Wednesday Mar 28, 2007

Minneapolis, home of The Replacements and Prince!

If you are reading this on your laptop on the Nicollet Mall in Downtown Minneapolis, you probably have time to catch a glimpse of the Project Blackbox Tour at the University of St. Thomas on Lasalle Avenue. This includes all of you at the Tower or the City Center where I used to hang out.

The Project Blackbox Tour is in the middle of a 2 day event at the University of St. Thomas, here is the on the ground info from Chris! After today it is off to Rochester, MINNESOTA.

Nine of us arrived at the event site at 6:15am to begin the set up for an exciting day in Minneapolis. We were able to schedule the Blackbox Tour and the 'On the Road Executive Briefing Center (more about this later). The event was held at the University of St. Thomas. St. Thomas holds the distinction of being the only Business school that is designated as a Sun Center of Excellence.

Scott McNealy photo hangs on the wall of fame of Who's Who.

The day began with another 'Partners in Profit Session'.

While our Bob S. was addressing these strategic Partners, in the auditorium down the hall Brian W. presented to six companies with multiple attendees from each company.

Part of the On the Road EBC agenda was a private tour of the container. The EBC team (Trevor, Julie and Kate) did a splendid job of getting us executives to come to Minnesota to educate key prospects.

Once again we had a plethora of attendees on the tour.

One group video taped their tour and we learned that Bob S. will be the star of a weblog entry. We'll share the URL as it becomes available. During these sessions, we learned that the tour was featured on the CBS morning show in Milwaukee, and Dave Douglas, Vice President, Eco-Responsibility was interviewed for over 40 minutes by the local Minneapolis newspaper.

Surviving his grueling interview, Dave presented to the Partners, and hosted a CIO round-table. He met with the Dr. Puto, Dean of the Business School, Chuck Carroll (cahunna of the Lakes Region) and Tom Awe (Regional Executive for the Lakes Region).

I had the opportunity to spend time and shadow Dave during his meetings and customer visits. This man is full of passion and one can not help but become enthused about the Blackbox as well as Sun's contribution to the environment. Dave was scheduled to present to all the attendees at 5:45pm and as the time drew near, he was missing. I found him on top of the box and ready to preach and share to the masses. He smiled with relief to learn his presentation was in the 335 person auditorium.

It was the first of 2 days in Minneapolis and the Field Marketing Team received compliments about the turnout (from Sun employees) and the benefits of the presentations (from prospects and customers). What a Team effort! (pic 019).

On to another exciting day in Minneapolis (or as some refer to it Minneapple).

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Tuesday Mar 27, 2007

Milwaukee, as in Free Beer and the Brewers

As an original Wisconsin kid myself with my Pa and Brother being born in Milwaukee (myself in Manitowoc), it's definitely exciting to see the Project Blackbox tour hit territory in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I am SHOCKED...I mean SHOCKED to see there are no cheese heads in any of the pictures from Milwaukee. With Brett Favre back for another year and all, this is THE YEAR for the Pack's return to the Super Bowl.

I have a fresh report from Chris Hawver who is touring along with the semi up until Des Moines, Iowa. Chris is excellent at putting pictures and some personality with each stop, so I will simply cut and paste is report in!

(Oh yeah, if anyone has a 300x400 picture of a random shipping container on the planet, could you drop it to me at paul dot monday at sun dot com? You'll see what I'm up to soon!).

We were in Milwaukee today and the weather was the best we have experienced while in the Midwest Area. Sunny and 77 degrees.

The Tour took place at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee at the School of Business, Lubar Hall.

We conducted a "Partners in Profit" breakfast briefing followed by a tour of the container. Every quarter we bring our partners together to review new products and/or updates to Systems, Software, Storage or Services... thus the name "Partners in Profit". Later in the morning customers and prospects listened to our own Tony Kay speak on Virtualization followed by the tour.

We had two classes tour the Blackbox with their Professors, and the Business School Dean. Interesting that one class was E-Commerce (marketing) and the other class was MIS students.

Every business school student had the pass by the Blackbox to enter the building and could not miss seeing the Blackbox going between classes.

Two additional happenings today: first we had the parents of Dave Douglas (VP of Eco-Responsibility) enjoy touring the Blackbox. Mrs. Douglas commented that she enjoyed seeing what her son had been up to (wondering what Dave didn't share about his youth with his parents). The other happening included my being interviewed by the Milwaukee CBS TV station and the local newspaper.

