Thursday Oct 25, 2007

Even Super Heroes are Curious about Project Blackbox

Its possible that you have not heard of GEO Man yet. He is quietly acquiring CPU and storage resources in an effort to defend the world from...well, bad stuff I guess. Here is GEO Man appropriately visiting Project Blackbox Tour in San Antonio:

I discussed the topic of super heroes (and villians) in a very early blog. You see, super heroes and super villians have to be careful about building permanent data centers. A super-hero data center should be quicker to deploy than a normal data center and quicker to tear down as well.

Using standard super hero powers, like laser-eyes to carve a flat pad out of a mountain and super cold breath so you don't need a chiller (CPU and storage don't mind if your breath is bad...just that it can take the place of a chiller, I would imagine any of your normal super-villians would have super bad cold breath), a super hero can quickly get their Project Blackbox contained resources up and running to save the world from...well, bad stuff.

Seriously though, the Project Blackbox North America / Canada Tour spent this week in Texas. We were at the GEOINT 2007 Government Conference, thus partially explaining GEO man.

Here is another shot of Project Blackbox behind the sandwich line :-) And, no, the drinks were not kept cold in one of open racks in the tour unit. While the air circulating through the container tends to depend on the settings on the chiller itself, the variance is from 20 degrees Celsius or so up to about 40 degrees Celsius (68 to 104 Farenheit for myself and all of my U.S. friends). This is too warm for most beer (except for maybe Coors).

Next week the U.S. Tour is making the l-o-n-g journey up to our friends to the North, in Calgary A.B. (Alberta) and we'll be open for tours on November 1st.

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Monday Oct 22, 2007

Beijing Tour Local Coverage, Sticker and a Tour Greeting

The folks in Beijing working with the tour continue to feed me great information to forward on to you. First, for some local, in depth coverage of today's Project Blackbox launch in Beijing, go to the 51CTO.com site. 51CTO collaborated with Sun Microsystems to broadcast the launch event live. Appropriately, the entire site is in Chinese.

Next, here is the 3rd in a series of 4 backdrops and stickers from the event:

Here is a tour report (only slightly edited for blog formatting) from Anthony Liao and Paul Li who are with the tour in Beijing:


The Event in Day 1 went through smoothly and successfully with a general session, ribbon cutting ceremony and the press conference in the morning and customer sessions for Huawei, CMCC and CTC and the press interview in the afternoon. Nearly 200 people attended the Day 1 activities with great interests. An Olympic Preparation Committee meeting was held in the same Hotel at the same time. The PBB attracted quite a number of committee members who looked at the PBB with great interest.

We started the general session on Monday, at 9am which is usually bad time (first workday in the week, after China's major countrywide meeting ended the day before in Beijing) and Beijing's traffic at morning rush hour is simply bad. However the room was 80% to 90% full at 9am. Shortly after we started, the room was filled.

The press session was another full house, with 40 publications/media represented. The Q&A session was very active and we had to hold back the questions in order to allow the journalists sufficient time to tour the BB in small groups of 6 people.

"Blackbox项目成功打造了全球第一个移动虚拟化数据中心,提供了极佳的能源、
空间和性能效益,专用于满足空间狭小、动力及冷却耗电已达负荷的用户的需求,
将为客户带来快捷经济的数据中心部署,实现了数据中心的全新革命,使数据中心应用更加普及。
此次在中国巡展引起的广泛反响,证明了Sun Blackbox项目的强大客户利益。” by Paul Li,
Marketing Director, Greater China.

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Saturday Oct 20, 2007

Rolling into Beijing + Sticker Number 2

The Project Blackbox Tour rolled into Beijing this morning (Beijing-time).

The photos here are the best evening photos yet! They were forwarded to me by Peng Wang who is working with the tour in Beijing.

Here is the tour semi parked in front of the hotel:

Here is a wider view with the hotel as the backdrop. Great shot.

This is going to be a great tour stop so be sure you have registered!

Thursday Oct 18, 2007

Beijing Project Blackbox Tour Event Next Week

The Project Blackbox Tour arrives in Beijing China on Monday, October 21st and is open for business October 22nd. I just received a series of stickers and backdrop images from the Beijing stop. They are very cool so I'll post them throughout the week...starting with this one.

We will be parked at the Crowne Plaza Parkview Wuzhou Beijing. To put the location in perspective, it is within walking distance of the 2008 Olympic Games development zone.

Throughout the tours, people have mentioned events like the Olympic Games or even opening a remote data center as ideally suited for Project Blackbox. While the container isn't really "mobile" computing (can you imagine the wireless bandwidth you'd need for a moving convoy of actively running shipping containers full of Sun gear?), the concept is to rack your equipment and install the software at a central location. While you are preparing the equipment and testing the software deployment, you are preparing the target data center location for Project Blackbox installation.

When everything is ready to go, you make sure the equipment is secure within the container, disconnect it, load it up and ship it to the remote site. Once at the remote site you run a battery of tests to make sure nothing was damaged and you are off to the races!

Anyway, the Beijing stop is going to have a variety of events at it including


  • One on one sessions
  • General sessions
  • Press conferences for key journalists

In total, the stop will encompass 3 days, October 22nd to the 24th. For folks in the Beijing area that have not received invitations, you can jot a note to our email alias blackboxtour at sun dot com (of course, replace the at with @ and dot with a .).

