February 25, 2015

To Raise Capital You Need a Startup Roadshow

In the world of big finance, before a company IPOs, the CEO along with an investment banker(s) go on a global roadshow to pitch their business to potential investors, including hedge funds, major investment funds, and other portfolio managers. The purpose is simple: Drum up sales of the forthcoming stock issue. In the startup world, there are no big investment banks scheduling meetings. However, there are opportunities to do a roadshow for your startup, which is even more important than the IPO.

There were 275 IPOs in 2014, the largest number since 2000. By contrast, there are around 500,000 new businesses founded in the U.S. each year (not all of which are tech startups), approximately 225,000 angel investors in the U.S., and as of a year ago, there were 874 venture capital firms [read more]. In big finance, a few companies compete for the attention of a small, accessible group of investors. In the startup world, a large number of companies must seek capital from a huge pool of often-hard-to-find, geographically dispersed investors. Because of this, a roadshow is even more important for startups than it is for IPOs.

The SoftLayer Catalyst team works with startups in communities as big as San Francisco’s Silicon Valley to as small as Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The number one thing entrepreneurs outside of the major financing hubs ask about is how to access capital. My response is always the same: Your job isn't to bring more capital to your local community; it's to build a great company. You know where the capital is, so build something worth investing in, and then do a roadshow.

Practice Locally

Thankfully, as the startup world grows & matures, the number of outlets for pitching increases every month. There are opportunities in most cities to stand up and pitch your idea to your peers or investors. Start by getting out in front of your local community as often as possible. In the Boulder/Denver community, there are a few companies that I see pitch all the time, and those companies have fantastic pitches because they are constantly practicing, getting feedback, and refining.

Look for meetups that focus on pitching such as 1 Million Cups and House of Genius, or simply do a search for startup pitch meetup in your city. During startup weeks or similar events, search and sign up for pitch practices and competitions. If your co-working space is like SoftLayer partner Galvanize, they might have a big member pitch competition or a peer-to-peer practice event. Participate in as many local and regional pitch competitions as you can find. As long as the competitions don't take a piece of equity or require a significant payment to participate—either of which should be very carefully evaluated beforehand—sign up, and compete. This constant exposure to your local market will help spread the word about your company, provide feedback on your pitch, and maybe even score some prizes!

For more advice on your pitch, read my previous post, Advice from the Catalyst Team: Pitching Like George Lucas.

Maximizing Your Startup Roadshow

Now that you've refined your pitch and practiced in front of as many local audiences as possible, it's time to start planning your roadshow. Traveling on a limited budget means you must plan a highly focused trip with a specific goal in mind. Maybe you're traveling from New York City to Philadelphia for a competition, or from Portland to San Francisco for an investor meeting; no matter the reason, it's imperative to maximize your trip. A good roadshow involves getting the absolute most out of your travel budget, and this means booking meetings with potential investors or customers.

For example, while attending StartSLC, I visited with a friend from Colorado, Ryan Angilly from Ramen. Angilly traveled to Salt Lake City to participate in the pitch competition, but he made the most out of his trip by filling his calendar with investor meetings throughout the week. Before his trip, he reached out to his contacts in the startup community in Utah and asked for introductions. After following through with the contacts, he met with investors he would have otherwise never met.

Start by either allocating a budget for travel or identifying the most important pitch competitions in your region or industry. Once you have your trip scheduled, immediately start looking for connections within your network. It's far more effective to say, "I'll be in town the 12th to the 14th; what does your schedule look like?" than a non-specific request such as, “When are you available?” Look for connections with ties to your local community as they are more likely to be helpful and make intros on your behalf. And ask around locally about who has ties to your destination. Get your meetings lined up, and get ready for a whirlwind of pitches on your first ever startup roadshow.

I'll leave you with this final point: In 2014, venture capital firms raised nearly $33 billion, a 62 percent increase over 2013 levels. They'll spend the next few years investing that money in startups. The money is out there, and you need to do a roadshow to find it.

