By Maurice Cloutier on Mar 24, 2009
When we announced Project Blackbox in late 2006, one of the first competitors to jump on the containerized datacenter bandwagon was Rackable Systems. Given their reportedly tight sales relationship with Microsoft and Yahoo!, one would expect that they would parlay this relationship into revenue sales for their containerized solution.
Apparently, so did Rackable. In the Register on 7 February 2008, Rackable CEO Mark Barrenechea suggested that their containerized datacenter sales "could be somewhere in the range of 20 to 50 (in 2008)."
Alas, one year later, the Register reported on 13 February 2009 from CEO Barrenechea that Rackable "did not recognize any revenue from its ICE Cube containers in 2008."
What does this say about Rackable's containerized datacenter specifically and the containerized datacenter market in general?
IMO, because Rackable is a relatively small company with total sales less than $250 million for 2008, it is more susceptible to the vicissitudes of the market. Or, as they say without the SAT prep vocabulary, when Microsoft sneezes, Rackable catches a cold. Furthermore, the Rackable ICE Cube containerized datacenter is narrowly designed for high density, fixed installations. Verari, HP, and Dell have created similar solutions and are competing for the same business.
Conversely, the Sun Modular Datacenter is designed and supported for the broader, global market. Ours is the only containerized datacenter with national and regional compliance certifications as well as fire-suppression certifications in over 50 countries and regions world-wide. We've done earthquakeand EMI testing. It's not clear that the competitors have done any but the most basic of testing. Ours is the only solution that can be loaded in a standard 747 cargo plane and flown to it's destination, which we've done many times already.
While we cannot reveal all of our customers, we certainly have customers - and more than one. You can see a few of our customer stories here. Going forward, I will try to elaborate further on our customer success stories in this blog.
So, what's the bottom line? It's a tough, new market. We believe a more diversified approach that we've taken with the Sun Modular Datacenter will yield better results in the long run.