Author Archive: Sean Charnock

October 19, 2010

Sunshine on a Cloudy Afternoon

A lot of time has been spent talking about the advantages of the cloud. I thought it might be instructive to explore some of the pros and cons from the point of view of a software company.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  1. It goes without saying that not all software companies (or products for that matter) are the same. There is a significant difference between developing and supporting a complex HR package and a word processor.
  2. The cloud will be viewed differently depending where a company is in its life cycle. Consider traditional software companies life Microsoft and SAP versus companies like Salesforce.com or Workday that have started life as SaaS providers.

Pros
Recurring Revenue / Cost Models - A business model based upon monthly recurring revenue has some significant advantages over the traditional license, implementation and maintain model that many vendors use. The predictability of the model makes it easier forecast revenues and costs, thus making enterprise planning easier.

Expanding the Customer Base - A recurring revenue model is also beneficial for a customer because they do not have to worry about significant upfront costs. In effect the cloud helps to expand the customer audience by potentially making a solution affordable across a broader base.

Scalability - The cloud provides that ability to scale up (or down) dependent on customer demand. This means that a vendor only pays for what it uses. Compare this to a model when Company X is dependent on forecasts to drive server / firewall / storage purchases. The end result is often stranded capital. Certainly these dollars are better put to use trying to find new customers and serve existing ones?

Infrastructure - If your cloud provider is good at what they do (like SoftLayer is!); infrastructure inside the DC (servers, memory, storage) and outside the DC (primarily network) will evolve as the market does. Company X will benefit from innovation without paying for it.

Cons
Pre-existing Business Models - Some software companies will simply be cloud-averse. While the cloud may make sense from a development and testing perspective, it may make less sense from a business model perspective. If the company’s revenue model is based on a traditional license, implementation and maintenance model, a shift to the cloud introduces challenges as pricing models and revenue recognition models (i.e. a move to recurring monthly charges) are likely to change. This is not insignificant and if the market isn’t screaming for a change, then change will not come.

Application Customization - A move to the cloud will mean that significant customization on a customer by customer basis makes less sense. It is more cost effective to service multiple customers on a single platform versus multiple customers on individual platforms, particularly if the traditional license, implementation and maintenance model disappears. At the end of the discussion, many customers may need significant customization. Of course this is dependent upon the solution being sold.

A key consideration with the challenges outlined above is that they are mostly at customer touch points. Use of the cloud still makes sense when the consideration is internalized - development and testing environments will still find a useful home in the clouds.

What do you think?

-Sean

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April 21, 2010

Building the Better Company

If you had the opportunity to listen to SoftLayer’s CEO, Lance Crosby, speak at this year’s Parallels Hosting Summit you definitely were able to obtain a key understanding as to his views on building solid companies in and through the hosting space. Some of the key points from Lance’s notes in regards to building sustainable businesses in the space were:

•Have a solid plan in place and use it as your guideline

•Create Systems that are scalable and metric driven

•Diversify the personnel and surround yourself with people that are experts in their functional areas and are sound characters. Don’t be a leader that thinks he is everything to all groups within the organization.

•Stop and look for mistakes, quickly correct the root problem and learn/adapt from those mistakes and repairs.

Lance’s message in his speech very closely aligns with a recent blog I read, “How to Build Your Own $23 Billion Company ,” which details the chairman of ASUS and his company’s ability to obtain significant market share in a once closed competitive environment, building a company from the ground up and with significant growth plans for the future. Jonney Shih, Chairman of ASUS, lays out his five rules that he believes are the basis for building any company, be it $500,000, $5,000,000 or $23,000,000,000 (as in the case of ASUS). Similarly to lance’s messages he states the following:

1)Sharpen the Sword – Build a plan and stick to it. Don’t jump from place to place. Have a focus and be the best at it that you can.

2)Ride the Right Wave – Seize the market opportunity. As Softlayer was able to seize the on-demand computing/virtualized data center market, ASUS was able to seize their market position in a time that built the foundation for their company to flourish.

3)Choose the right partners – Shih’s message of personnel is fundamental to his long term growth. “You need to really factor in their innate character,” Shih says. “You are going to work together for a lifetime, hopefully, and their character is as important as their technical knowledge.”

