Tens of deals in the pipeline for HP's POD data centre

Vendor unveils first operational containerised data centre in the Central Coast in NSW

On the back of securing a contract to supply its POD container data centre to the iVEC Informatics Facility at Murdoch University in WA as part of a bid for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, HP is reporting “tens” of other deals for its POD systems in the pipeline.

The vendor launched its first operational POD (which stands for Performance Optimised Datacentre) for the Asia-Pacific region at partner, Verb DC’s facility in the North Wyong Industrial Park (NWIP) on the Central Coast area of NSW.

A 20-foot un-configured POD (PDF) costs $600,000, but Verb outfitted a custom built facility to house the high-density container in 16 weeks for $5 million and has an unnamed automotive industry customer as its foundation client.

See related article: Slideshow: Verb IT first with HP Performance Optimised Datacentre (POD) |

At the launch, HP vice president and general manager, ProLiant servers, Stephen Bovis, told Computerworld Australia the vendor was optimistic about take-up of the PODs and there were already “tens” of deals in the pipeline across Asia-Pacific.

Earlier in the month, HP announced it won the deal to provide the iVEC facility, part of the $66 million Pawsey High Performance Computer (HPC) in Western Australia that is supporting the SKA bid, with one of its PODs; which is now on route via ship.

The Pawsey Centre will utilise $80 million in funding towards a new building at CSIRO in Perth and is looking to secure a $40 million supercomputer capable of petaflop-scale processing.

The $5 million Linux cluster, housed in the modified shipping container, uses HP ProLiant blade servers with 9600 cores and 500TB of storage.

The full centre is expected to be completed in 2011 and fully operational by the second quarter of 2013.

The iVEC Informatics Facility is located at Murdoch University, South Street campus. iVEC is a joint venture between CSIRO and Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University, Curtin University of Technology and the University of Western Australia.

Users of the Stage 1A system in the POD are expected to include researchers in the nanotechnology, marine science, bioinformatics, resources and radio astronomy fields.

The SKA project will use a telescope 50 times more sensitive than current instruments and about 3600 antennae spread over thousands of kilometres to peer into deep space.

It will capture data on the evolution of galaxies, dark matter and energy, providing insight into the origins of the universe about 13 billion years ago.

Australia's bid comprises telescopes across Australia and New Zealand, and is facing off against a similar bid from South Africa to host the global astronomy project.

The SKA is expected to present enourmous engineering challenges with huge amounts of data being created that require massive amounts of processing power and storage in order to create useful information.

Containerised data centres are emerging as an option for organisations that struggle with power, cooling, space and environmental concerns. They are also a new front of competition between vendors.

In December last year, industrial machinery provider, WesTrac, became the first company to deploy a multimillion dollar IBM Portable Modular Data Centre (PMDC) in Australia.

The company deployed the PMDC, which is essentially a modified shipping container hosting a range of IT equipment with fully redundant power and cooling, in the car park of its Perth head quarters.

Earlier this year, power and cooling company APC also announced intentions to make a push into the market.

However, according to statistics from IDC there were only 60 containerised data centres sold worldwide last year.

Other vendors in the market include Sun Microsystems (now part of Oracle), Rackable Systems (now called SGI), and Dell.