Monday Oct 01, 2007

Singapore Registration Information - America's Tour Update

For those of you in the Singapore region, you can find the registration page for the Singapore event at the Sun Singapore Home Page. The registration will be for October 3rd.

The America's leg of the Innovation Tour has a new set of dates as well. Many of these dates are at conferences or for a specific customer segment at a location. The dates are not available on the tour page yet, but keep an eye on the America's Registration Page. Also, as you scan the dates, notice that the tour spans locations from Canada all the way to Brazil. One of the major Canadian hotbeds of innovation finally has its own event, Calgary.

The America's dates are:

  • October 7th to 10th - Las Vegas, NV - Sun's Customer Engineering Conference (CEC)
  • October 16th to 17th - Colorado Springs, CO
  • October 21st to 24th - San Antonio, TX - GEOINT 2007 Conference
  • November 1st to 2nd - Calgary, Canada (Location TBD)
  • November 10th to 15th - Reno, NV - International Conference for High Performance Computing (SC07)
  • November 20th to 21st - Vancouver, Canada
  • Week of December 3rd - Mexico City, Mexico
  • Week of February 18th - Sao Paulo, Brazil

As these tour dates get closer, the times and locations will get better defined.

Friday Sep 28, 2007

Singapore - October 1st

The Project Blackbox Tour landed in the Asia-Pacific region and will be ready for business on October 1st in Singapore. Yes, are saying...but you've been quiet for over a month, why should we listen to you Mr. Monday? Well, I will offer up a few details for you:

  • Monday, October 1st: Singapore at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre
  • Tuesday...same location
  • ...well, same location all the way to Friday to be honest

This is the same unit that was on display throughout Europe, Russia, etc...

The complete Asia-Pacific tour schedule looks like:

  • Oct 2-4: Singapore
  • Oct 22-24: Beijing
  • Nov 12-14: Tokyo
  • Nov 21-23: Seoul
  • Dec 18-20: Sydney

Our customers in the region should have schedules and invitations. I did notice that the schedule is not up on our site, so let me know if you are missing your invite and I'll forward your information on to the "folks in the know".

I'm sending out some notes now to gather pictures from the region. If you attend one of the events, let me know or send pictures my way and I will get them posted! My email is paul dot monday at sun dot com!

Friday Aug 10, 2007

One more stop in England then ASIA-bound!

The Project Blackbox Tour is now out of Moscow (report is being put together now) and on its way back to England, stopping at the ExCel London (a beautiful conference center) in Royal Victory Dock on August 21st. After the show we pack up the container and its off to...APAC, the Asia-Pacific region.

The schedule looks like this:

  • October 2-4: Singapore
  • Oct 22-24: Beijing
  • Nov 12-14: Tokyo
  • Nov 21-23: Seoul
  • Dec 18-20: Sydney

Its interesting when you look at the dates above how far apart the stops are spread. On the European leg of the tour we were doing a couple of countries a week, now things have to spread way out to facilitate the distances that are in the APAC region.

I put together this fine map to help illustrate what's going on here:

Well, I'm sure that isn't quite the level of detail you expected from this fine blog so I'll get more details of the travel routes as the dates get nearer ;-) I have to assume there is a boat involved like the one that originally brought us to England.

It does look like we'll have another test of SmugMug (who uses Yahoo! to reverse geocode addresses) and Google map content. I have been pleasantly surprised entering addresses into the SmugMug address field and having them return valid geo-coordinates and excellent Google Maps, I haven't been let down once. Yahoo! and Google both must be doing their work to get content from Europe. Will it be the case in the APAC region as well? We shall see!

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Wednesday Aug 08, 2007

Wrap-up from Germany

This is, perhaps, one of my favorite pictures from the entire trip (and there are hundreds of very, very good pictures if you go through the various galleries). I think this picture pretty much sums it up:

Now, you can choose from one of the following two of what this actually "sums up":

  • Sun's commitment to lowering costs (which we have been obviously very successful at) by having employees rent the super-economy rentals at Avis
  • Sun's commitment to helping improve the world with eco-opportunities like Project Blackbox which represents a substantial opportunity for power and cost savings, both at the same time.

