Author Archive: Dorian George

July 6, 2010

SoftLayer API Updates

Our API has gone through more than a few changes since the middle of 2006 when it was first released in beta to a few of our customers. Since then, it has grown from a handful of available features to your one stop shop for infrastructure automation needs. Providing all the functionality our customer portal has, plus putting automation in your/the customers’ hands that was only dreamed of a few short years ago. We have a few NEW note worthy features we just released concerning the API that numerous people have asked for. So here goes:

1.Opened the API up to the public network

We now have two ways to access the SoftLayer API. The first is the same method you have been using utilizing our private network. Some developers have asked for a way to bypass the VPN and private network. So we have added a publicly accessible entry point for the API in addition to the private network. This should open up your development to new exciting desktop widgets and consumption of our API for external software projects without requiring the VPN overhead. More information is available in the SLDN wiki.

2. RESTful web services

We added a simple Representational State Transfer (REST) interface to the arsenal of already supported SOAP and XML-RPC protocols. REST is great if you want to perform simple requests that do not require the complexity of SOAP and for simple integration into AJAX related operations on web pages.

3.New documentation

We have just revised our documentation located in the SLDN wiki. We added more examples, updated connection information for public access and usage for our new REST protocol support. We have also been busy working on our growing collection of open source projects.

4.New Code Samples

As you may or may not have heard Softlayer has a github account now. We are uploading projects and examples as fast as we can. You might want to check out Stratos a white label portal example, Client libraries for Python, Perl and PHP, as well as our growing gist examples which outline common tasks requested by customers.

We would love to hear any feature requests you are looking for, so let us hear from you.

March 5, 2010

Does Your Password Suck? Maybe it’s Time to Upgrade.

Just about everything you use wears out over time. Yet some people feel the need to use the same password for years on end. I have followed a few articles over the last few months and it seems that password usage best practices are hard to get to end users—between the Hotmail Scam that revealed the most common password is "123456" to the ongoing surge of phishing sites I see in my email every day. Here at SoftLayer we provide server security scanning automatically in the portal, which is used all the time. But, some of those same users do not review their personal security policy involving their login accounts.

In the customer portal over the years we have added numerous security upgrades to help alleviate password style attacks, including: the addition recently of the Verisign Identity Protection; and, some of the past changes like security questions, IP restrictions, and failed password attempt throttling. We are trying to do our part securing your account, but we need help from you as the end user by periodically updating your password and other security requirements. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Now go change your password! Here are a few simple guidelines to get you started:

Good Choices:

  • Make it as long as possible
  • Use as many different characters as possible
  • Do not use words listed in standard dictionaries as your password

Things not to do:

  • Write your new password on a sticky note and attach it to your monitor
  • Use one of the top 500 passwords
  • Share your brand new password with friends

The bad guys are getting smarter, the end users (that means you) need to step it up too.

Offsite References:

-Dorian

January 22, 2010

A Little History Lesson and Reflection

In this industry, it seems very easy to get in the rut of looking forward without stopping to take the time and look back. Whether it is a project deadline or just planning for the future, past accomplishments sometimes get lost in the day to day workload. I remember back on January 23rd of 2006—exactly four years ago tomorrow—when we opened the doors. We had 17 employees and around 1,000 servers in our one and only Dallas server room. With just 17 employees you can imagine we wore many hats, and I will not miss or take for granted prepping racks such as putting cage nuts or rails in ever again.
From our humble beginnings, things grew at a rapid pace to say the least. Over the last four years, we have grown to 175 employees, 25,000+ servers spanning facilities in Dallas, Seattle, and Washington D.C. and just recently passed $100 million annualized run rate mark. Not too shabby for four years, if I do say so myself.
The product and service offering have grown at an astounding pace as well. Thanks in part, I think, to our API—launched publicly in May of 2007. Was that over two years ago? It seems like yesterday. On top of that, there have been too many individual products to list here. Some highlights would fall into the areas of: CloudLayer, StorageLayer, backup solutions, and security solutions—just to name a few!
Looking forward I think 2010 is going to be a big year for SoftLayer, not that the past years haven’t been. I cannot get into any details; but, as usual there are big plans on the horizon, and you know we aren’t planning on slowing down anytime soon. Looking back, it has been a packed and crazy four years, but I would not trade it for anything.

March 2, 2009

Start Your Own Stimulus Plan 2009

In case you have been living under a rock, a stimulus plan was passed a few weeks ago here in the United States. There have been numerous blogs, news articles, videos posted on why it will and will not work. If you want to know more about it, you can get additional information from the government site http://www.recovery.gov. You may be relieved to know I am not here to get into some big rant on the merits and flaws in the plan.

What I do want is to voice my opinion on the whole issue and what you can do about it. I think this is a very pivotal time for the entire world and sitting around waiting on the government is not in anyone’s best interest. At SoftLayer we began referring customers to server management companies a few months after we opened, via our forums. Since this has helped numerous companies listed in the forums, I think it is time to branch out and expand on this. I found a website not associated with SoftLayer called “Make a Referral Week”. I think it is best described on their website:

“As the talk of recession crowds the news and economic stimulus package debates rage in Washington DC, it’s time for small businesses to take the matter into their own hands. Therefore we hereby declare March 9-13, 2009 - Make a Referral Week.”

Make a Referral Week is an entrepreneurial approach to stimulating the small business economy one referred business at a time. The goal for the week is to generate 1000 referred leads to 1000 deserving small businesses in an effort to highlight the impact of a simple action that could blossom into millions of dollars in new business. Small business is the lifeblood and job-creating engine of the economy and merits the positive attention so often saved for corporate bailout stories.”

I want to encourage you to participate in the event, and if you stumble across this post after the event go ahead and try it out for a week. It’s a great way for you to help fellow business owners small and large and get involved in making a difference.

Click here for more information and to make a difference:

make a referral week

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September 26, 2008

Browser Wars III

With the recent releases of Google's Chrome (Sept 2), Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 (Aug 28), Mozilla's Firefox 3 (June 17), not to mention all the legacy browsers many of which are still in use. If you are not a web developer, you are probably thinking why should I care what web browser people are using? Believe me you should, the majority of SoftLayer’s customers run a business and with that have a website which must be displayed on, you guessed it, a web browser.

1. Layout/Rendering Engine
This could be one of the biggest differences between the browsers, a layout/rendering engine is what the browser uses to parse the html and display your web pages. Although there are numerous specifications for various types of content (HTML, XHTML, images, etc..) each of the engines seem to render it slightly different based on their interpretation of the specification documents.

But don’t take my word for it go check the ACID website or the screenshots of the ACID tests in different web browsers.

2. Your Privacy
Most of the front runners in the browser wars are sending your usage and machine specifications back to the mother ship. What they are doing with the information once they get it, who knows. But, with Google being the front runner in search and ads, with the addition of Google Chrome, they pretty much can monitor all web usage for anyone using their product. Please get out the tin foil hats now ☺

3. Usage / Front Runner
Based off most of the statistics I have seen IE 6, IE 7, Firefox 2, Firefox 3 are the front runners, with a few stragglers using Safari and Opera. But I bet things will be changing and Chrome will be coming up in usage ranks over the next few months as well as IE 8 once it is released from Beta.

At SoftLayer we test on all the major front runners in the browser wars for our web presence. I will be grabbing the popcorn and watching the show, things are about to get hectic in this area. Whether it is good or bad; users are getting more options in the browser market.

-Dorian

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