Innovate or Die

November 8, 2010

Softlayer moved into a new complex (complex sounds better than building) in July. Like everywhere else, the building has its quirks – all part of what help the place feel like home. Those quirks have extended to how we have named the conference rooms throughout the building.

Being relatively new to the place, I take a certain amount of delight in discovering how each room was named. For example, CBNO translates to Challenging But Not Overwhelming, which is a mantra SoftLayer has adopted; Muenster is not named for the cheese, but for the Germanfest in Muenster, Texas that Sam and the SoftLayer BBQ team attend each year; and Jeep has its name due to the wide variety of Jeeps that are found daily in the SoftLayer parking lot. However, I think the most appropriate name has to be Sharkbyte. The reason is simple – Softlayer is an obligate ram breather.

The room features a stuffed shark that is mounted on the wall. The fish in question is a Bull shark, it is 7 feet long and weighed 200 pounds before it was caught off the Florida coast following a momentous struggle with SoftLayer’s CSO, George.

The urban myth goes that all sharks have to keep moving in order to maintain a flow of water over their gills or they risk suffocation. In reality this is true for only about two dozen of the 400 identified shark species. The species include the Great White and the Mako Shark. These species are called obligate ram breathers.

Like the Great White, SoftLayer is an obligate ram breather. The difference is that SoftLayer needs to keep innovating to keep thriving. Without constant innovation, we lose our competitive edge and risk falling back into a pool of ‘me too’ players in the market. The true test of this theory comes when we are faced with extraordinarily challenging times. The work to merge SoftLayer and The Planet is a great example of this. Innovation keeps coming even though everyone has been spending significant time focusing on how to deliver a seamless customer experience from day one. In the past few months we have partnered with Nimsoft to deliver a unique network monitoring solution to the cloud; a new customer driven firmware update tool has been developed and launched; ‘smarter’ signup forms that will have multi server sign up forms (among other things) are available and we have given customers increased network transparency. At Softlayer we simply cannot stop.

CBNO.

-@quigleymar

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