The picture itself is from Munich, Germany. The car is known as the "Eco Rider", here is a Blog link, and another, and a sales site. The Project Blackbox Tour had a very successful pass through Germany between June 20th and June 28th with stops in Dresden, Berlin, Munich, Heimstetten and Stuttgart. I've been to Stuttgart and in Germany a few times and I have to say it is one of the most beautiful and interesting places, so much history.

I went through the reports from Germany (from Robert, Alex and Gabrielle) and the events went exceptionally well. The truck arrived early from Austria (perhaps due to the Autobahn?), so the team was able to squeeze in tours for Sun employees in Munich. The next day, the truck was positioned in front of the IT and Mathematics Department of the University of Technology in Munich. The tour proceeded to the HPC Consortium Meeting in Dresden where Bob Schilmoeller presented Project Blackbox followed by our own Andy B, luminary extraordinairre. For those interested in some Sun trivia, Andy Bechtolsheim holds SunID #1 (numero uno, Mr. 1, the lead off man, oh...sorry). Who owns SunID #3?

The team didn't keep track of the number of students that visited the Project Blackbox, but the estimates for Dresden are around 300! There is something unique and innovative about touring Project Blackbox that makes it a great draw for the student and intellectual crowd.

In Berlin, the Project Blackbox Tour stopped outside the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz, in the middle of Berlin (if you have to know, I own a Nintendo Wii...but would buy a Sony Playstation 3 if it were ... oh ... about $300 less and I could bowl from my living room).

In addition to many of the details covered above, the Germany team sent this fine quote in to cover the stay in Germany:

"Im Rahmen der weltweiten Tour hat die Blackbox auch die Deutschland
Station gemacht. Vom 20. bis zum 28. Juni 2007 konnte das erste
Rechenzentrum im Container in München, Dresden und Berlin besucht
werden. Mehr als 500 Kunden, Interessenten und Neugierige haben die
Blackbox besichtigt und waren beeindruckt, wie viel Leistung auf
kleinstem Raum energiesparend zur Verfügung steht!"

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Tuesday May 01, 2007

Project Blackbox Interview, the Jack of All Trades

Its been a while since I did an "interview" with someone tightly associated with the Project Blackbox team here at Sun Microsystems. The interviews are interesting, IMHO, since little details of the project come out that are often asked about, but don't escalate to the "formal" documentation for the project.

Russ makes his home inside one of our Project Blackbox containers in California (its a joke!).

He is one of the first people I started talking to on the project and remains one of the first people I go to if I need information on a particular detail of Project detail is too small or too big to ask Russ.

Here is the result of the quick Q/A with Russ!

Russ, it seems like you live in a Project Blackbox shipping container in Menlo Park, what do you do on Project Blackbox that keeps you so close to one of our prototype units?

My role on Project Blackbox is Integration Engineering Manager.... that's a fancy way to say jack of all trades. I spend most of my time working with our supply line team, mechanical engineers, and build partners to ensure we will be ready to hit the ground running at RR. This involves spending quite a bit of time inside 20x8x8.5 transportable data centers that we call Project Blackbox.

You've seen all of the generations of the units (there are somewhere around 9 units now with 3 distinct generations), what is the most notable improvement or change between the generations (that is not super top secret...of course)?

Well, without handing down the secret decoder ring or making anyone take an oath of blood..... the biggest changes have really been evolutionary. The first prototypes were really proof-of-concepts - meaning can we really do this. In the second generation we put a lot of thought and engineering into Project Blackbox's subtle enhancements for RoHS, compliance, serviceability, and supportability. As we start to enter our third phase of development all I can say is more enhancements are on the way.

I have a picture of you talking to us in front of a big antennae doing testing. I've, personally, been surprised at how many details go into building a data center in a container (permits, grid configurations, etc...), what is the most interesting "detail" about this project that someone may not be aware of (that is not super top secret...again...of course)?

One of the most interesting facts is that all Project Blackboxes start off as actual live shipping containers from overseas that are re-purposed and turned into Project Blackboxes as part of Sun's ongoing ECO friendly efforts.

You just completed an exercise in connecting a Project Blackbox container in a super secret location to our own network making it, literally, a virtual expansion of our network into a container. I realize that "process" may vary from company to company, but engineering wise, how do I get my 7 or 8 racks of servers connected to my primary network so that my customers think they are talking to the data center?

It's actually much easier than you think. Simply connect Project Blackbox to your chosen network media, configure the internal networking (customer defined), and turn the users loose. Project Blackbox only needs three simple things to function - power, chilled water, and network connectivity. It's plug and play.