-Rich

February 20, 2015

Create and Deliver Marketing or Transactional Emails

The SoftLayer email delivery service is a highly scalable, cloud-based, email relay solution. In partnership with SendGrid, an email as a service provider, SoftLayer customers are able to create and deliver marketing or transactional emails via the customer portal or SendGrid APIs.

The SoftLayer email delivery service isn’t a full corporate email solution. It’s intended as a simplified method for delivering digital marketing (e.g., newsletters and coupons) and transactional content (e.g., order confirmation, shipping notice, and password reset) to customers.

Architecture

Traditionally, email is first sent through an outbound mail server that’s configured and maintained in-house, which is often costly and difficult to maintain.

With the SoftLayer email delivery service, the process is simplified; the only requirement is a connection to the Internet.

Package Comparison

The following table lists the service levels available to SoftLayer customers. The Free and Basic tiers are suitable for smaller applications with lower volume requirements. The Advanced and Enterprise levels are more suitable for larger applications and customers that require enhanced monitoring and other advanced features. Note that marketing emails are only available in the Advanced and Enterprise tiers.

Getting Started

Use the following steps to sign up for the SoftLayer email delivery service.

  1. Log on to the customer portal.
  2. Click Services, Email Delivery.
  3. Click the Order Email Delivery Service link at the top of the page.
  4. Choose your desired package, and fill out the required information. Remember for marketing emails, you must select either the Advanced or Enterprise packages.

Configuring a Marketing Email

Most of your interaction will be through the vendor portal provided by SendGrid. The following steps outline how to compose and deliver a marketing email to a list of subscribers.

  1. From the SoftLayer customer portal, navigate to Services, Email Delivery Service and click Actions, Access Vendor Portal for your desired account.
  2. Once in the SendGrid portal, click the Marketing Email link.

  1. You’ll be taken to the Marketing Email Dashboard. Click the Create a Sender Address button.
  2. Fill in the required information and click Save.
  3. Navigate back to the Marketing Email Dashboard, and click the Create Recipient List button.
  4. Enter a name for the list in the List Name field. Be sure that it’s something meaningful, such as Residential Customers.

  1. You can either Upload a list of contact emails or Add recipients manually. When adding the recipients manually, you’ll be asked verify the addresses that you enter. Click the Save button when done entering addresses.

  1. Navigate back to the Marketing Email Dashboard and click the Create Marketing Email button.
  2. Enter the title of the email in the Marketing Email Title field. Under Pick a Sender Address, select either a list or select recipients for the email. Choose your content type and how to send the email. Split Test my Marketing Email, under Choose how to send your Marketing Email, is an advanced feature that lets you send different recipients different versions of the same email—sending the different versions helps determine which version is most effective.

  1. Select the list of recipients to whom the email is to be sent and click Save.

  1. Next, select the template for the email. Options include Basic, Design, and My Saved Templates.

  1. Enter your email content. Make sure to provide a message subject.
  2. Review your email, and select when you would like it sent—Send Now, based on a Schedule, or Save As Draft. Click Finish when you’re done, or Save & Exit for a draft.

  1. You will then be brought back to the Marketing Email Dashboard where you can monitor the results of your email campaign.

Setting Up a Transactional Email

The following example shows how to integrate your app with SendGrid to send new users a welcome email. This example makes use of the SendGrid template engine, although it’s not required.

  1. From the SendGrid portal, click the Template Engine button.
  2. Click the Create Template button, enter the Template Name, and click Save.

  1. Design and modify your email and click Save when finished.

  1. Your new template should now be Active and ready to be used by the API.
  2. Click the Apps link in the top navigation bar.

  1. Click the Template Engine link on the right side of the screen.

  1. Take note of the ID of the template you just created.

  1. Use the curl utility to test your email via the SendGrid Web API.
  2. Execute the following to send a test email using your new template.


curl -d 'to=&subject="Test
subject"&text="Test Body"&from=&api_user=;api_key=
&x-smtpapi={"filters":{"templates":{"settings":{"enable":1,"template_id":
"6770c11f-97d5-4be9-8811-c86525799ec9"}}}}' https://api.sendgrid.com/api/mail.send.json

For more information on how the SoftLayer email delivery service can help you get back to your core business, check out this blog post.

