Micro Data Centers – Independence Day for AOL?

Even as I learn to become a modern technologist, the field of computer science is changing constantly. I don’t even know what a modern technologist is, but it is a good enough word because in some ways I am already an archaic technologist (goodbye aerospace!). Since I want to keep eating and stay comfortably sheltered and clothed until I die I have to modernize. To me that means skill acquisition in computer science; skills which I will hybridize with systems engineering (the still useful, repurpose-able part of what I used to do). Still, things change fast.

No sooner than I got comfortable with the idea of the cloud as a new paradigm enabled by vast power-hungry data centers, did I just learn today that AOL is turning that concept on its head as well.

As described in his own blog post AOL’s Michael Manos relates that when he got to the company he initiated a deep review of all aspect of operations. I found his comments on what that review entailed to be very interesting in and of themselves. Basically the review sounded to me like an old-shcool systems engineering analysis of their operation. The result was a Technology Roadmap that contained three components. The first component dealt with internal efficiencies, the second, technical challenges, and the third was an aggressive wish list of game changing technical goals. That third group was referred to as “‘Nibiru’ after a mythical planet that s said to cross our solar system that wreaks havoc and brings about great change.”

Their primary Nibiru goal was to develop a data center environment that did not need a building. Their driving requirements for this was minimal physical touch. This would give them great flexibility in how they will deliver ther products and services. Their result was the Micro Data Center. Attributes of this product include:

  • new technology suite
  • deploy-ability to “anywhere in the world with minimal to no staffing”
  • extremely dense compute capacity (for longest possible use once deployed)
  • deploy-ability anywhere, regardless of temperature and humidity conditions
  • ability to support/maintain/administer, remotely
  • fits within power envelope of any ‘normal building’
  • interoperability within the AOL cloud environment and capabilities

AOL claims to have accomplished all of this and declared Independence Day on July 4th 2012, having successfully tested this in the field near Dulles airport in Virginia.

Bottom line for AOL and why this is such a game changer for them is that they can “have an incredible geo-distributed capacity at very low cost point in terms of upfront capital and ongoing operational expense.”

Manos’s post contains much more information about advantages and future implications for this breakthrough. As for me it is interesting to watch changes develop in the field even as I am learning it at a fast rate myself.

Independence Day, indeed; for both AOL and me!

not a micro data center

Not a Micro Data Center – just old Towers in my Garage!


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