4)Recruit the best team leaders at the very beginning – As Lance’s speech mentions, the opportunity to build your company with a baseline of educated, experienced leaders with true functional, front line expertise will shape your organization for years to follow.

5)Drive the right strategy and confront the brutal facts – Not knowing the bad/ugly parts of business can compound these problems into downright disasters. Having people around you that are willing to look at mistakes with the idea to quickly correct these and move on will dramatically propel a company’s opportunity for longevity and growth. Ignoring things that can be addressed can only be negative in the long term.

Here at Softlayer, we have the good fortune to support many of the thriving hosting providers, VAR’s, managed service providers, and other niche based businesses that are gaining in both size and scale in the industry and really helping the hosting industry move from niche to mainstream. Many of these firms have humble roots such as Softlayer or ASUS in the example above. The key to continuing the mass adoption into the mainstream of the hosting space is to ensure that the leaders of the companies driving the growth are fundamentally sound and built on a proper foundation to achieve sustainable growth. SoftLayer’s groundwork has been laid to help support this growth throughout the industry. In our efforts to become the dominate force in the industry we hope that we have the opportunity to support the endeavors of those businesses and who knows, instead of ASUS, we may be talking about your company and how you have become the next $23,000,000,000 business.

April 14, 2010

The “Truth” (Or Common Sentiments) of Data Center and IT Professionals

In a recent column at searchdatacenter.com there was a list presented regarding the 20 universal truths in the Data Center. It’s a pretty funny list, but as an outsourced, on demand data center services provider, we are often catering to the IT operator’s mentality that resides in these truths. We have a good subset of customers that fall into many of these statements and we are continuously working to address, help, and augment—with the idea to help complete the IT story rather than compete with the IT strategy/needs of our customers… Below, I pulled out a few of the “truths” listed and added Softlayer views of them.

#2 - Upgrading Hardware is cheaper than improving Software – In the Softlayer world our services cater to this theory as a baseline for our offerings. We are constantly allowing customers to ‘right-size’ their compute needs and we are able to do this because of the robust compute offering and the flexible structure embedded in our business model.

#9 – Bandwidth is the same as energy. As more is provided, more is used – We have seen bandwidth usage grow almost threefold over the last 4 years and it’s a result of the internet applications demanding more bandwidth for things like video, voice, etc. Also, linear pricing models allow bandwidth to be less of an unknown and move towards a very predictable usage model.

#14 – It is always costlier and more time-consuming to wait and fix it later – Being able to quickly assess through metrics and functionality reviews, we fully subscribe to if it’s broke, fix it quickly and remove the legacy of the deficiencies. We are all human and will make errors and mistakes and being forward enough to recognize and repair these will continue to ensure your customer, employers, and employees that you have a handle on your business. Have you seen Lance Crosby’s printer stand?

#15 – By the time the CEO has learned enough to ask about a technology, it’s no longer a strategic advantage – My Favorite and have you met Lance Crosby?

#16 Exactly what you want will cost you more that you budget – In the spirit of full disclosure, our CFO, Mike Jones, takes our numbers that we budget for purchases and adds the “actual factor” to it of a +20-30%!!

The list of 20 is well worth the quick read and as I did the first time reading, I would imagine that many of you feel like you could have written this yourself. IT and Data Centers are tough. The goal for all of us is to increase efficiency, reduce costs and ensure that we spend more time moving forward and progressing rather than spending the bulk of our time fixing the past!!

November 6, 2009

Think Large, Think Global!

As an executive at Softlayer, one of the things that I am amazed by is the number of unique and extremely innovative ideas that we see on a daily basis from our customers. We love the fact that these groups understand the value of what we do, while focusing their energy on their core competencies. It’s the perfect relationship for us and one that we try to cultivate and grow continuously.

One of the challenges that we face is sharing information related to the entire breadth of our service offerings in a simple and useful way. Our business model is such that the cycle from first contact to purchase decision tends to be short. Most customers typically come in with a specified set of required services. We often hear comments like “we didn’t know you offered that as well” from customers that come to us with a shopping list and take advantage of the self-service capabilities that we offer. Global load balancing, CDN, and Data Center to Data Center back-up are all examples of products that we have heard get overlooked. It’s a tough balance between over selling and allowing a tech savvy customer work his way through the waters (so to speak).