-Sean

Worldwide Channel Solutions Architect for SoftLayer, an IBM Company

February 19, 2015

Get Ready to Connect with SoftLayer – IBM InterConnect 2015

This year IBM is taking three amazing conferences and merging them into IBM InterConnect. With all the activity going on over the five days, the search for SoftLayer can be a serious undertaking. So spend more time enjoying the conference and less time flipping through your event guide. Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know to keep up with us.

SLayer Sessions at IBM InterConnect

SLayers are leading sessions all over InterConnect. We've cut out all the noise so it’s easy for you to slip our sessions into your conference agenda. What do you need to know? You’ll find it here.

DRD-5144A: Create an Auto-Scaling Server Deployment Using the SoftLayer API, Docker and SaltStack Lab
Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist (+ other speakers)
Monday, February 23 @ 1:00pm — MGM Grand, Room 304
CIS-5363A: SoftLayer 101 Plus: Understanding How to Build and Scale on the World’s Most Powerful IaaS Platform
Marc Jones, CTO
Monday, February 23 @ 2:00pm — Mandalay Bay, Breakers A
CIS-3427A: SoftLayer Storage Services Overview
Michael Fork, Product Manager, Strategy
Monday, February 23 @ 3:00pm — Mandalay Bay Cloud Infrastructure Engagement Center
SoftLayer’s Experts and Edibles Reception
Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist; Chris Gallo, Technology Evangelist; Jack Beech, VP of Business Development; Harold Smith, Director of Sales Engineering; Jerry Gutierrez, Sales Engineer
Monday, February 23 @ 4:30pm — Mandalay Bay Eco D Cafe, Booth 120, Solutions Center
CIS-5372A: Tips, Tricks and Planning for Building an Enterprise-Grade Cloud
Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect
Tuesday, February 24 @ 9:30am — Mandalay Bay, Breakers A
CIT-5983A: Meet the Experts on Hybrid Cloud with IBM Systems and SoftLayer
Michael Fork, Product Manager, Strategy & Frank Degilio, IBM
Tuesday, February 24 @ 5:00pm — Mandalay Bay, Meet the Experts Forum #3
CDP-3464A: SoftLayer Object Storage Deep-Dive
Michael Fork, Product Manager, Strategy & Ann Corrano, IBM
Wednesday, February 25 @ 8:00am — Mandalay Bay, Breakers I
CIS-5375A: Single Serving Servers: An In-Depth Look at Making Your Infrastructure Disposable
Christopher Gallo, Developer Advocate
Wednesday, February 25th @ 9:30am — Mandalay Bay, Breakers A
DRD-3765A: Using the SoftLayer API to Create and Manage Your Cloud Lab
Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist (+ other speakers)
Wednesday, February 25 @ 11:00am — MGM Grand, Room 304
CIS-5379A: Application Development on the Cloud: Picking the Right IaaS Platform
Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist
Wednesday, February 25th @ 2:00pm — Mandalay Bay, Breakers A
CGS-6100A: Day 3 General Session: A New Way Forward
Marc Jones, CTO (+ other speakers)
Wednesday, February 25th @ 3:30pm — Mandalay Bay Ballroom
CIS-5373A: How to Leverage Big Data Solutions on SoftLayer’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service Platform
Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect
Wednesday, February 25th @ 5:30pm — Mandalay Bay, Breakers A

dev@InterConnect

If you’re looking for developer-focused topics within IBM Interconnect, we’ve got you covered. dev@InterConnect is a developer’s two-day dreamland—from a slate of developer-focused sessions to firsthand training, and even a Developer Playground where you’ll get to play with some of the hottest tech toys. As an added bonus, you will find the Server Challenge there too. Try your hand at re-racking the servers and plugging in the cables—fastest time wins a MacBook Air.

