Have you ever seen that latest piece of software or dev tool and thought, “I would love to run that up and play with it, but alas, I have no more beans for hardware.” Or, have you had that problem you needed to solve in the lab, but alas, you have no lab!? Or have you ever stared longingly into the mirror and thought, wow, you look hot!? OK, well maybe that last one is just me, but anyway, I have some exciting news.

A little while back, I hatched an egg called Dev’Garten. Lot’s of people were curious about Dev’Garten, and were wandering if my stockpiling of mass amounts of Intel and Shuttle hardware at WDG’s data centre were in preparation for my retirement to Monacco? It was really to create momentum, and while we did some great things with the Dev’Garten resources (120 people through .NET multi-threading, dual-core clinics, 30+ individual dev briefings at the CITC, two benchmarking case studies), there was more to be done.

So last week, Dev’Garten found it’s new home, and is getting ready for round 2! What will round 2 look like!? Glad you asked.

Together with Sue Bell and Prof. Jack Singh from the La Trobe University Research and Development Park, Dev’Garten will become a crucible of technology infusion, with the support of the leading technology vendors in Australia. Housed in the Tech Park’s offices, Dev’garten will provide an environment where developers can cut their teeth with the latest software and tools from Microsoft on the latest hardware from partners such as Intel and Shuttle. So how will it work?

Dev’Garten is in the process of being fitted out and set-up at the Tech Park. Once it is complete, there will be two ways for the community to utilise it:

  1. During the semester breaks, organisations will be able to engage the services of virtual project teams within the university to complete exploration style projects using Dev’Garten. So for example, if you need to crack a tricky problem, and haven’t got the resources at hand, you will be able to use the v-teams and Dev’Garten to solve those problems at a nominal cost.
  2. When Dev’Garten is not being used for exploratory dev work, it will be available for members of Victoria.NET to use as a virtual dev lab. You simply make a booking for the Dev’Garten for a period no longer than 1 week, and you have access to all the software and hardware available for anything your heart desires. So for example, say you want to run up Team Foundation Server and practice some source control migrations, or install the latest version of SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition x64 on the latest dual-core Intel server to watch the performance blow dry your hair, then this is the place to satisfy your urge (technology wise ya?).

Why are we doing this? Because there is nothing better than moving gears from “what pays the bills” to “what gives me thrills”. If the latest hardware and software is sitting in the playbox, then trying out your ideas gets alot easier. Imagine all the cool new things that might become because the access to technology is readily available.

And how do we make sure the learning doesn’t get lost? The whole Dev’Garten space will be fitted out with capture devices; microphones and cameras will catch all the action, and will be uploaded to the Dev’Garten site for anyone to review…so don’t bring your secret squirrel projects to the sandbox.

Ahh, Chico would be proud! ;)