Building a self sustaining automated datacenter

With one of our latest idea, we are thinking about a solution to make a self sustaining automated datacenter.

RuggedPOD is a full outdoor datacenter solution. One RuggedPOD weights around 100kg, which could be pretty heavy to carry and the maintenance harder. How can we do if we have hundreds of POD outside in desert place?

We have been thinking of making a fully automatic system where robots take care of the PODs. We are working on different type of robots (drone, rail system, hoist system, etc). This automated datacenter has to be fully functional, no matter if it rains, snows, if it is windy, hot or cold, and with as little as possible human maintenance.

The project is facing major challenges:

 

    •  Rough weather conditions
    • As little maintenance as possible
    • Easy to plug in/out one POD
    • How to manage the power supply

Prototype

For the moment the prototype on which we are working is a mix of rail system and hoist system. Several circular rails are deployed nearby a main rail system. This main rail system is linked to the maintenance zone in which we can work on PODs. On the circular zone we have our PODs. Between each circular zone and the main rail, we will have a hoist.

When we detect a bug in one POD, the circular zone will rotate until the POD is under the hoist. The hoist will then carry the POD to the main rail system and it will then be brought to the maintenance zone. After the POD is operational, it is then brought back to his place by the same way.

We started to develop a prototype based on Lego Mindstorm and an Arduino. With this prototype we will be able to work on the mechanics between each modules (hoist, rail system, lift the POD, drop it on the rail etc) but it will be harder to simulate connectors for the moment. On the picture you can see rail and train. In red are rails and trains where we put PODs and in grey the main rail/train.

We are now working on a new solution with servo motors. On one servo motor we will have a big circular zone on which we will put PODs (one POD every 30° for example). This plate will rotate according to which POD we need.

Here is a presentation of the project which has been done during the Open Compute Project summit in San Jose in march 2016 :

Goals

Many aspects have to be clearly defined. How will we manage to bring power to all this system being outside, in desert place? How will it work for the connectors (power and network) on the POD when the hoist will plug/unplug it (depending if it arrives or go) on the rail?

Since RuggedPOD deployment will be with renewable energy systems, we can also think about a renewable energy solution for our system. The system has to be as autonomous as possible, that’s why we have to think about every problem which could happen during development.

The project is still under development and we are still brainstorming to find new solutions, so if you want to help and join us, you are more than welcome :)

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