Revisiting the (Learning) Paradigm: Think inside the box!

Sun Microsystems recently unveiled the elegant prototype of a evolutionary virtualized datacenter design named Project Blackbox.  In classic engineering design a blackbox is a small and inconspicuous module that records critical operational information that can be electronically retrieved during routine maintenance of after systems failure.  We’ve all seen footage of the NTSB searching for the elusive blackbox following a catastrophic airline crash. 

Well, Sun’s Project Blackbox is hard to miss.  It’s the size of a regular cargo shipping container but that where the comparison with a traditional blackbox dramatically diverges.  As distinct from its smaller cousin, Sun’s Blackbox is a fully functioning and self-regulating high-end datacenter that is optimized to deliver extreme energy, space, and performance efficiencies. 

According to Sun:  “Designed to address the needs of customers who are running out of space, power and cooling, Project Blackbox gives customers a glimpse into the fast, cost-effective datacenter deployments coming in the near future–where thinking out of the box means putting an IT infrastructure in a box.” 

In comparison to massive brick and mortar corporate datacenters, Sun’s Project Blackbox is easily transported, positioning and powered-up wherever the need for massive computing power is required by companies who do not have the space or funds to build traditional datacenters, or during civil emergencies or national disasters (to name just a few potential applications). 

Conceptually, Sun’s Project Blackbox is a direct challenges to the time-worn adage: Think outside the box!  Well, Sun has now proven that introspection and contrarian thought can revolutionize conventional wisdom on datacenter design and operation in the Participation Age. 

Perhaps Sun’s Project Blackbox can serve as a useful analogy for plug-and-play technology and reusable learning objects used in online course development.  We can now simultaneously think both outside and inside the box to create a whole new paradigm for design and learning.


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