James Governor's Monkchips

Sun Blackbox: not a “virtualised data center”. How much IT is at sea level?

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Jonathan Schwartz’s Weblog: Introducing Project Blackbox

Blackbox is a great idea, precisely because its so simple. Talking about it like a new frontier in data center virtualisation however, confuses things. What is so cool about Blackbox, a fully working data center packed into a standard shipping container, is that is physical. You can stick it on the back of a truck for a roadshow. It is not about data center abstraction Hal, its about resource portability.

Portable data centers is a more interesting and intutive idea than virtual data centers. Especially given how much ink HP and IBM’s corporate marketing outfits have generated on the data center virtualisation story over the last couple of years.

The world first virtualized data center.” Right. I notice that Jonathan’s blog doesn’t use the v word – i don’t think anyone else at Sun should in this context either.

The story is really far more interesting without the v word. I remember a quote from Mr Schwartz a couple of years back where he described virtualisation as a really difficult concept to understand. Well, really nothing has changed. The confusion is especially whack given that Sun just announced its latest end to end virtualisation story. Sun shouldn’t confuse the two.

Try explaining virtualisation to a CFO or facilties manager. Now try portability.

Blackbox: The World’s First Portable Data Center. Now there is a story anyone can follow.

Not one of the suggested use cases relies on virtualisation. They rely on portability. This is a story about the physical world and its limitations. So please drop the “v” folks.

Apple didn’t launch the iPod/iTunes combo as “the world’s first music virtualisation platform”.

So I think the core Blackbox idea is genius in its simplicity. So why make the marketing complex? Its a real data center. And that is what makes it cool. Portability is always in style. Just ask the bedouins. We’re talking here about the future of movement. In mountainous areas the world isn’t flat. How many sea level data centers are there in the world? Far too many, I should wager, given what’s happening to the poles. Anyone out there with information on data center locations they can mashup with a map and altitudes? I would love to see that map. Paris, London, New York, San Francisco…

Check out this google fight: “data center portability vs data center virtualization“.

“Data center portability” has zero hits. Reporters are calling it a portable data center. the Digg commentary is priceless, and one digger, Michael Halligan, points out there is prior art from APC in 2004.

Carl Howe says: “Assuming Sun delivers on its promise to sell and lease these systems in the second half of 2007, this could easily be one of the most transformational computing products of the decade for business. It changes data centers from a build-it-yourself business to one where they are available off the shelf and on demand. And, like the standardized shipping containers in which they are built, most people will never give them a second thought.”

To succeed though the marketing probably needs to be “simple” too.

disclaimer: Sun is a client. Sorry I didn’t give the feedback before the launch, but I didn’t catch it.

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