"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Datacenter in a Shipping Container

Sun Black Box
Saw today on slashdot that Sun Microsystems is working on a datacenter in a box. Google's been rumored to have a similar plan.

The idea is simple and smart: you take a shipping container and retrofit it with racks, HVAC, security and networking/electic cables, then you drop it on some dark fiber line, throw in a grip of servers and you've got a local datacenter. Build a national nodal network; give a city blazing-fast access to content via local caching; the possibilities are many.

Back in the 90s, at my first tech job, we were working on plans for stuff like this. It was a wild and shady outfit: the bosses played fast and loose and smoked tons of pot, but they had a vision and a few talented people (not me: I was just a young padwan learner at the time) and for a little while they even had money (of which I got none). But it all went up in a puff of bad management, shoddy/nonexistant planning, and a double-dose of being a decade ahead of your time. C'est la vie.

Anyway, at the time we were calling the concept "Microproperty" and the idea was that there would be all sorts of buisness for geographically localized data services. This was before the Big Bells broke the backs of the so-called CLECs (Competative Local Exchange Carriers -- smaller business that were supposed to be able to compete w/the likes of Verizon), so the initial applications were around telephony. There were also plans for all sorts of verticals: cable tv, electricity, even goods and services. It was a nice dream for world domination, but sadly world domination doesn't usually work out and this was no exception.

However, there's still a big market for this sort of stuff in the next 10 to 20 years. Right now there are too few datacenters in too few places offering too poor of a service. Somday down the line there may be so many powerful "personal" computers on a robust enough network to make everything distributed, but for the time being you still need a hunk-o-fiber and a bad-ass-box to run real services. If Sun or Google get this off the ground, it should open up that market, letting big players expand geographically and smaller players start up locally. Could be hot.