AWS puts datacenter in shipping container for the Pentagon

Ditch the special forces helicopter – it's easier to ship it in an actual ship

AWS is pitching a Modular Data Center (MDC) at the US government, with the aim of making it easier to deploy makeshift bitbarns managed by AWS in remote locations.

Amazon's cloudy business says that AWS MDC is available as a self-contained modular datacenter unit for US Department of Defense (DoD) agencies, which can scale by deploying additional units. Each one is housed inside a ruggedized shipping container for freight transportation via ship, rail or truck, or even air transport using military cargo aircraft.

Each MDC unit is an environmentally controlled physical enclosure that can host racks of AWS Outposts or AWS Snow Family devices. Outposts is a portfolio of managed infrastructure that enables AWS services to be run at a customer's site, or elsewhere in this case. The AWS Snow Family are appliances designed to move petabytes of data to and from AWS, or to process data at the edge.

The reason for developing these modular server farms is because the US military relies on modern applications that are data-intensive and depend on low latency to enable critical communications and coordination in the field, says AWS.

Having the ability to share and access data at a specific location is increasingly essential to mission success, the company claims, whether that is a military operation, crisis response effort, or coordinating transportation of critical supplies and troops.

Modular datacenters have been around for several years, as a way of quickly standing up IT infrastructure, and using a standardized shipping container has also been seen before - Schneider Electric introduced an overhauled portfolio for customers in the middle of last year.

The AWS MDC provides DoD users with the ability to deploy compute and storage infrastructure to support even large-scale workloads wherever required, including in Disconnected, Disrupted, Intermittent, or Limited (DDIL) environments, the company said.

Each unit is a self-contained system, and only needs to be connected to power once deployed on site, and a network connection if AWS Outposts is employed. Customers have the option to use satellite communications for network connectivity.

"With AWS Modular Data Center, we are converting datacenters from fixed infrastructure that is difficult to build and manage in remote environments, to a comprehensive service that is simple to use, secure, cost-effective, and can respond to large-scale compute and storage needs wherever the mission demands," said Amazon's director of Defense business at AWS, Liz Martin in a statement.

The MDC is available to US government customers who are eligible for the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability contract, AWS says. The service is currently supported in the AWS GovCloud (US-West) Region and AWS GovCloud (US-East) Region. ®

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