Spotting Trends

When my two teenage kids tell me I haven't updated my blog for a while, it is a clear sign of a trend I need to reverse. Having just finished up my first quarter leading our systems sales organization for the Americas, I've had a chance to see on a daily basis the buying trends of our customers. Of course, I'll have to wait until after we announce our quarterly earnings to talk about last quarters trends in the Americas. But after a quarter of hard work, and it being the kids Spring break, we headed to Hawaii this week for a little R&R.

Before I left, I stopped by a retail outlet of my wireless carrier and purchased a USB wireless data card. I need to read email in so many different airports, hotels, and customer sites that still don't have WiFi access that I decided the investment would be well worth it. This week alone I have easily paid for my first month's service costs with the saving. Hard to say which trend will be more popular in the future, WiFi or Cellular Wireless Data, but it is nice to have a wide variety of choices. More on hotels later.

As for trends, you can tell interesting ones running the backroads of Hawaii. By today's count, RedBull is clearly the drink of choice based on the roadside litter. While not personally a fan of energy drinks, I do like the RedBull brand. What other energy drink sponsors their own Formula 1 racing team?

Of course, I do have to tie this back to computers. RedBull Racing uses a lot of computers to design their racing cars, perfect customer to consider our Sun Constellation System high performance computing solution built around the Sun Blade 6048. Of course, these days, a lot of different customers are buying the Sun Blade 6048 besides HPC users like TACC. We sold several Sun Blade 6048 systems to a customer in the Middle East to run a large retail point of sale system with SunRay ultra-thin clients as the front end. Talk about fast service, how would you like your retail transaction to be processed on a SunRay powered by the same system that runs one of the world's fastest supercomputers. We have also sold Sun Blade 6048 systems to a large organization involved in aircraft design. I guess if you can design jet aircraft on Sun Blade 6048's they should be fast enough to design cars, after all, even slow jets go faster than fast Formula 1 cars. And yes, we have even sold Sun Blade 6048's to other traditional HPC centers including a national HPC research center in Asia and one in Europe.

Back to slower transport, longtime readers of my blog will recognize that if I'm in Hawaii, I must be doing one of my favorite runs. Unfortunately, our favorite hotel the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is closed for renovations following structural damage in the last earthquake. We actually tried a larger, more luxurious hotel nearby. Unfortunately it didn't compare and my wife, ever the good shopper, spotted an add in the local newspaper for a ridiculously low rate for "best available room" at a nearby "thatched hut on the beach" resort and we decided to try it out. I'm writing this from my beachfront thatched hut, about 20 feet from the high tide line, in fact in one of the best rooms (or huts) at the resort. Sometimes you just get lucky. We will make do with the single bathroom. Having just run 10 miles, the rest of my family will ensure I get my turn at the shower before dinner. And yes, my wireless data card works here, and there is no WiFi (or wired Internet) access.

That's it for today's trends. Check back after May 1 for more info on the sales trends we saw in the Americas last quarter, but suffice it to say that we not only sold AMD and Intel based servers, we sold Niagara and Niagara 2 based CMT (Chip Multi-Threading Servers), along with high end SPARC servers like the 64 processor Sun Enterprise M9000 (yes, we still make lots of big SPARC SMP servers that are great for running your SAP or Oracle applications on).

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