I was catching up on some Monday morning reading and saw some covereage for a new low power server from SeaMicro and was left scratching my head.
I am not a server guy. I am a data center guy and I try to pay attention to systems and how they are designed and work together. I always find myself asking 'so what?' when I see a new product or service because at the end of the day I really don't give a sh*t how cool/new/groundbreaking something is, I want to to know why it's better than what I have, so I always ask - so what?
From a single tenant data center operator I can see that this is interesting. Lower cost to do more computing = good. For the multi tenant data center I don't see the good. Here's why:
Equinix sells a lot of cabinets. 4.8 Kw cabinets. So if you buy these SeaMicro servers that pack a full cabinet worth of compute into a 1/2 cabinet, you just made me double the density for 1/2 the space. Not Good. Why?
Because a data center operator needs to get power provisioned from a power company. To do this load letters are filed which is a formal request for more power to a site. Let's say that the load letter is for 13 megawatts in a 100,000 square foot building. The building consists of 10 computer rooms each with 1.2 megawatts. That 1.2 megawatts is designed for 4.8 Kw/rack, not 8Kw as the SeaMicro SM10000 are.
So now my electrical load can only support 5,000 feet of computer room space fully loaded leaving me (or the customer) paying for the other 5000 feet or stranding it, or waiting for more power assuming its available. It breaks the model and isn't as attractive as something that fits in my business model like a 4.8 Kw rack.
These are like containers. Containers break the model of a traditional data center in that for a ~600 sq. ft. footprint, they can consume 500Kw/half a megawatt. So instead of a 5,000 ft room, you have a very dense 600 sq ft box and a lot of extra space. That is good if you like paintball and want to set up a paintball field inside for when you are provisioning servers, but for a business, it's a tough sell.
And as a result,Seamicro may never get to the part of the pitch about lower operational costs.