To get yourself ready for the Beijing stop (or Texas if you are in the U.S.) you probably need some fresh recommended reading material from me...right? One article that I never posted to the blog (I don't really know why) is the August 2007 Data Center in a Box article from Scientific American. The article is a great balance of considerations for deploying a Project Blackbox container as well as some of the design complexities and decisions that went into the overall design of Project Blackbox.

Finally, I was going to post this next paragraph right in the center of this post, but I decided that even I was not that shameless...still, I did want to mention it since services are an important part of getting this much equipment deployed right the first time:

Insert not-so-subtle-plug for Sun Services... Sun can, of course, help you with site preparation and installation through some of our Service Offerings. Sun's offerings that go along with Project Blackbox span site assessment and prepartion all the way through ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the container and deployed technology. I guess you could call it Sun's Modular Service Offerings :-) End shameless plug for Sun Services.

Have I had too much coffee today or what?

Go Rockies!

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Tuesday Oct 16, 2007

Project Blackbox Tour in Colorado Springs

Here are a few shots of the Project Blackbox Tour at its two-day home in Colorado Springs, CO...home of the Rockies.

Ooops, sorry about that, that was a picture of the Rockies sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks to win the National League title and earn their way to the World Series.

The weather turned quite nice today and its supposed to continue tomorrow (as opposed to the rain you saw at the game on Monday evening). Things will get positively ugly weather-wise this weekend, but Project Blackbox will be out of here and on its way to San Antonio, Texas by the time the storm hits (keep in mind "ugly" is relative since snow in the mountains means its time for snowboarding).

Here is a shot of the cab with our beautiful mountains in the background.

And here is a shot of the container with the tarp away and ready for business.

Go Rockies!

Wednesday Oct 10, 2007

Project Blackbox = Supercomputer #412 + CEC Photo of the Day

Top 500 Supercomputer Sites tracks the top 500 (duh) supercomputer sites across the planet. When you sift down through the list and work your way to number 412 in the June 2007 list you will find...yupp...a Project Blackbox configuration.

This particular configuration contains 1,088 processors, 4,480GB Memory and has a theoretical peak of 5,658 GFlops! This particular installation is built with our own Sun Blade 8000 system line with an Infiniband interconnect, here's the stock photo of one of the Sun Blade 8000 chassis that fits into a Project Blackbox rack:

What is interesting about the ranking on the Top 500 Supercomputer chart is that the Project Blackbox is being treated as a compute node, rather than a bunch of racks of single node equipment. Welcome to the world of the grid.

Remember though, we don't confine you to one of our system types, we have a list of qualified servers and storage that we keep up to date. You aren't even confined to Sun equipment. Project Blackbox is a modular datacenter...how many datacenters are completely homogeneous?

On a separate note, I received this excellent shot from CEC in Las Vegas (you can tell by the CEC backpacks they are wearing). These two attendees are looking into the corridor of the container standing in the inner hatch doors.

Remember, this is a very early unit and if you look at the left outer door you will notice there is no insulation on the doors. Our newer units added insulation here to increase efficiency and our ability to maintain the inner environment.

Keep the pictures coming.

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Tuesday Oct 09, 2007

CEC Attendees! Send snapshots!!!!!!!

The new leg of the U.S. tour kicked off in style at the Customer Engineering Conference (CEC) in Las Vegas. In this snapshot, you can see the Project Blackbox tour unit provides an elegant backdrop to go with the boxed lunches :-)

Also, we received this picture of the connections between the Project Blackbox tour unit and the generator. I promise, I didn't bundle those...you should see the mess of power cords underneath my desk.

Now, here's what I need from the CEC attendees. We know you are there with your digital cameras and camera phones. Could you take a minute and either


  • Send a link to your blog about Project Blackbox with your pictures
  • Send pictures directly to my Sun Account (paul dot monday at sun dot com)

I will get as many posted as I can along with credit! Remember...unique, artistic, mechanical, all score extra points. Feel free to send any technical write-ups or details that would go well with the picture...it doesn't have to be the marketing stuff either...talk about Sun Spots, the machines in the box, what you would do with cabling, your labeling solution, or even give a shout out to your friends from the PBb blog with a picture of yourself!

Monday Oct 08, 2007

Singapore - Asia Pacific Launch is Complete!

The Asia-Pacific leg of the Project Blackbox Tour started off with a bang last week in Singapore, here's a picture to prove it.

At first glance, you may expect to see Michael Jackson with a can of Pepsi or the lead singer of Whitesnake strutting out from between the sparks but, instead, you get a glimpse of our tour unit cabled up and ready for business.

Here is a picture backstage at the event as folks tour the unit:

In total, approximately 600 attendees toured in the three day engagement in Singapore. Most of these events create a balance between private sessions for partners, sessions for press and analysts and more open sessions for those that may have heard the buzz and found the registration button (see previous posts on the blog).

Without a doubt, this looks like one of the hippest and best dressed crowds yet!

Next stop is Beijing for this unit while the U.S. Tour unit is ready to go at CEC in Las Vegas this week!

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