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Local Company grabs world attention with new innovation – The Datapod

By Peter Holland - 2 September 2009 15

There is a small company in Canberra called Datapod. They have been making inroads into the ICT market here in Canberra by selling only one brand, APC, which specialises in Power and Cooling solutions for datacentres and all manner of power options for everyone else.

The guys at Datapod had an idea to make a datacentre portable and to reduce the costs in putting one in, without having to change the building or the existing infrastructure.
The result is a datacentre in an ISO shipping container  – including the racks, the power inputs, the water cooling – the only thing missing is the servers. They called it a Datapod. (strangely)

None of which is of interest to most of the readers, I know.

Here is the interesting thing. Datapod designed their innovation here in Canberra, it was put together by Ecowise, and it is now being marketed via APC to the rest of the world. Local company makes good on the International Market.

The press that the Datapod design has received is pretty staggering. Nearly every IT media group has done a story on it, and there is the potential for more companies to start looking closely at Canberra – not as a place to sell their products, but as a technology hub to develop new products and other offerings.

Back in the early 90’s, there were plans to build a PC Assembly plant here, but the dotnet crash put paid to that idea.

I guess that it was going to take a little while for something to come along that would put us on the map again, but I sincerely hope that the Datapod design is a start for a new direction. There are companies like CEA technologies http://www.cea.com.au/, or Seeing Machines http://www.seeingmachines.com/ who provide innovative solutions already – we really don’t focus on our home grown achievements much here at all, and it is really great to see a success story come along.

For the actual images on the Datapod, check out this http://www.itnews.com.au/Gallery/153193,inside-datapods-container-data-centres.aspx/1″>link at itnews.

What’s Your opinion?


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15 Responses to
Local Company grabs world attention with new innovation – The Datapod
peterh 10:09 am 04 Sep 09

Now the rust report has an article on canberra companies – in an interview with the VP of APC australia.

http://www.rustreport.com.au/ – VIP told me section…

peterh 9:19 am 04 Sep 09

fisho,

the reason i mentioned seeing machines and CEA is that they are R&D companies who have managed to succeed despite the roadblocks that the ACT government seems to provide. Seeing machines was started as an ANU incubator company – how many other companies are out there from that program that we don’t know about? R&D has never been a high priority for the ACT governments of the day, there are so many small start up companies that are successful here, and mostly with little or no help from any govt agencies.

Perhaps the government or the opposition need to start formulating plans to encourage business here, not the large companies only, but all potential innovation R&D organisations. At least CSIRO produces some awesome go to market technologies, but i think that the federal Government has a better understanding of the future of R&D, and promotes a far better message that the ACT Government.

Fisho 9:44 pm 03 Sep 09

It’s big, it can’t be retrofitted to a building easily, thermal load and flow has been done to death by every vendor of IT equipment. It’s a standard part of server room design. Good luck slapping one in at short notice without exceeding the floor load rating. Or getting power. Or cooling towers. Never mind the myriad fibre converters available.

Perhaps useful in a disaster scenario as an air portable modular unit. If you have a Herc on standby at the runway.

In a disaster you need a location, power to run the place, cooling and space as well as the equipment. You are better off having a genny in the basement, a well drilled DR plan and some redundant links in place. And a hot site.

While this product has some pretty obvious flaws in a real world situation, its good to see some innovation promoted. There’s a lot of good stuff in Canberra in this area that never gets any airtime. Things like network pattern analysis techniques and tools for security logging (develop a baseline of network traffic under normal load to detect security related anomolies) and CLUG, (with Andrew Tridgell of SAMBA and RSYNC fame – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Tridgell ) as well as many others.

I’m a bit surprised that Canberra institutions haven’t researched and developed items in a number of spaces in the agricultural market such as RFID ear tags for stock control (think bluetooth for cows) given our dimensions, and then there’s our solar industry which basically moved to China as local funding is non existant. Innovation isn’t strongly encouraged or supported. ‘Safe science’ to guarantee repeat funding has been the norm since the 80’s.

There is a lot of untapped, under utilised and under resourced talent in Canberra. This govt and previous ones have severely failed in that arena.

We could take a leaf out of Ireland’s book of the 90’s and encourage growth and overseas investment, spend the same sort of time and money in R&D as we do in the AIS, or we could always just ship more mutton to our colonial overlords.

India is doing a better job and they don’t even have toilets.

peterh 2:41 pm 03 Sep 09

bugmenot said :

Kramer said :

It’s technology, it’s designed in Canberra, and it’s cool – and it’s not from another big IT firm.

Technology – yes.
Designed in Canberra – not really. Maybe partially.
Cool – Meh.
Not another big IT firm – yes, it is actually, APC.

I know the article is relevant to Canberra, but the idea of a data centre in a shipping container has been done many a time before. There’s really nothing new here.

Where I work, we looked at the likelihood of deploying one of these solutions for a disaster and the responses from the various suppliers all indicated massive delays in obtaining them. Essentially, the only units around were demo units and not easily able to be made operational.

We ended up going with alternate solutions due to suppliers not being able to deliver in a reasonable timeframe. Even with a couple of months notice, it was almost certainly not going to meet our deadline.

