How a great NOC team is just like a great F1 Team.

September 25, 2009

Those of you who follow auto sports understand that it’s not just a sport of physical endurance and skill. Those two traits are definitely part of it but a large part of a team’s performance in a race also comes down to the tools and devices the team interacts with to achieve their results. If the driver is as strong as an ox, skillful and able to endure 12hrs of in the seat driving it still won’t guarantee him the race unless his car and crew are up to the task and able to perform at that same level. Likewise if the driver is not up to task but the car and team are you will have a similar inability to achieve. This sets auto sports aside from many of the other team sports we have come to love over time like football, baseball, soccer, etc. These sports all involve teammates however their reliance on tools and other devices to achieve their results is much less than in racing. Because of this it is incredibly important that all members of a Formula One team, from the car designers to the pit crew and driver, be performing at 100% at all times. This is not entirely unlike how a great operations team works in a datacenter. All members of that team must be able to fulfill their role to the best of their ability and then some. An ops team that has the best hardware and tools along with the best technicians and knowledge is an unstoppable force comparable to the Ferrari’s and Brawn GP’s of F1.

A driver can only do so much with the equipment they are handed on race day. If Sebastian Vettel is given a car with a bad engine for example it makes his job much more difficult, if not impossible, to succeed. The same goes with datacenter equipment. That is why SoftLayer prides itself on using high quality components from high quality manufactures for all networking and server applications. Of course being the best requires more than just high end equipment and tools. It requires people of an equal caliber. That is why SoftLayer goes above and beyond to ensure that their staff is well informed, capable and happy. This creates an environment where people not only want to personally succeed but also want to share in the successes and failures that the company experiences, much like any well developed team would. This also creates a feeling of investment by those who are on the team which in turn pushes each member to do their absolute best at all times. SoftLayer’s involvement in recent large media events was a huge undertaking that the company turned in to successful ventures. Just like how Ferrari is always pushing for the win and to be the best, so is SoftLayer.

Innovation is another competitive trait that you see often in F1. BrawnGP and RedBull Racing (both relatively fledgling teams in Formula 1) took an alternate interpretation of the design guidelines this season which, after much ado, was found to be a perfectly legal interpretation that many of the other teams didn’t see or use. These innovations helped BrawnGP, a new comer to the sport (technically they are the defunct Honda team but that is for a different discussion), lead the championship standings this season and has handed them a number of victories. Here again the kinds of innovation you see in the top tier or racing you also see with SoftLayer. No, we didn’t add wings to our servers but our network within a network topography and CloudLayer services are great examples of how SoftLayer is taking the old rule book and innovating new ideas, products and services utilizing a different yet valid interpretation. The success yielded from these experiences continues to motivate the SoftLayer team and is proof that following to the beat of a new drum can, in many aspects of business and sport, be a good idea.

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