Monday Apr 07, 2008

SunMD Education: Train the Trainer

I ran into the SunMD team (Russ Rinfret, Chuck Perry, Carl Meske) over Sushi the other night. Russ mentioned they were in town doing training on the SunMD units in our Lousville campus and that I should drop by and see what the training is all about.

So, Friday I grabbed my camera and headed over to the campus to see how the training worked. It was a 4 day class where the various teams had hands-on training on every aspect of the SunMD. There were folks from Singapore, Australia, Japan, the United States and India in attendance, all working with live or soon to be live SunMD deployments. All totaled there were about 20 attendees.

The group worked on two SunMD units, one populated with Sun equipment and the other without any equipment in it.

There were also stations positioned around the SunMD units where teams could work in larger spaces on various Field Replaceable Units (FRUs). This particular station was where a team would work on a heat exchanger replacing fans, seeing how the plumbing works and a variety of other tasks that they may be expected to work on in the field (or in the mine as the folks from Japan may be expected to do).

The 4 days were packed with tips from the experts with Russ teaching about the FRUs, Carl teaching about the IMS (Integrated Management Server) and Chuck teaching about the EMS (Environmental Management System)...speaking of which, here is a shot of the EMS and IMS working together to ensure that the environment (heat, humidity, doors, drains, etc...) is correctly monitored. For those of you who think I just blog...yes, I worked for a while with Carl, Roger and Vanessa on the IMS.

Notice the reading on the front, 22.1 degrees Celsius (about 72 degrees Farenheit). When you go into the main corridor of the running unit, it is much warmer since the cool air flows around the SunMD racks and not through the center.

I also spent some time talking to and listening to the students (not as much as I would have hoped, but I'll drop in on the next class as well now that I know the classes will be offered more often as the units get deployed). One of the teams (including Yukio Kitano (Project Manager) and Mitsuaki Ohno (Support Engineer)) was from the Japanese project that is setting up SunMD in an old coal mine in Japan. They are starting with two as a prototype and may grow well beyond that.

The goal for the project is to get up to 30 SunMD units running unattended. The deployment will start with engineers and living quarters in the coal mine, but will migrate towards unattended operation (as it should be).

I stayed for the feedback session, all in all it sounds like a great class. Now I just have to wait for the next class and maybe find an excuse to attend end-to-end. I have to say I'm impressed with the shift of the box from internal project, through a stellar sales and marketing turn and into practical deployments. There are SunMD units going into virtually every corner of the globe (more on that another day).

Thursday Mar 13, 2008

Sun (as in solar) Modular Data Center

I mentioned briefly that the SunMD unit at CeBIT was hooked up to solar-power. Ingo Frobenius, the Sun Engineer involved in the effort, provided me with more details about the solar installation.

The solar array was about 65 square meters providing 10kW of power. The normal generator used with the SunMD truck was replaced with a transformer and the unit was also attached to the power grid for when the solar panels were not producing power (which happened during the first day of snow :-).

Its true that 10kW is not going to power a complete SunMD unit. The average rack has a 12.5kW power supply (though if you fill the rack with 4 Sun Blade 6000s, you will need 25kW power supplies with your rack). But keep in mind, many of our warehouses have far more than 65 square meters of space to put solar panels. Next time you are flying over a warehouse region of a city, just look at all of the rooftops that face up towards the sky, there is more than enough space to power a few fully-equipped SunMDs. In fact, some customers estimated the roof-space of their warehouses at about 1000 square meters (enough power for the SunMD and the chiller).

In Germany (home of CeBIT), solar energy is sponsored by the government in many regions, helping make solar energy a reasonable proposition for powering SunMD.

I have to give a "shout out" to all of the companies that participated in the demonstration (in addition to us, Sun Microsystems, with the SunMD):


  • Ersol - produced the solar cells
  • GES - takes the solar cells and builds the solar panels
  • ALTEC - producing aluminum frames for mounting solar panels
  • Intel - Rockin' Processors in Sun Servers

Go Green!

Ingo, thanks for all of the details!

Tuesday Mar 11, 2008

SunMD, CeBIT, and the Ultimate Eco-Friendly Data Center

Hanover, Germany hosted CeBIT and the 495,000 attendees that made there way through exhibitions and the entire conference.

Continuing the eco-friendly theme of SunMD stops, the CeBIT installation had the power generator on the semi replaced with a transformer that attached to Solar power. Yupp, a Solar-powered SunMD unit!

The first day of CeBIT (March 4th) featured a little snow and time a Breakfast TV segment. The local and national news carried a second spot filmed on Thursday.

Companies from cars (Volkswagon) to planes (Lufthansa) stopped by to see SunMD.

SunSpots continue to be a huge draw to Sun's demonstrations (despite their tiny stature). The coupling of SunMD and SunSpots are definitely a 1-2 punch. Keep in mind the SunSpot developer kits are available and are, of course, open source.

Thursday Feb 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day Austin, TX

We're at the University of Texas today in Austin, TX, home of that great Austin City Limits on PBS and a wonderful music scene from which Shawn Colvin, Charlie Sexton, and many, many other groups have come from.

I need to catch you up on tour dates coming up. Recall we are multi-national at this point. The oversea's tour moves much slower because of all of the borders and water that we have to cross ;-)

Febuary 20-21st we are in Sao Paulo, Brazil and we are in Rio de Janeiro on February 26th. It is "Carnaval" in Brazil so everyone is partying away (from what I hear ;-). Sao Paulo itself is the largest city in South America, the fourth largest by population on our tiny globe, and the center of commerce for Brazil. Surely a place that could use some densely packed CPU and Storage.