In between all of that, make a note to stop at these SLayer sessions:

DEV-6652A: Developing with Softlayer
Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist
Tuesday, February 24 @ 10:00am — MGM Grand, Room 319
DEV-6654A: Bring Agile to Deployments
Christopher Gallo, Developer Advocate
Tuesday, February 24 @ 10:45am — MGM Grand, Room 319
DEV-6653A: Software for the Cloud with the SoftLayer Cloud
Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect
Tuesday, February 24 @ 11:30am — MGM Grand, Room 319

End dev@InterConnect with a bang at the Gaming Bash we are sponsoring with Cloudant. Join us for bites, beverages, and be ready to game. Prizes and swag will be up for grabs; you just have to put your skills to the test.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
05:30 PM - 07:30 PM
MGM Grand, Conference Center Premier Ballroom 312/317

IBM Cloud Experience Zone

If you find yourself with some free time at Mandalay Bay, swing into the Solution EXPO and make a b-line for the IBM Cloud Experience Zone. That’s where you’ll find your resource for all things SoftLayer. If you have questions about SoftLayer, our SLayers will be there to answer them. If you just want to see what we’re all about, we’ll be there running live demos.

Rock @ IBM InterConnect

After a packed conference, we hope you’ll be ready to rock! IBM InterConnect and Rocket are giving attendees a VIP worthy event with a performance from Aerosmith.

Go to the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Wednesday evening to party from 7:45–10:30pm. The event is included for InterConnect and dev@InterConnect attendees. Just don’t forget to bring your badge; it’s your ticket in!

We look forward to seeing you next week in Las Vegas!

-Rachel

February 17, 2015

Asia Startup Series: Putting a Twist in the Job Industry—Power to the Job Seeker

Startups are near and dear to our heart at SoftLayer; just take a look at the Catalyst program. That’s why we are so excited to see the startup scene in Asia growing at a tremendous pace. The fact that venture capitalists are now setting aside funds especially for young technology companies in this part of the world brings to focus the absolute potential of this market. Some of the big funds announced in 2014 include: the Singapore government's $48 million fund distributed among six venture capital firms, Japanese mobile gaming giant GREE Ventures’ new $50 million fund, Softbank and Indosat’s partnership to launch a $50 million fund for Indonesia, and Softbank’s $20 million fund for the Philippines.

*This is Part 3 of the Asia Startup Series. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Before we dive into the Asia startup of the month, let’s discuss how the 2014 Asia Series A saw some of the largest investments to date—startups in China alone racked in US$130 million, and if we go by the frequently released trends, 2015 is set to break all records. The sheer number of investable startups coming out of the region will only open doors for more entrepreneurs. Here’s a look at some of the big winners:

  • Renrendai, a Beijing-based financial services startup received a whopping US$130 million last year
  • aCommerce walked away with US$10.7 million
  • Appier, an artificial intelligence, big-data ad-tech company won a US$6 million series A investment

Check out some interesting infographics on my Startup Trends in Asia Pinterest page, including this infographics shared by TechinAsia and the 2014 high-value investments. Ping me if you have some more we should pin (LinkedIn or Twitter).

Temploy

With so many job search websites, portals, apps, and agencies dedicated to getting the employer the right employee, I found Temploy to be quite uniquely positioned and hence, the focus of this month's startup story.

Temploy, founded by Mark Koh, is a marketplace that automates the anonymous matching of temporary workers to employers while aligning expectations. This translates to a platform that essentially targets not only semi-skilled, low-skilled, blue-collar, and transferrable job positions, but a portal where students searching for summer jobs, individuals searching for part-time placements, or those looking for double income avenues can design the work they want based on parameters of locality, remunerations, schedule, and skills.


Mark Koh, Temploy founder

Basically, the portal connects the job seeker with the right employer.