On to Minneapolis.

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Friday Mar 23, 2007

Chillers, Water, Keeping it Cool

8 racks of computer hardware packed into a shipping container, all calculating and storing data. There is obviously heat being generated. The system in the container uses a combination of components to help keep the equipment cool. I don't get to talk about everything (patent pending, innovation, competitive advantage, yadda yadda yadda). But, people on the tour do get to see a few cool (I am SO sorry I just said that) components I thought I would talk about.

Let's start within the box. Chilled water flows throughout the spaces between the racks in the container. Fans help to blow the cool air across the components (this is, of course, way over simplified).

On both sides of the container, there are locations for hoses to be affixed, one for chilled water coming in, one for warm water going out, as shown in the following picture on one of our test units.

Here is an image of the same input / output on the tour container, for those of you that have not visited yet.

Outside the box, you need a supply of cold water. One extremely efficient way to run the cycle of water (warm to cold to warm, etc...) is through the use of a "chiller". Chillers come in a variety of sizes, the chiller in the picture is a 30 ton chiller with 305 gallon water tank. The chiller on the semi is a 15 ton chiller, no water tank so the pump is always running.

The chiller on the semi is actually underneath the tarp, so there isn't a good picture of the unit.

Russ Rinfret on the project dealt with a few questions from me about chillers. The contained unit is very efficient with the water, you check the water level ever few months. Once connected the entire system is, literally, closed.

Now, we are on the Northern part of our journey (and as I mentioned a few posts ago, we are going even farther North). Folks in Chicago, Detroit, Lansing, Milwaukee, Rochester, Minneapolis...they know what cold is. They are asking how you keep the water from freezing. We are working on a variety of thoughts, the most obvious one is propylene glycol (you know...antifreeze) :-) Get that little funnel out and mix up your 50/50 solution and voila...water doesn't freeze.

Its more complex than this, but it is certainly one solution (again with the puns) that we are looking at. Different environmental conditions and different customers will require different needs. Some environments may build vestibules around the containers to moderate the impact of the extreme weather.

So that, my friends, is a chiller and why we need one.

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Wednesday Mar 21, 2007

Anatomy of a Project Blackbox Tour Stop

Chris Hawver hitched a ride with the Project Blackbox Tour in Columbus, Ohio. He sent a great "on the spot" report to me in the evening yesterday (so the report is about the Tuesday stop in Detroit). The report really takes you through a brief start to finish tour stop. I did a bit of editing to expand acronyms and get the pictures that accompanied the note inline, but that is about it, here is the on the ground report that illustrates the anatomy of a tour stop.

If it's Tuesday, it must be Detroit. The Project Blackbox Tour was in two locations today. The first was at the Southfield [Sun] office and the Sun staff were ready for all 110 registered to arrive at 9:30am.

Before the tour the attendees had the opportunity to listen and learn from our own Bob S.

From the Southfield office we set up at the Palace, home of the Detroit Pistons. The game tonight was with Philly 76'ers and all Piston games for the last 6 years have been sold out.

[Note from Paul, the final score of the game was Detroit Pistons 96, Philly 76'ers 75...I guess having that compute power outside of the arena was helpful!]

Two pictures, one from the Palace, before the game

and one after all 22,000 parked for the game.

Here is part of our smiling crew, ready to give a tour. Lori Roscoe (pictured) is a Regional Marketing Manager and responsible for the visits to Detroit and Lansing.

Next stop is Lansing at Michigan State University. The tours begin at 10am. Next stop after Lansing is Chicago, where over 350 have registered to see the Project Blackbox Tour.

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Tuesday Mar 20, 2007

MICHIGAN and a few notes

I just started receiving pictures from the first of two Michigan stops (note the correct spelling of Michigan ;-) I am faithfully keeping the SmugMug Map up to date if you are interested in seeing the trail and the sites from around the country.

Here is a shot of one of the tours going through the container at the Detroit location. This is an interesting picture for a couple of reasons. As you look down the container's central aisle, note that you do not see the contents of each of the racks. Remember that the racks face lengthwise down the container (end to end) to facilitate cooling. The second reason is a bit less technical...across the country, for Winter weather, the mid-length black jacket, black pants and shiny black shoes is pretty standard throughout the United States.

