Monster Machines: Dell's Tactical Data Centre Puts A Server Room In A War Zone

It's not just the bullets that are getting smarter. As the US military pushes for deeper technological integration in its fighting forces, more and more bandwidth and computing power will be needed to keep everything connected. Dell's new self-contained server rooms will turn even the most remote Forward Operating Base into an impromptu data centre.

Dubbed the Tactical Mobile Data centre, this mobile server resides in an ISU-96 shipping container that can be airlifted aboard anything from a CH-47 Chinook Helicopter to a C-130 Hercules, as well as over land or by sea. The standard shipping container also helps camouflage the TMDC among the many other ISU-96s found on a typical military base. The container itself is weatherproof, dustproof and sandproof, and it can store up to 4500kg of electronics. The container includes an integrated ventilation system and environmental monitoring including an automatic fire-suppression system.

Inside each case is 120U of server space in three 42U-15KW capacity server racks with power supplied by either a proper grid, through a generator, or both if necessary. It also has a battery UPS in the event of a major power failure. These connect to an ad hoc military network using either copper, fibre optic or BNC quick-connect links.

"One of the key drivers [behind the development of the Tactical Mobile Data Center] was being able to move it in and out of there quickly," John Fitzgerald, CTO of Dell Federal, told eWEEK. As with most specialised pieces of hardware, the TMDC is not cheap by consumer standards. The IT pack, the actual guts of the system, are priced at $US221,500 — not including server, storage and switching equipment. [Dell - The Register - EWeek - ZDNet - Slashdot - Virtual Strategy]

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