I assume that whilst it may have been designed (or plagiarised) in Canberra, the manufacture is going to be overseas (or at an unlikely best, interstate), which means that delivery times are still going to be an issue.

If you have that sort of time up your sleeve, why would you not just look at co-location into an existing data centre? There’s two new data centres in Canberra ready for space allocation and another being built shortly, plus the current local co-lo facilities.

bugmenot,
the datapod concept design is different to the sun and ibm units. It has been based solely around the APC infrastructure solutions, but when you buy the pod, it is empty. There are no racks, cooling or power. These are addons through APC.

Up until the launch, the concept was owned by datapod. they may well have sold it to APC, I do know that they are in the process of changing their name, but i don’t work for either of them and don’t know that information.

In regards to the assembly, currently ecowise are doing the fitouts. if the demand outstrips their capacity, which I doubt, it may well end up in another state for assembly.

What happens when a site is required outside of the metro or major regional centres, on a mining site, perhaps, can you shift a conventional datacentre? how long would the pull down and re-build take? what about being able to drive in a container, plug in the generator, fill the tanks of water from the truck (1500L) and fire it up?

the guts of the unit isn’t plagiarised – many of the large firms buy their UPS & Racking solutions from APC already, and re-badge them.

I just thought (naively) that it was interesting to canberra as it was a product that has been taken up by the media big time, and is being presented at APC events all over australia. If it is a concept that has been done before, great. maybe the datapod is a better version.

Cameron 1:26 pm 03 Sep 09

I didn’t think the baseless “why is this on RA” stuff was going to make it through moderation anymore. *shrug*

Might not be original, but not much is these days. Well done Datapod.

bugmenot 1:22 pm 03 Sep 09

Kramer said :

It’s technology, it’s designed in Canberra, and it’s cool – and it’s not from another big IT firm.

Technology – yes.
Designed in Canberra – not really. Maybe partially.
Cool – Meh.
Not another big IT firm – yes, it is actually, APC.

I know the article is relevant to Canberra, but the idea of a data centre in a shipping container has been done many a time before. There’s really nothing new here.

Where I work, we looked at the likelihood of deploying one of these solutions for a disaster and the responses from the various suppliers all indicated massive delays in obtaining them. Essentially, the only units around were demo units and not easily able to be made operational.

We ended up going with alternate solutions due to suppliers not being able to deliver in a reasonable timeframe. Even with a couple of months notice, it was almost certainly not going to meet our deadline.

I assume that whilst it may have been designed (or plagiarised) in Canberra, the manufacture is going to be overseas (or at an unlikely best, interstate), which means that delivery times are still going to be an issue.

If you have that sort of time up your sleeve, why would you not just look at co-location into an existing data centre? There’s two new data centres in Canberra ready for space allocation and another being built shortly, plus the current local co-lo facilities.

RandomGit 1:07 pm 03 Sep 09

Where’s the “Recommend this story” button?

housebound 11:16 am 03 Sep 09

RA is about local news. This is local news. Totally appropriate.

cartdiggidy 9:34 am 03 Sep 09

babyface said :

why is this on the riotact?

Oh yeah and I’d much rather be reading a post about ‘Good Recommendation for Car Door Fixing’. Rivetting stuff.

This is a Canberra success story stop hating.

Anna Key 8:19 am 03 Sep 09

babyface said :

came to the comments to note that this idea is anything but original but i found it had already been done for me. also how is this anything but a blatant shill? why is this on the riotact?

Imagine if Fleming and Florey’s discovery of penicillin was posted on RiotAct? “So what, my fruit bowl is full of mouldy oranges. Yawwwnn”

Or the response to the Wright Bros flight would be a complaint about aircraft noise

Kramer 1:19 am 03 Sep 09

It’s technology, it’s designed in Canberra, and it’s cool – and it’s not from another big IT firm.

babyface 12:34 am 03 Sep 09

came to the comments to note that this idea is anything but original but i found it had already been done for me. also how is this anything but a blatant shill? why is this on the riotact?

peterh 12:08 am 03 Sep 09

Caf, absolutely correct. sun have one, filled with sun equipment, as do IBM, similarly filled with IBM equipment. What about the other brands? would Apple put together a pod design, if a universal solution was at hand? what about dell? the focus for all vendors is that they can add their products to the datapod, without having to worry about compatible racking or power requirements. The datapod solution is really simplified. you buy either a project pod, which is 1 container, or, instead, pod expansion modules, which allow you to increase the capacity of the datacentre purely by bolting another container on.

the containers can be stacked up, creating an expandable datacentre – something that the ctc project might find interesting…

I am involved with datapod – the company, they are one of my clients, and I am absolutely staggered by their solution. I wonder as to whether there are many other companies out there in the canberra community with innovative products that are home grown?

caf 9:41 pm 02 Sep 09

It’s a good idea, but it’s not an original one. Sun Microsystems have had one of these out for a few years now – Archive.org runs on them. IBM also have one, as a kind of reply to Sun. Oh yeah, and Google apparently have a patent on the idea.

OYM 8:28 pm 02 Sep 09

I went to the launch of the Datapod at EPIC. It’s very impressive and it’s great to see a local firm so involved.

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