Author Archive: Nick Chevsky

May 17, 2011

Row, Row, Row Your Dragon Boat

Following a long-time tradition inherited from The Planet, SoftLayer proudly participated this past weekend in the 2011 Dragon Boat, Kite and Lantern Festival in Irving, Texas. The festival, filled with colorful lanterns and kites, cultural performances, and great food, is centered on a water sport that originated in China over 2,000 years ago: Dragon boat racing.

Dragon Boat

Every year, organizations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area compete against each other by filling a boat with 20 rowers and one "drummer" to propel a 35-foot dragon boat for 250 meters across Lake Carolyn in Las Colinas.

Dragon Boat

Having this event in our own backyard, we thought it'd be a fantastic opportunity for SoftLayer's "3 Bars BBQ" to show off its legendary culinary artistry. In addition to our group of private tents for employees to chill in by the lake, we set up a booth in the food vendor area with tons of delicious brisket, ribs, baked beans and potato salad. And since we're pretty well known for our swag, some free cups and frisbees made their way to the event and ended up sprinkling SoftLayer's logo all over the festival.

Dragon Boat

Under the "DragonSLayers" name, SoftLayer fielded two rowing teams that competed passionately to the chant of "Row, Row, Row!" Watching the races was a lot of fun, and it almost made me question my decision to stay ashore holding a four-pound camera. But hey, there would be no pictures if I hadn't!

With a blazing fast best time of 1:15.7, the DragonSLayers took second place in the corporate division!

Dragon Boat

Counting families and pets, we had over 200 SLayers come out to support our paddlers and enjoy an afternoon filled with fun performances, great food, friendly competition … and lots of dragons.

We look forward to seeing you out there next year! Until then, we'll be meeting in secret to train and hone our dragon boat paddling skills.

-Nick

P.S. If you want to see a few more pictures from the event, head over to our Flickr album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/softlayer/

Categories: 
February 15, 2011

Five Ways to Use Your VPN

One of the many perks of being a SoftLayer customer is having access to your own private network. Perhaps you started out with a server in Dallas, later expanded to Seattle, and are now considering a new box in Washington, D.C. for complete geographic diversity. No matter the distance or how many servers you have, the private network bridges the gaps between you, your servers, and SoftLayer's internal services by bringing all of these components together into a secure, integrated environment that can be accessed as conveniently as if you were sitting right in the data center.

As if our cutting-edge management portal and API weren't enough, SoftLayer offers complimentary VPN access to the private network. This often-underestimated feature allows you to integrate your SoftLayer private network into your personal or corporate LAN, making it possible to access your servers with the same security and flexibility that a local network can offer.

Let's look at a few of the many ways you can take advantage of your VPN connection:

1. Unmetered Bandwidth

Unlike the public network that connects your servers to the outside world, the traffic on your private network is unlimited. This allows you to transfer as much data as you wish from one server to another, as well as between your servers and SoftLayer's backup and network storage devices – all for free.

When you use the VPN service to tap into the private network from your home or office, you can download and upload as much data as you want without having to worry about incurring additional charges.

2. Secure Data Transfer

Because your VPN connection is encrypted, all traffic between you and your private network is automatically secure — even when transferring data over unencrypted protocols like FTP.

3. Protect Sensitive Services

Even with strong passwords, leaving your databases and remote access services exposed to the outside world is asking for trouble. With SoftLayer, you don't have to take these risks. Simply configure sensitive services to only listen for connections from your private network, and use your secure VPN to access them.

If you run Linux or BSD, securing your SSH daemon is as easy as adding the line ListenAddress a.b.c.d to your /etc/ssh/sshd_config file (replace a.b.c.d with the IP address assigned to your private network interface)

4. Lock Down Your Server in Case of Emergency

In the unfortunate event of a security breach or major software bug, SoftLayer allows you to virtually "pull the plug" on your server, effectively cutting off all communication with the outside world.

The difference with the competition? Because you have a private network, you can still access your server over the VPN to work on the problem – all with the peace of mind that your server is completely off-limits until you're ready to bring it back online.

5. Remote Management

SoftLayer's dedicated servers sport a neat IP management interface (IPMI) which takes remote management to a whole new level. From reboots to power supply control to serial console and keyboard-video-mouse (KVM) access, you can do anything yourself.

Using tools like SuperMicro's IPMIView, you can connect to your server's management interface over the VPN to perform a multitude of low-level management tasks, even when your server is otherwise unreachable. Has your server shut itself off? You can power it back on. Frozen system? Reboot from anywhere in the world. Major crash? Feeling adventurous? Mount a CD-ROM image and use the KVM interface to install a new operating system yourself.

This list is just the beginning. Once you've gotten a taste of the infinite possibilities that come with having out-of-band access to your hosted environment, you'll never want to go back.

Now, go have some fun!

-Nick

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