What is the most common question you get, and how do you answer it?

Why a 20 foot container and not a 40 or 53 foot? The reason is quite simple, 20 foot container is a better size for a building block approach. They are easier to transport by truck, ship, or even air. In fact, a fully loaded Project Blackbox can be lifted by a helicopter.

Finally, if Sun gave you a Project Blackbox container and the money to fully populate it, what equipment would you put into it (networking gear, CPUs, storage, etc...) and how would you use it?

This has to be a legal use - right ;-). I'd install six SunBlade 8000's and then fill the four remaining racks with X4500 Thumpers. This would provide a very high horsepower config with plenty of disk storage to support my personal computing habits.

Thanks Russ ... and no ... I don't want to know what those "personal computing habits" are :-)

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Friday Apr 06, 2007

Project Blackbox Colorado Details - April 12/13th

The Colorado stops of the Project Blackbox Tour are coming quickly, here are some notes for OpenSolaris fans and FROSUG (Front Range OpenSolaris User Group) members! Note on the Discover Sun Tour Locations page that the April 12th stop is in Littleton (just a few miles from me!) and the April 13th stop is at the Broomfield Sun location.

The Broomfield campus stop will have the added bonus of an OpenSolaris Booth (we love our OpenSolaris). The booth will be located in the Briefing Gallery and the team will be handing out OpenSolaris Starter Kits and Solaris Express, Developer Edition DVDs.

Some of you may ask, "I'm an OpenSolaris Guru, why would I want to go see a Data Center?". Basically, Solaris and OpenSolaris are Data Center Operating Systems (despite my running around with a Gateway laptop loaded with Solaris). While a customer is not boxed into a single configuration, operating system, or even company for their components that they provision into their newly purchased shipping container, Solaris and OpenSolaris should play a vital role if you are anywhere near sane ;-)

Consider one of our world-class Sun Fire X4100 systems loaded Sun's N1 Software as the connection point for the management path of your Solaris servers. Keep in mind Sun's N1 software is in beer. Each of these tools provide a central point of contact to provision and manage the servers within the container. The end-goal of an owner of the container is to open the container doors as little as possible and Solaris and the surrounding services can make this happen.

If you are a member of FROSUG and want to attend, be sure to read your FROSUG alias email reminder for how to register.

See you in Denver!

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Friday Mar 30, 2007

Technology Evangelist Video from Minneapolis

The Technology Evangelist web site posted this video today that follows Bob Schilmoeller, a Sun Global Architect on Project Blackbox, through a tour of Project Blackbox.

It is a great video, highlights include:

  • Shots of the SunSPOTs
  • Video of Bob pulling racks out
  • Some great factoids gathered from the tour
  • Nice shots of the power grid and cabling
  • Illustration of how the air circulates

Nice job Bob!

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Today the Project Blacbox Tour was in Rochester, Minnesota... home of Mayo Clinic, HQ for IBM AS/400 operations and Paul Monday. [Note from Paul: And, yes, I worked on that AS/400 for quite a here's a SHOUT OUT to the crew in Rochester!]

Today was focused on one very special Midwest Area customer. I noticed as we set up the truck the customer had us parked in front of a white container.

At first I thought this was odd, until I realized that every smart company has a Plan A and a Plan B... what I saw was Plan A and Project Blackbox from Sun was Plan B. But as the saying goes leave the experience behind and bring the lessons forward, I discovered the following sign in the Plan A container.

For the short time we were at the customer, we had a most successful event, generating a tremendous amount of interest. During a conversation, I uncovered that the IBM facility was only about a mile away from our tour location.

After we closed the Tour, I commandeered the Blackbox truck and took aim at our competitor. Only Dave and Paul (the professional drivers of the Blacbox truck with over 22 years of experience driving Sun's trade show and other stuff) convinced me not to take out the ... I complied.

We did learn that our Tour in Des Moines was announced and featured in the Des Moines Register newspaper today... on the front page of the Business section. We also learned that Dave Douglas' interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press will be released this Sunday on the front page of the business section. For our 9 city Midwest Area Tour, the Field Marketing Team was able to secure coverage in 3 papers and a CBS TV broadcast.. helps with that quest I wrote about yesterday.

On to the last stop in the Midwest...Iowa... day 16 or will it be day 17.

Chris Hawver

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