A while back, I announced we’d start making servers available for free trial – the objective wasn’t to terrify financial analysts, although I’m certain a few gripped their chest, but instead to drive awareness among customers that hadn’t been exposed to Sun. And free seemed like the right price to drive adoption among developers (honestly, we’re not too worried about folks who elect not to buy failing to return a $5,000 server (we cover postage both ways)).
The program started off slowly – partly due to internal disbelief (there’s a long story, there), but secondarily, our focus group feedback suggested no one believed we’d actually send them a free Niagara. So let me reiterate: go to sun.com, fill out the form, we’ll send you the fastest server on earth, absolutely free. If you don’t like it, we’ll send someone to pick it up.
We were also serious about the following: if you write a blog that fairly assesses the machine’s performance (positively or negatively), send us a pointer, we’re likely to let you keep the machine. (And before you ask, the marketing team makes the decision about what qualifies for the promotion, not I – although I know they love drama, charts, and compelling competitive analyses.)
The first reaction most folks have to the performance is, frankly, disbelief. A while back I got into a spat with the technologists that built the machine about whether we could fairly call them 9.6Ghz machines (as a measure of clock frequency of the chip). Paul Murphy has an interesting analysis of whether that’s a fair descriptor (I say interesting because he says we’re underhyping the performance – a first for the industry!).
Here’s a sample benchmark, (and discussion, too). If you look at the SPEC benchmarks (the column titled “Result”), it’s also validated by a neutral body. I’m thinking we should rename Sun to AAA_Sun so our name appears first in the SPEC list.
I had the privilege of making a cameo appearance today at David Berlind’s MashUp Unconference – a fascinating experiment to invite a bunch of people interested in a given topic to a conference, charge them nothing, let them create the agenda on the fly at the conference, and have folks like Sun (and other companies) pick up the tab – an inversion of the traditional conference business model. I got to give a Niagara (without obligation to return) to what was voted the most popular Mashup – podbop.org. Taylor McKnight, the individual who received the machine, looked quite pleased – but asked a legitimate question: “how do I get this on the plane?”
Given that the machine is classified as a munition by the US Government, it was a perfectly legitimate question. It probably wouldn’t make it past airport security (or into an overhead cabin). So yes, we’re covering postage.
Taylor, I’m hoping you’ll write a blog about your experience with the system (once it arrives :)… you are, after all, the target demographic.