How to Stop Worrying and Love the Network

October 15, 2010

I have recently discussed the network from a couple of perspectives. I have discussed the fact that traffic continues to grow at a furious pace, and the fact that SoftLayer spends a lot of time thinking about and designing our network to keep ahead of this growth. It makes sense to extend the discussion to the customer - what does any of this mean for me?

An increase in traffic means a couple of things. It means that there are more people joining the community - they might be in places that you have not considered yet (like India), but they are there. It is also true that the services and applications that people are using are getting more varied and sophisticated. There is another Facebook or Twitter waiting to happen. It might be in India or China, but it is going to come. Trust me. The business opportunity ahead is immense.

Whether they are consciously doing it or not, customers will work through a decision tree when they are choosing a hosting partner. Key discussions ought to occur that will address what happens in the data center and what happens in the network.

  • In the Data Center - A lot of what happens in the DC is similar across providers. Hosting companies choose from the same hardware vendors, picking from the same basket of processors, memory, storage and security. I am not so sure there is significant differentiation on the hardware side. However, there are significant differentiation points when it comes to implementation. What is the time frame between ordering a service and having the service live? What happens when I need to add another server? What happens when I become the next Twitter?
  • In the Network - I think that network is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. I also think that is gets overlooked. It does not matter how good the DC is managed, or how great your application is, if your customers cannot get access to your stuff, it does not matter how many or whose processors you use or how much RAM you have onboard or what firewalls are in place or what your storage architecture looks like. The only thing that matters is if YOUR customers can use YOUR app. Nothing else, nobody else matters.

We get it - that's why SoftLayer puts terrific effort into architecting our network. It’s why we have 10 carrier partners with 1000 GB of capacity. It’s why our new Dallas facility has bonded 2X1 Gbps links to both our private and public networks. It’s why we are deploying 10 Gbps servers. And its why we are thinking about next year, not just about tomorrow.

We are ready for whatever comes next. The question is: Are you?

-@quigleymar

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