Our beloved GigaOm ponders on pizza box servers and their possible replacement by Big IronTM in a new article.

After perusing the article and comments I thought it was worth weighing in. So called pizza box servers (1U or 2U form factor systems) are definitely the king in any datacenter that I visit. But the likelihood of them being displaced by Big Iron or even blade servers is unlikely.

It’s simply a matter of economics. Both Big Iron and blade technology require significantly larger engineering resources, while pizza boxes are commodity systems. The issues around power consumption are a red herring. Customer desire for commodity systems will continue to drive low power tech like AMD’s HE processors and Sun’s Niagara systems into the pizza box form factor.

As far as utilization, we’re well on the road to a world where virtualization technology drives utilization efficiency. Virtualization of compute (CPU+RAM), storage, and network combined with cheap commodity hardware will not only drive efficiencies in this regard, but increase flexibility and change the way that we create, deploy, and run operational infrastructure. Big Iron has no place in such a world. Blade systems have a place, but ultimately make more sense for larger well-established players, not your average datacenter customer.

In my mind the future holds ever more power and cooling efficient pizza boxes, possibly pre-fabricated into larger containers (literally). Given Moore’s Law, the push towards progressively more cores, and coming ubiquity of virtualization technology it makes more sense to have cheaper, easily replaceable, easily recyclable servers than those with excessive engineering and cost associated with them.

This is a world of pre-fabricated, efficient, recyclable physical infrastructure wrapped with virtualization and driven by sophisticated automation tools.