampering and weather. It contains eight server racks, a cooling system, power grid, fire suppression and shock absorbers.

“You can put whatever you want on those racks -- up to 200, 220 kilowatts of computing power, tape, storage, CPUs, [dynamic RAM] — in whatever configuration mode, whatever software you want and shut the door and drive it wherever you want,” Sun co-founder and Chairman Scott McNealy said.

McNealy said the Defense Department and Federal Emergency Management Agency expressed interest in Project Blackbox for mobile applications, such as easily movable bases overseas or disaster response. For larger IT deployments, multiple boxes can be used.

“By putting [the IT center] in a hermetically sealed box, literally you can deploy on a couple of big cargo ships an entire Desert Storm-style deployment,” McNealy said.

However, Project Blackbox could also be used for permanent agency IT centers because of the low cost of upgrades and maintenance, he said. Containers can be sent back to Sun, which would handle the hardware, while the data is managed at the agency level.

McNealy also suggested storing the containers near power sources, stacking them on top of one another or burying them 30 feet underground to maximize space.

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