Having worked two jobs while studying in Australia, Mark went through the grind of finding jobs to fit his schedule. He also saw firsthand the often unfair treatment of temp-workers as well as the flickering loyalty of the temps towards their interim-employers.

"I realized there was a huge mismatch in what the candidate was expecting and the actual job requirements. There was a core demand in most cases of having the flexibility to maintain work-life balance so that the candidate could meet their other commitments. So, we decided to put the power in the hands of job seekers, and the idea of Temploy was born," Mark shared when we caught-up last week.

Understanding the Market

Temploy looked at targeting the ASEAN market due to the sheer demand of skilled workforce in the region. Mark found that Thailand and Philippines had a high number of day semi-skilled and blue-collared jobs. Because these paid daily, there was a great demand from candidates to find multiple jobs to fit in their unpredictable schedule.

On the other hand, in Indonesia, especially in the Bunder, Surabhaya, and Jakarta districts, the average users were teenagers and college students looking for comparatively higher salaries for temp jobs.

"It is surprising to note that employers actively encourage such candidates to pick up a second job to meet these expectations," Mark noted.

Singapore faced a big labor crunch, and the main reason behind this was an image perception that certain jobs were considered un-cool by part-time prospective candidates looking to fill their summer holidays. These candidates also demanded higher pay than what employers could afford. Here flexibility and work-life balance are more important than the actual compensation. Mark also noted there is a stigma associated with working two jobs.

In Vietnam, where the workforce population is the youngest, localization still remains a major challenge but there is still a huge potential. Cambodia, on the other hand, does not have the necessary penetration of smartphone and Internet connectivity needed for the platform to succeed currently.

The Platform and All That It Entails

After developing their customized optimized man workforce system (OMWS), Mark launched the company in mid-2014. Since then, there have been tweaks and updates based on their ongoing understanding of the region and to improve the employee-employer match algorithms.

The platform empowers job-seekers by allowing them to design their own jobs, including how many and what hours they would like to work, salary expectations, and the type of jobs they are looking for. This then undergoes a sophisticated linear optimization algorithm that matches jobs anonymously, mapping the job-seeker's criteria with current openings posted by employers. Contact details are only exchanged once both parties accept that the match is to their satisfaction.

When I asked Mark what was different about Temploy, he said, "The unique proposition lies in the database being non-extractable, hence discrimination based on last name, race etc. is avoided. Plus our competitors cannot poach our client or our candidate listing."

Mark and his team selected SoftLayer as a foundation for building their platform. "It helps that the data center is located in Singapore, which reduces the latency for our audiences. Getting data replicated is easy as well. I have no worries whether my data is safe since we can auto-replicate it across other DCs, including geographically disparate locations. In addition, features like auto-scaling are helping us tremendously in dealing with traffic spikes emerging due to our recent marketing tactics. Moreover, the benefits of the Catalyst program and the support from SoftLayer's support team are second to none," he shared.

The video gives a quick explanation of how the portal works.

What's Next

Within seven months of its launch, Temploy has seen over 1,600 registered users. The team has been progressively looking for ways to improve the platform, which will soon include a SMS-based signup for low-Internet penetration regions. Temploy recently participated in numerous startup competitions. The latest includes a spot in Channel News Asia Start-up Season 2. Mark has decided to launch a non-profit event, Skillup 2015, for youth and the young-at-heart to explore what he calls, Epic Career Options outside the ordinary—part time work, freelance work, entrepreneurship.

Temploy is in the spotlight, and for all the right reasons.

Cheers,
–Namrata (Connect with me on LinkedIn or, Twitter)

February 16, 2015

The SLayer Standard Vol. 1 No. 6

The week in review. All the IBM Cloud and SoftLayer headlines in one place.

IBM Inks 10-Year Hybrid Cloud Deal With Shop Direct
IBM has signed a 10-year outsourcing deal to handle a hybrid cloud-computing environment for British online retailer Shop Direct.

