Mobile computing at its finest

Christchurch firm Computer Concepts puts the servers in a 20-foot shipping container

Faced with the need to build a new air-conditioned server room to offer disaster recovery services for its clients, Christchurch firm Computer Concepts decided the most economical approach with the fewest regulatory hurdles was to put the servers in a 20-foot shipping container that happened to be sitting on its warehouse premises.

Building it inside the container was a way of making the server room “self contained”, secure and insulated, without the need to make modifications to the building, says datacentre manager Malcolm Fraser.

Computer Concepts had considered building the server room as a mezzanine level within the high-stud building, but the cost and council regulations made this impractical. To compensate for the floor area added to the workspace, the company would have had to add gardens outside the building, Fraser says.

The container is equipped with standard 19-inch racks for expansion of the computer equipment, duplicated power-supply and data networking (including internet access) and air-conditioning, the equipment for which is mounted on the container’s roof.

It houses servers running database and ERP systems and email and file servers, as well as disaster-recovery facilities for such clients as Redeal, part of the global Rexel Group, the world’s largest distributor of electrical and data communications products.

MG Marketing, a flower auctioneer and national produce wholesaler, uses Computer Concepts for front-line ERP, on SCO OpenServer machines, as well as file and print servers, email and administration.

Blade servers are contemplated in the future to save more space in the container. The 6.1 by 2.4m-square space is still ample for movement around the equipment and the air-conditioning units provide enough power to remove the heat generated, Fraser says.

“If we outgrow the space or suffer a natural disaster, we can move our server room easily to the new premises”.

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