Moving clouds: International transportation standards

As a technical starting point of this research Patrick Keller already wrote two posts on hardware standards and measures: The Rack Unit and the EIC /ECIA Standards (other articles including technical overview are the 19 Inch Rack & Rack Mount Cases). Within the same intent of understanding the technical standards and limitations that shape the topologies of data centers we decided to investigate how the racks can be packed, shipped, and gain mobility. The standards for server transportation safety are set by the Rack Transport Stability Team (RTST) guidelines. Of course, custom built server packaging exists based on the international standards. We’ll start by listing them from the smallest to the biggest dimensions. First off, the pallet is the smallest measure. Once installed on pallets, the racks can be disposed in standard 20′ or 40′ shipping containers. The image below depicts different ways of arranging the pallets within the container:

Sizes for shipping euro and standard pallets

the pallets fit one server rack each. The diagrams below show the specs for both types of shipping containers.

20''-STANDARD-container_-internal-and-external-dimensions 40''-STANDARD-container_-internal-and-external-dimensions

However it is also possible to ship server racks via air freight, which in this case uses ULD Containers (Unit Load Device). ULD’s however come in many different sizes. For the complete list of ULD standards click here.

Air cargo ULD containers: LD-29 Reefer dimensions

Once on land, shipping containers are either trucked or shipped through rail to destination. Again, several standards of wagons exist depending on weight and / or capacity. A general overview can be consulted here.

It also appears Dell has been working on what it calls the Tactical Mobile Data Center, A low-energy consumption autonomous data center designed for air freight transport to military areas and quick deployment.

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