IBM PartnerWorld: CEO Rometty Addresses Transformation
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty shared with PartnerWorld Leadership Conference attendees where the company is in its transformation, including its broad cloud portfolio.

IBM Cloud Chief: ‘We’re in a Marathon’
IBM Cloud leader Robert LeBlanc is ready for the cloud business transformation, one he sees as a marathon, with hybrid cloud as the next wave.

IBM Channel Sales and Marketing Teams Consolidated
At IBM PartnerWorld, the company announced that it has combined its various channel sales and marketing staffs into one consolidated group.

IBM Cloud Marketplace One-Stop Shop for Every XaaS Need
IBM's SoftLayer acquisition and BlueMix PaaS helped launch its cloud marketplace, where the company hopes to meet any enterprise demand.

Outsourcing RIP. Long Live Cloud Services-on-Steroids
IBM Cloud’s SoftLayer London data center is gaining customers as enterprises embrace the cloud and free up IT resources to invest in more valuable projects.

-Betsy

Categories: 
February 9, 2015

Eradicating Ebola with Grid Computing Linked by the SoftLayer Network

On September 30, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control confirmed the first case of Ebola in the U.S. Although not uncommon to hear of outbreaks in other parts of the world, this first case in the U.S. just happened to be in our own headquarters’ backyard—Dallas.

IBM jumped at the opportunity to help find a cure or at least a treatment for the virus, not necessarily because SoftLayer happened to be in the “storm’s eye,” but as Stanley S. Litow, IBM’s vice president of Corporate Citizenship and president of the IBM International Foundation said, “It is a privilege to partner with The Scripps Research Institute to advance the process of identifying an Ebola cure.”

But finding a cure is difficult. The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), an independent, not-for-profit organization has been researching Ebola for the past 11 years. Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire, says, “We’ve solved the structures that explain what the surface of Ebola virus looks like, how it attaches to and drives itself into cells, and how it behaves like a wolf in sheep’s clothing in hiding itself from an immune response.” [Read more on the research.] Finding a cure could take hundreds of years of computing time—not manpower. And now that more people are more mobile, it is vital to find a cure since the disease can easily spread over vast distances and quickly escalate into an epidemic.

The Technology Behind The Science

IBM’s philanthropic division, Corporate Citizenship, created World Community Grid in 2004 as a way for individuals to donate their spare processing power from their personal computers, tablets, and mobile phones when not in use. The World Community Grid is utilizing grid computing for researchers, like TSRI, to accelerate their research by breaking the research into millions of little tasks. When a device is not in use, it downloads one of these tasks, calculates, and then sends it back to the researchers when complete. Instead of utilizing one super computer, researchers harness the power of a virtual super computer. This collection of computing power is all connected via the SoftLayer network.

After the Ebola outbreak last fall, the number of infections increased steadily until last week. Officials link the increase to emergency funds for containing the disease in West Africa starting to run out. We may not see Ebola cured overnight, but thanks to grid computing and the efforts of scientists and individuals donating their idle computing power resources, hopefully treatments and vaccinations for this disease and many other diseases can be developed sooner.

- JRL

February 6, 2015

The SLayer Standard Vol. 1 No. 5

The week in review. All the IBM Cloud and SoftLayer headlines in one place.

IBM Lands Cloud Deals With Marriott, Others
IBM Cloud has entered into deals with Marriott, Opera Software, Sohonet, and Kallo.

What IBM Is Doing to Prove Cloud Computing Can Help Any Industry
IBM is making a major push to convince its enterprise customers, like Marriott, of the benefits of migrating to the cloud.

Sohonet Delivers Cloud for Rendering
Sohonet has signed on to IBM Cloud’s SoftLayer IaaS platform to provide its extensive network of film and media companies with the compute and storage resources they need.

National Grid Uses IBM to Add Predictive Maintenance Capabilities
National Grid is using cloud-based analytics powered by IBM Cloud’s SoftLayer to provide preventative maintenance.

