back to article Google nabs patent for Sun's Project Blackbox?

Google now owns a patent for data centers stuffed into shipping containers. You know, data centers like Sun's Project Blackbox. The Mountain View outfit first filed for this "Modular Data Center" patent in December 2003, and today it was rubber stamped by the US Patent Office. The patent describes a data center based on an " …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    How can shoving a few off the shelf parts into an off the shelf (well off the cargo truck) part be counted as innovative... oh that's right.. its the extremely flawed US Patent system....again.

    I'm sure there is prior art - governments around the world must have similar setups to cope with major civil disruption.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Been there, done that

    Shipping docking great wads of computer power around in containers is nothing new. IBM was shipping 43xx series computers around in the backs of trucks to people who needed short-term computer power in the 1980s for definite. Set the lorry up in the car park, a couple of extra wires and away you went. (That it happened to be mostly IBM sites that needed it doesn't matter.)

  3. chris

    Nothing new under the sun......?

    In the mid 80's I worked for an oil service company in Scotland. We would ship a container containing DEC PDP systems and data capturing equipment out to oil platforms around the world where they could be bolted to the deck , connected to a power supply and be self contained data capturing and analysis offices. They could then be relocated as required.

    Plus ca change, la meme chose....

  4. P.Alan Smith

    Digital used to offer this as a service

    Some ten years ago, we had to rebuild the air conditioning in the main machine room (it couldn't cope with the hot summer in 95-96). For a suitable fee, Digital sent a large truck with a container-sized body, filled with VAXes and disk racks, which truck sat in our car park for a month while the work was done. The only downtime was at weekends to do the disk replication. Surely this counts as prior art.

  5. Ian Michael Gumby
    Thumb Down

    Prior art ...

    Disaster recovery companies have done this.

    Demos for tradeshows out of the back of 18 wheelers.

    MRIs for remote hospitals....

    Oh and lest us not forget the US military. ...

    Bad patent. all around

  6. sun rock
    Dead Vulture

    Does anyone care? Has Sun even sold any?

    Has Sun sold any of these "black boxes"? or is this just a patent on a marketing gimic? (Freebies to Stanford do not count)

  7. Simon Greenwood

    Re: Does anyone care? Has Sun even sold any?

    *Google* have taken the patent, and it's on a completely different technology from Blackbox anyway. Blackbox is really only a proof of concept although it's all usable technology. I'd have one in my back yard, if my back yard wasn't the size of a stamp.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sun Blackbox sales

    I understand that Sun has sold numbers of boxes, not in black but in camouflage...

  9. Brian Miller

    Obvious prior art, why the patent?

    Since everybody knows about all the prior art, why is Google bothering to patent it? Does it just want to feed the lawyers some more? Maybe the lawyers are paid per patent filed and defended.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More prior art

    Ericsson did this in the mid-90's with both semis and shipping containers stuffed with switch gear and computer systems (mostly Sun..) Google's a troll.

  11. RRRoamer

    The US Patent office at it's best. Once again...

    Does the Patent office actually REVIEW patents anymore??? Maybe they have forgotten that they are supposed to review the IDEAS expressed in the patents and not just the FORMAT of the patent!


  12. kaz

    I have seen such a thing...

    In Finland at 1997 local HP executives proudly presented me a truck, which contained HP 3000 and HP 9000 series computers. It had cooling and power, etc. This truck was used as backup datacentre solution, which rolled into place when something happened with their service clients.

    This patent is odd...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    US Patent Office Email Address for voicing your concerns!!

    Fellow Vultures,

    Since most of you feel as I do, that the US Patent Office has lost it's frikkin mind,

    please find the following email address for voicing your concerns.

    I have already copied the contents of this comments page and sent it to them with my own comments, and I suggest you all join in to help them to understand the bloody obvious.

    Anyone with pictures of "prior art" mobile data centers should send them immediately.

    Preferably those with some way of identifying the manufacturer of the data center, those camouflage versions would be nice especially if there is a US flag and Army Division number on it somewhere! You can't argue against prior art when there is a military purchase order to back it up!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not original

    I also saw a series in the 80s about a data center mounted in the back of a large truck, that could even accommodate a vehicle equipped with a voice-activated server.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    give me a break!

    How can google patent something that's already a part of the public domain? The US government has been doing that for decades in the military, which is paid for courtesy of the US tax payer, should any revenue gained from Googles "patent" be given back to anybody who pays taxes, as a 'thank you' for the idea?

  16. Tuomo Stauffer
    IT Angle


    I see the comments back to 80's, weird, this was one of our backup plans and tested in 70's, just shows my age, have a nice day, tuomo

  17. John Chadwick

    Lets bring Patents into even more dis-repute.

    Haven't Sungard offered this kind of service for years. Loose your data centre and we'll ship a new one on the back of a truck that you can put in the car park until you rebuild.

    I'm sure they offered this service to me in 2002 when I was doing a DR plan.

    So what does putting it in a container add, ah yes vertical scalability.

    Next you know some one will try and patent putting things in boxes, after all that's all a container is.

  18. tony trolle
    Paris Hilton

    HDD container


    If I leave a hard drive in the cardboard shipping box and use long cable to connect it up would I have a law suit on my hands ?

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