Just to keep you up to speed with some hard core data from the tour, Chris Hawver sent an update, he is traveling with the project through the Midwest. The Columbus, Ohio stop proved very interesting. Recall that it was on a Thursday and Friday. It turns out that March Madness wreaked some havoc on the Friday tour stop. Basically, Friday afternoon, jammed streets, and bad weather added up to some lower turnout.

The positive side of a lower turnout is that we get to spend much more time with individual customers. As the tour moves on, we are finding that enterprises with company and organization branches located in other tour cities are having folks catch the tour enroute. These multiple city visits end up having tour participants well versed in the question "How would you use the container in your business environment". The conversation then evolves into deeper questions about positioning, availability, etc...

As the tour moves on, we are getting better and better at getting the quintessential snapshot of the truck and landmarks and features around it. Here is a picture of our location in Detroit Michigan.

If you have something in particular that you are interested in hearing about from the container (that isn't confidential), drop me an email and I will try to get coverage for you. Articles on tap include the value of centralized management systems in relation to Project Blackbox as well as another interview with a person on the ground and a touching, in depth piece with the life of a chiller.

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Monday Mar 19, 2007

Indianapolis Today, Schedule Updates

The first batch of Indianapolis pictures arrived this morning, so let's get down to some tour information. First of all, this week finds us in Indianapolis this morning (Monday):
- Tuesday in Detroit
- Wednesday in Lansing Michigan at Michigan State University, home of the Spartans (who I spent many years hearing about from my friend Jim)
- Thursday at Chicago's Navy Pier
- Friday in Schaumburg

For Indianapolis (and the other stops), there is a bit of prep work to be done. Here is the container getting its morning shine:

Here is the semi in Monument Circle. The prominent Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in the picture is dedicated to Indiana's finest that were a part of the American Revolution, the U.S. Civil War, the War of 1812 and the conflicts leading up to it, and the Mexican-American war.

The final Indianapolis picture for the morning is the first aerial shot of the Project Blackbox Tour. I'm not sure if they were bungee jumping or what.

Did you know that the Super Heroes Museum is opening in Indianapolis soon?

Next week the tour moves on to my home states of Wisconsin (the tour will be in Milwaukee specifically...though I was born in Manitowoc) and Minnesota (Rochester's Mayo Clinic and Minneapolis).

The tour itself has been extended to include new dates at the end of April and into May. Generally speaking, the Discover Sun Tour pages are being updated, but I'll try to run down the added list here in case you are not keeping the delta in your head (I may have some that you have already seen):
- April 24th, St. Louis, MO
- April 25th, Conway, AK
- April 26th, Houston, TX
- May 1st, Chicago, IL
- May 8-10, JavaOne in San Francisco
- May 15th - 16th, Toronto
- May 17th, Ottawa
- May 18th, Montreal

A few of these cities do not have their location pinpointed yet, so keep looking at the Discover Sun Tour pages for details and they will pop up when all of the details are set. If you are one of Sun's current customers, I'm sure you will be notified by your account team when we are in town.

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Tested : Big Red Button

We had our first successful test of the BRB (Big Red Button). It happened in Burlington, MA. Apparently, a gentleman on the tour was backed up against the BRB, shown in the picture below, and it was accidentally depressed.

The BRB is attached to the EPO (Emergency Power Off). As planned, the systems and everything in the container shut down. After a little surprise, the systems were successfully restarted and the tours resumed, blinking system lights and all.

Note to Bob Lecoq, System Test: Big Red Button Works, successful testcase.

Note to remaining folks on tour, pressing the big red button...not so good.

Should have some pictures from Indy today!

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Sunday Mar 18, 2007

Biggest, baddest, JavaOne Booth...EVER

May 8th to May 10th, attendees of JavaOne in San Francisco can drop by the pavillion and see the 80 foot long Project Blackbox booth. Picture this on the pavillion floor and you'll have some idea of what I'm talking about.

(the picture is from Columbus, OH)

Registration for JavaOne is still open so if you were waffling on whether or not to attend, perhaps an 80 foot semi parked next to the O'Reilly booth could sway you.

It would be a shame of Dave and Paul the truck drivers crushed the Eclipse Foundation booth when they were driving in. Its a joke, seriously, I love Eclipse.

I am HTML-izing the list of new tour dates that are open to the public, it should be posted tomorrow!

Hope you are having an awesome weekend. Monday March 19th will see the tour in Indianapolis, Indiana, home of them Super Bowl Colts.

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