Additionally, SoftLayer CTO Marc Jones recently met with members of the European press during a recent visit to Germany, France, and the U.K. Click here to read some of the key stories covering his visit.

-Betsy

Categories: 
February 2, 2015

#SLCloudLove: Growing an e-Commerce Business On The Cloud

Editor’s Note: Each month in 2015, we’ll be celebrating the cornucopia of reasons why the cloud reigns supreme — from customer tales to cloud insights and everything in between. During February, the notorious month of love, we’re showing you exactly why we heart the cloud. Follow all the fun on your favorite social networks by keeping tabs on #SLCloudLove.

Clicking Add to Cart—that’s how I like to shop these days. Brick and mortar shopping might be retail therapy, but the convenience and online discounts at my fingertips appeases my inherently lazy human tendencies.

With more and more online e-stores cropping up, physical retail outlets can no longer ignore not having an online presence, including a mobile-friendly website and ordering system. The numbers say it all:

  • e-Commerce sales are expected to be more than $1.7 trillion with mobile commerce accounting for nearly $300 billion in sales. Read more here.
  • In India, the e-commerce market is expected to reach $6 billion in 2015—a 70 percent increase over 2014. Read more here.
  • The Chinese government is allowing foreign-owned e-commerce companies to operate in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone as part of a pilot program; the market is expected to see a lot of inflow despite tough competition from local giants like JD.com and Alibaba. Read more here.
  • The six largest Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) reached $7 billion in total revenues in 2013 and will grow at a CAGR of 37.6 percent to reach $34.5 billion by 2018. Read more here.

So when I recently attended the iMedia Online Retail Summit, I jumped at the chance to discuss with the audience the benefits of moving their e-Commerce business to the cloud as well as discussing some very interesting stories about e-commerce platforms based in Asia.

Here is a quick overview of the presentation:

e-Commerce on Cloud
There is no denying the high reliance on IT. e-Commerce portals need to handle a rising number of Internet users, provide a secure and convenient online payment system, and support lucrative offers by e-tailors. The problem is that the utilization is unpredictable (except holiday season when it is predictably unpredictable!). If your site slows or freezes, especially during a sale, it can be compared to shutting your store on Black Friday. Customers will abandon their carts, and the social media sites will erupt with negative remarks—recall the recent headliner, Flipkart faces social media backlash over ‘crashes’, ‘misleading’ pricing.

The dilemma: Over-allocate and over-pay for unused resources just to manage sudden shopping spurts, or under-allocate resources and suffer the wrath of the new-age shopper. Cloud resources seems like a natural solution when you don’t want to be stuck in the either-or situation. But, not just any cloud solution will do. If a provider has a lock-in period or contract (even if it’s short-term)—well that's not really cloud, now is it?

Similarly the cloud solution is not justifying your investments if it is going to charge you every time you, as an internal user, try to move your virtual servers across your operating geos to get closer to customers. For example: your next online sale is targeted at holiday shoppers in Singapore or you want to carry out test runs for your Amsterdam customer base, but your core virtual server originally resides in Melbourne.

Solving e-Commerce Challenges with SoftLayer
I like using this image as it gives a great view into how SoftLayer can help e-commerce and e-tail customers manage day-to-day scenarios. From seasonal site traffic spikes to needing backup solutions for business continuity, SoftLayer has a solution for it. Plus SoftLayer brings advantages gleaned from working with e-commerce giants over the past decade.

Walking the Talk—Businesses that are Leveraging Cloud . . . Successfully!
In October 2014, Natali Ardianto, Tiket.com's CTO, gave a keynote address at Cloud Expo Asia about building one of Indonesia’s largest online travel and entertainment portals. When it first launched a few years ago, Tiket.com faced TCP, DoS, and DDoS attacks while hosting unsuccessfully on two different IaaS providers. The company needed a highly stable infrastructure delivering consistent performance and reliable support to ensure site uptime and a smooth end-user experience. Tiket.com chose SoftLayer to support its site. Running on SoftLayer bare metal servers, Tiket.com systems are now able to handle more than 300 API requests per minute and has experienced a 75 percent cost savings. Watch Natali's video where he discusses his cloud experience, or read the detailed case study.

