Are there any service or support issues with containerized data centers? What are the human factors to consider?
All machines require maintenance and periodic repair, but containerized data center maintenance has some unique issues due to its design and other factors.
Containerized data centers are renowned for their overall engineering prowess and energy efficiency, but fitting a large amount of computing (and sometimes cooling) equipment into the confined spaces of a shipping container can produce an internal environment that is difficult for people to work inside of -- even for service tasks.
Consider noise levels, temperature and humidity levels, physical space to move and work, lighting (and even adequate fresh air) when evaluating containerized data centers. For example, a tight, dark metal enclosure may pose no problem for an army of rack-mounted, water-cooled servers, but it may be a hazardous environment to people that might need to spend hours in possibly dark, cramped, dangerously hot spaces within the container.
Don't just consider how the extra computing space might benefit the business. Think about what it might take for IT staff to work in and around the container. This might not amount to much time for a single container, but can add up quickly when deploying multiple containers.
This was first published in April 2013