Thursday Mar 17, 2011

Virtual Hardware

Kemer's HandtruckI am only accidentally a "hardware person." I joined Sun in the late 80s because of my software background; hardware was essentially forced on me. I was excited because Sun was such a leader in UNIX development and applications. For those who have been around, do you remember those Catalyst Catalog "doorstops" we used to hand out to customers?

Software needs hardware to run on and over the years I developed an uneasy truce with it. Back then we spent a lot of time rolling around gigantic desk-side boxes and enormous monitors for demonstrations. The "missing hand truck" was such a common issue that I went across the street to Sears and got the biggest, baddest one I could find and put my name on it; it still does service in my garage. We used to carry around a specialty combo hex wrench and screw driver to install MultiBus boards. Now, that definitely dates me.

Here's an amusing anecdote: the San Diego sales office often acquired demo machines when the corporate suits were just too lazy to ship them back after a trade show. The guilty are now long gone, and I think the statute of limitations is up, anyway. If you think that is bad, I remember one field systems engineer who would wander around the corporate buildings slapping shipping labels addressed to his office on boxes of new equipment. Apparently, that ploy sometimes worked.

So, being a closet software person, I think the ideal solution to schlepping hardware around would be to have virtual hardware: an interactive, 3D model. Oh, wait: that exists! You will find on many of our OTN hardware pages a 3D Demo section. As one example, take a look at the SPARC Server page: we currently have five models there, including one for the large SPARC Enterprise M9000. These are much, much more than the 3D product views you see on consumer product pages. For example, in the M9000 model, click on Features and select the PCIe to see the extraction of a PCIe card and close look at the module. There are hours of entertainment and education in this virtual hardware: my kind of hardware!

- Kemer

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Kemer Thomson
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