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I was wondering if anyone have experience with building server rooms in shipping containers, how viable it is, and what to look out for.

We need more space, but can't build due to restrictions, so we are wondering about placing down some permanent containers to house servers, i know it has been done before, but i was wondering if anyone has any experience with this.

Could help me out a lot in upcoming meetings with building companies!


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Google does this on a large scale, however they do roll their own servers (as far as I know, anyway) and there is a lot of information around - start here to begin with. There is also a YouTube video here. Cooling would likely be your biggest issue, as well as having the room to move servers around. – tombull89 Oct 17 '12 at 10:33
HP also offer a container centre solution for sale and the military have been doing this for a long time. – Dan Oct 17 '12 at 10:38
I know they do it on a datacentre basis where you just swap containers instead of servers, but im talking a bit less datacenter and a bit more "room". – Snowflow Oct 17 '12 at 10:40
@Snowflow The theory and considerations will be almost exactly the same – Dan Oct 17 '12 at 10:45
I realize this, buti was wondering if people had any EXPERIENCE with this, im not going to be able to call up HP and be like sup – Snowflow Oct 17 '12 at 11:30
up vote 8 down vote accepted

To be fair, if it's a static container and you're building it on location, then the challenges are pretty much the same as any other data centre. E.g.

  1. HVAC - Cooling, but also ensuring it doesn't get frosty or damp in the winter. Remember you'll need water for air con.

  2. Power - How will you get sufficient power to the container and what about redundancy and resilience?

  3. Connectivity - As above, how will you connect? Will you risk running a high cable, or pay to dig? Again, redundancy, future proofing etc

  4. Security - How will you physically secure the environment from unauthorised access?

  5. Access - Opposite to the above, will you have sufficient access to get in there and get things done

  6. Weatherproofing - How weatherproof are the containers and what will you need to do to make them truly weatherproof. This depends on your environment, but I know I'd be tense when it was raining heavily. This also means your utility connects all need to be seriously weatherproof and that you have room to open the door without splashing everything!

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