HotelsCombined.com is an impressive collection of over 5 million real-time international hotel deals, a database of more than 800,000 properties and an affiliate base of over 20,000 companies. The company uses a combination of SoftLayer bare metal and virtual servers, load balancers, and redundant iSCSI storage. This provides the company with several thousand cores of processing power and enables it to remain lean and move quickly. The company also uses the SoftLayer infrastructure to provide real-time predictive models to the website and to support its business intelligence tools. Read the detailed case study.


Photo credits @iMediaSummit

While at the conference, I met up with a great bunch of entrepreneurs, startups and giants from across Asia. It was amazing to hear about the journey and growth plans of Rakuten, Life Project, Qoo10, Telunjuk, Seroyamart.com, and many more. Keep your ears open this coming year. The e-commerce landscape is rapidly progressing and these guys are weaving the fabric.

Cheers,

–Namrata (Connect with me on LinkedIn or, Twitter)

January 30, 2015

The SLayer Standard Vol. 1 No. 4

The week in review. All the IBM Cloud and SoftLayer headlines in one place.

The Man Behind IBM’s Cloud-Based Campaign
Robert LeBlanc, a 33-year IBM veteran, was named the leader of a new dedicated cloud unit in early January.

EMLYON Business School to Create a Smart Business School via IBM Cloud
EMLYON Business School will develop a new digital learning environment to deliver personalized, on-demand business education on a global basis via IBM Cloud’s SoftLayer infrastructure.

KONA’s Choice of IBM Cloud Set to Help Them Claim Significant Part of BaaS Market
KONA Uruguay will launch its new cloud-based application development service on IBM Cloud’s SoftLayer.

-Betsy

Categories: 
January 27, 2015

Hello, IBM Bluemix!

Developers, if you'd prefer to focus on building new applications instead of customizing your own unique cloud infrastructure, IBM Bluemix provides building blocks to rapidly develop and deploy applications on the Platform as a Service (PaaS) level to make life easier for you. It’s an ecosystem of services based on Cloud Foundry, an open source project designed to make deploying and scaling an application as simple as possible. Leveraging an existing project like this is a large part of what makes Bluemix so easy to use.

Bluemix integrates with Jazz, IBM’s DevOps service, to help manage code, plan versions and release, and actually push code to production. You can still use it with your github projects, so no worries there.

And as a SoftLayer customer (or potential customer), you can rest assured that Bluemix projects can run on SoftLayer’s hardware and network.

Core Ideas

The Application
This is your code. Bluemix comes with a number of predefined buildpacks to get your language of choice up and running quickly, but you will still need to actually develop your application. Bluemix hasn’t solved that problem yet.
Buildpacks
A buildpack is a collection of scripts designed to set up your container and all of the application dependencies. If Bluemix doesn’t have a buildpack that suits your needs, you can always create your own. Extending a buildpack is pretty easy. Simply clone an existing one to use as a base, make your changes, commit it to your github repo, and then tell Bluemix about it so it can build your application properly.
Services
Bluemix has a long list of services you can bind to your application. Instead of making a MySQL server yourself, you can just bind the MySQL service to your application and start coding. Along with many of the standard services expected from a CloudFoundry project, there are also some IBM specific ones, like Watson as a service. While I haven’t had the time to learn about Watson personally, everyone I talk to says it’s a rather neat thing to have on your application.

Getting Started

I recommend reading this tutorial which will get you to a nice “hello world” application. Overall I found that going from “I have no idea what Bluemix is” to “I’ve created my own Bluemix application!” to be a rather pleasant experience.

Creating your first Bluemix project is only a few clicks away. A Bluemix 30 day free trial should give you plenty of time to get an idea if Bluemix is the right fit for you.

Bluemix is absolutely worth checking out. So, what are you waiting for? Give it a go!

- Chris

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