March 4-9th we are at CeBIT in Hanover, Germany. CeBIT is a HUGE show. You want to know how huge? In 2007, there were 480,000 attendees (you saw that right).

Here in the U.S., we just came from San Antonio, where Dan the driver is feeding me with a liberal amount of pictures that I faithfully keep in the gallery at SmugMug, you can subscribe to the RSS Feed if you want.

From San Antonio, we moved onto Austin today and Dallas, TX is coming on February 20th.

Thursday Feb 07, 2008

Good Morning AFCEA West Conference

The AFCEA West Conference attendees should be just waking up and having their morning rations before going down for the days activities. So... Good Morning from the Sun MD Blog!

I have a few notes and a load of pictures in the SmugMug Gallery. First of all, attendance has been exceptional. The first day of the conference we exceeded 100 folks on tour, I believe the official number was 112. BUT, we know some of you are sneaking past our bean counters...you know who you are...

Here is the first picture I have of the additional tables we have up around the SunMD Tour as people wait for their timeslot:

What are you seeing on the tables? None other than our Sun Fire x4450 system on the left and a Sun SPARC Enterprise T5120 Server on the right. Note the liberal number of drive bays (2.5" SAS) in the Sun Fire x4450, this makes the same chassis ideal for storage servers, CPU grid servers, or a combination of both.

Something to remember when you look at the Sun MD, we have designed a liberal set of services to accompany the system. Many of these overlap with our non-SunMD services (like Remote Monitoring), some of them are unique to Sun MD (like Site Planning / Leveling). The complete set of services and processes around Sun MD are now on Sun Modular Datacenter Suite of Services web site.

So, if you are AFCEA West today, stop by and have another look:

If you already stopped by to have a look and you snuck past our bean counters...go back and get counted, you give me something to brag about on the blog ;-)

Tuesday Feb 05, 2008

Sun MD Tour Truck vs. Sun Sponsored Race Car

Irvine, CA and San Diego, CA hosted the Sun MD Tour on 1/22 and 1/23 along with its Smokey and the Bandit side-kick, a Sun-sponsored Ford Mustang race car. You'll remember that Smokey and the Bandit had a '77 Pontiac Trans Am...did I ever want that car back in the day. It turns out 7 of them were used during filming and destroyed.

Well, the Sun MD tour is not carrying an illegal shipment of Coors across state lines and, hopefully, Sheriff Buford T. Justice (respects to Jackie Gleason) is not chasing down the driver.

In terms of raw speed, obviously I'd take the race car. In terms of bandwidth, I'm going with the Sun MD S20 on the truck. Using the Sun MD Data Warehouse Solution (containing 63 Sun Fire X4500s), you can house around 3 Petabytes of storage (click through to find other interesting configs):

Driving with my trusty side-kick (the Sun-sponsored Race Car shown above), I can transfer those 3 Petabytes of storage from San Francisco to Boston in about 48 hours. Now, this may take a few corrections from the "community" ;-) But, I believe that gives me 1 3,000,000,000,000,000 bytes / (48 hours \* 60 mins / hour \* 60 secs / min) = 5,787,037,037 17,361,111,111 bytes per second which is about 5.8 17 gigabytes per second. As far as bandwidth goes, not too shabby. You may even be able to squeeze that above 620 gigabytes per second if you throw a couple more Sun Fire x4500s in the back seat of the race car.

You know where to find me if my math is wrong ;-)

NOTE: Yes, I caught the FIRST mistake...I went with 1 petabyte instead of 3, what the Sun MD can hold in terms of Sun Fire X4500 storage.

Friday Feb 01, 2008

Press Rollup for Launch Week

Its been a busy week in the press for the announcement of the Sun Modular Datacenter. The announcement of SunMD mentioned 4 customers that have already deployed SunMD (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in Menlo Park, Calif., Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) in Moscow, Hansen Transmissions' manufacturing facility in India, and Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre (UMCN) in the Netherlands) and are using their SunMD as expanded datacenter space (or, depending on your configuration, you could look at each installation as one huge system full of "Customer Replaceable Units"). Either way you look at it, coming out of the chute with 4 datacenter footprints is not a bad way to launch.

And, of course, most of the press saw it the same way. Here are some articles for your weekend reading (wish I would have had these when I was stuck in the airport last night with no Internet):

Yes, there were plenty more articles, here are the ones I know about in short form:
Sun Finds Takers For Rebranded 'Blackbox', Sun renames, rejiggers Project Blackbox, a modular data center, Sun Blackbox deliverable datacenter now for sale and shipping.

Lots more to blog about today, I have some great pictures of the San Diego stop! We'll see you later!

Tuesday Jan 29, 2008

Order yours today!

Congratulations to Jud Cooley and the entire Sun Modular Data Center team on your launch! Stop by the feature story on the sun.com to learn more.

Some of the highlights of the article include details on the 4 (yes, you read that right) customers that already have them deployed. There are also interesting notes about the tour, like the fact that over 12,000 customers have already seen the Sun Modular Data Center.

Be sure to drop by the formal product page and watch the animation of the systems flying into the box. What you don't see is the Ninja on the left hand side of the frame throwing them.

Don't forget the new leg of the United States Sun MD Tour is already under way, the sign up page is available with the formal list of locations that are being visited.

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