Project Blackbox

By Deane Barker on October 19, 2006

Project Blackbox: This is the coolest thing in the history of the world. Ever. Expect to see one of these in my yard soon.

After today, you’ll never look at an ordinary shipping container quite the same way again. Project Blackbox is a prototype of the world’s first virtualized datacenter—built into a shipping container and optimized to deliver extreme energy, space, and performance efficiencies.

Designed to address the needs of customers who are running out of space, power and cooling, Project Blackbox gives customers a glimpse into the fast, cost-effective datacenter deployments coming in the near future—where thinking out of the box means putting an IT infrastructure in a box.

Via Boing Boing.



  1. Cringely predicted a year ago that Google was doing exactly this. so….. either Cringely got the wrong company, or Google hasn’t come out with theirs yet, or he gave Sun a great idea. ironically, he said this about Sun at the time: “Microsoft can’t compete. Yahoo probably can’t compete. Sun and IBM are like remora, along for the ride.”

    he wasn’t far off with the capacity estimates either, if a bit ambitious Cringely: “We’re talking about 5000 Opteron processors and 3.5 petabytes of disk storage that can be dropped-off overnight by a tractor-trailer rig.” BlackBox: “A single Project Blackbox could …. 2000 cores. … provide as much as 1.5 petabytes of disk storage”

  2. I think this is a great concept. The only hiccup I see is security. They showed a “green” datacenter outdoors next to a wind machine for power. It would not take long for a few jerks to open it up or just plow into it with a truck.

  3. $500k for seven racks and I would guesstimate 70kw worth of power(two 208v 30amp circuits per rack)? If you read Equinix’s SEC filings you will see that they spend approx $25k per rack to build their sites and in some cases that includes the cost of the Real Estate. To be clear, EQIX builds at approx 4kw per rack so you would need about 15 racks to achieve the same power density and that would cost $375k which is much less than the purported $500k for this container. This box product is such a niche offering that if Sun throws too much effort towards it they will be cutting Jonathan’s ponytail off and using it to lock the door of one of these boxes while he is inside.

    Does Sun think you are just going to park this in a garage and plug it in? There is no such thing as a 100kw receptacle. 10-15% greater efficiency on cooling? News flash people..that is nothing to get excited about. Sun could save us all much more than that if they and others designed the HARDWARE and SOFTWARE to be more efficient and let the datacenter people deal with HVAC efficiency. On top of that, when was the last time you worked with a company that had a finite growth trajectory? This product inherently has finite attributes. What happens when you fill up the seven racks? You just send them a $500k PO and back up another container in the parking lot? What happens when/if you need to downsize? Put the stupid thing on ebay? Jonathan has really lost it…perhaps he never had it becuase if this is the best he can come up with Sun is fucked.

  4. Hey Brian, perhaps you should go talk to a few companies about this idea. I know for a fact that my company is extremely interested in this for datacenter expansion and have taken a close look at the engineering inside this box. Sun has done an incredible job. As soon as it is avail. (mid next year) we will be buying at least six of these and I know of two other companies that will be buying them too.

    You also might want to get your facts straight. It has eight racks not seven. A price has not been published or proposed ot could be because companies like mine are getting them customer made to our specs. A company with finite growth?? Yah right. People like you have been saying that for the last 22 years about Sun. Take a look at the latest financial results together with the analysts ratings.

    I don’t know who you are but you obviously have a chip on your shoulder regarding Sun. Are you jealous? Do you work for HP, a company that relies on printer cartridges to turn a profit and could never even concieve of something like this?

  5. Tom – next time, you should probably refrain from commenting on things you don’t understand.

    Though you probably won’t ever make it as far, when a CEO is breathing down your throat to keep IT costs low, yet constantly be expanding capability, you’ll realize why CIOs everywhere can’t wait to get their hands on a Blackbox.

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