In February of 2009 I had a very unique event happen. It was by far, one of the geekiest things I had ever done. I was still working at Sun and we had rebuilt the Data Center POD concepts into Second Life. We had created a Data Center Island that allowed anyone to walk into this virtual world and watch how the data center can be transformed from traditional power and cooling to the new modular, highly efficient configuration with PODs. They could also interact with the PODs to see how hardware fit and things could move around. A virtual-physical data center. That was geeky enough, but try this on for size. Greg Papadopolous (Sun's CTO & controller of over $2B in R&D funds) joined me for a live webecast directly from Second Life to Industry Analysts. They had created avatars for both of us that made us look much younger, more dignified (and skinnier) than we really were.
Greg and I stepping through the demonstration from traditional data center designs to dense, highly efficient, modular designs. It was a really fun to physically watch our virtual selves walking and flying through the data center. It was also really cool to sit down with Greg again and show him the details, in a real-time virtual world, of how we innovated in the data center. Greg and I had recorded a segment on his show, Innovation Matters in May of 2008.
As I reflect back on this event, I remember how impressed I was with the detail of the virtual world. We had hired one of the best virtual world content creation companies in the industry (from my perspective) to recreate the PODs we had been building in the Sun Data Centers all over the world. The project was led by Kim Smith and John Jainschigg from World2Worlds. The visuals they created were really impressive. It was even cooler to find out that the model was hitting on the ceiling of what the Second Life engine could handle. They had over 15,000 elements that were being displayed and manipulated in this model at any given second. Imagine that you could zoom, move rotate and basically manipulate these components however you wanted. We ended up having to cut down some of the detail because the Second Life engine just couldn't keep up with the rendering of the environment.
Another very interesting progression I witnessed was the creation of my avatar. Kim was in charge of this and only had a picture of me from the web (we had only met and interacted through second life and con-call). Check out the pictures below that show the first avatar and my final shown with Greg above. At one point I looked like Brad Pitt (thank you Kim) and another I was clean cut straight out of the 50s. I did quite like the Armani suit that she put on me a one point. I had joked about it in a review and she actually bought one for me!
I thought this whole experience was really cool and wanted to share it on my blog. Better late than never. I also wanted to give a shout out to Mary Smaragdis, the Sun Marketing Guru who came up with this idea and made it happen (now at Yahoo!). You can see the full replay of the webcast embedded below or you can follow the link directly to the Sun website.