Blackbox is Real

Posted on October 17, 2006

After I learned of Project Blackbox I got excited… real excited. Anyone who has been around Sun in the Bay Area will recognize in the video the building behind it: the Executive Briefing Center on the Menlo Park Campus. I live across the bridge so I kicked my Volvo S70 T5’s turbo into action and flew across the bridge. And I found what I sought….

It is really real. On the net the thing looks like a gag… a complex and complete one, but still a “Is this April?” check is called for. Clearly Sun planned this out ahead of time quite well, there was tons of poster sized pictures around the Briefing Center and even little scale models of it (gotta get me one of those).

Sadly, it is cramped in there and so many customers were being toured through it that I only got to walk around it…. but visable from the door was this:

Force10 Networks… hell ya. Force10 is a company that I’m watching very closely. I’m very interested in deploying these babies for my high speed iSCSI data fabric and seeing several of them (2 32port switches were below this chasis) installed was a very pleasent supprise.

One last look at the hookups…

See? Just disconnect your washer and dryer and place your orders now!

On a more serious side. I’m suprised by the Wall Street reaction. Customers seem to be excited (from the buzz I heard around the demo onsite today) and people are lining up to get a look at it. This is one very serious show of engineering force. Has the idea been thought of before? Yes. But did they dare to do it? No.

I’m reminded of an interview that Mike Judge did with Jay Leno about ‘Beavis & Butthead’, Jay had him do the voices and said “What? I could have done that!” to which Mike quickly snapped “But you didn’t! I did!” A classic line. I’m sure HP and IBM and others will downplay this offering, but it says something powerful about Sun, they aren’t just talking, their doing. Opening Solaris happened, putting a datacenter in a box happened, making the global network the computer happened, and building a platform that ran anywhere for everyone happened.

And so then why, might I ask, did wall street give Sun a slap?. I can venture several guesses, but I don’t like any of them. Whether this product takes off or just becomes a page in the history book, one thing is clear, its a defining moment for the industry and for Sun and one that everyone should be very very proud of.