One of the other challenges that we face here is overcoming the “we don’t need that” syndrome. I look at it practically and associate it with insurance and how it’s never needed, until something occurs that it makes it a must have. In tech terms, I recently read an article on CNNMoney.com “The Tech Catastrophe you’re ignoring” that typifies this “we don’t need that syndrome”. The article encompasses the idea of back-ups for your data. There is discussion that the business of dead drive recovery globally is up staggering rates and it’s due to the lack of people backing up data on a continuous basis. We hear this loud and clear at SoftLayer when a customer would accidentally lose data that they wish they would have spent the extra few dollars a month to back up. It seems trivial post incident, but pre incident it’s one of those decisions that gets passed on quite frequently.

As mentioned, the uniqueness and innovation that lives in SoftLayer’s service offering is tremendous. As our CEO hammers home the message of think large and think global to us every day, I want to pass that message onto our customers. What you do is driving industry, innovation and all that comes along with it. We hope that the decision making process for you as a customer is driven by thinking large and thinking globally and that you take advantage of the solutions that we offer to make your work more functional, more secure, more robust, and more effective. I can’t imagine telling my boss that ‘we didn’t need that’ if it was something that we did need and it was right in front of me. I am sure many of you share that sentiment!

January 31, 2009

IPV6 for Dummies (or Biz Dev Guys)

“Dummy” is definitely referring to any guy in the internet industry that has business in his/her title and also refers to other functional areas without core technology functions, like accounting (sorry Mike Jones!!). Softlayer has recently made a tremendous splash in the IPV6 world with our recent announcement to natively support IPV6 across all platforms within our environment. As a simple Biz Dev guy who usually gets introduced as the least technical in the room, here is my over-written, non-technical view of what the hype is all about.

What does IPV6 stand for?

Internet Protocol Version 6

So what the problem with IPv4?

As I see it there are about 4.5 billion IP addresses that can be utilized. In practice, after all of the wasted IP’s make their way through the world, there are more like 3,000,000,000 (that’s Billion) useful IP’s useable in version 4 (IPV4). Definitely seems like a lot, but it’s pretty well said throughout the internet that about 85% of these have been assigned and the unassigned are predicted to be at capacity in early 2011. Apparently this internet thing is not a fad and may be around for a bit longer. Assuming that the internet continues on its rapid growth pace, we are going to hit a wall.

How will IPV6 solve the problem and how robust is it?

So, obviously when there are limited amounts of available numbers, the logical step is to add numbers. Seems simple, but it’s a little more than just moving a decimal point. It’s a serious undertaking that has some major ramifications when talking about IP, including product and service delivery from the manufacturer to the service provider and everything in between. Due to the fact that I cannot figure out what this means “about 3.4×1038” I don’t know the exact numbers of IP addresses that Ipv6 will scale to, but I do know that it’s a lot more than Ipv4 (I did mention that this is IPV6 for dummies, didn’t I?). Basic gist is it’s a lot. Look for use cases across industry, but a leading driver has been the “on-demand” television industry, which indicates that over 500 channels of on-demand video is not that far off. Other indications can be seen here.

How long will this take and what does it affect?

In almost everything I have read it looks like a 3-7 year deployment timeframe to get Ipv6 implemented on a major scale. The deployment will effect almost everything internet, including bandwidth providers, manufacturers of network devices, software companies deploying in an IP environment, data center operators and everything in between. It will definitely be ‘of topic’ throughout the industry going forward.

So what does this mean to the common guy (aka Dummy) and the Technical guy?
In short, the non-technical guy will continue to surf and communicate uninterrupted as the change occurs. I look at the switch like my experience with local phone numbers. Growing up in a small town I used a seven digit system for local phone service (xxx-xxxx). The area code was for long distance only. Moving to Dallas, I realized the limitations of the seven digit phone number as the area code became part of the local dialing and we moved to a 10 digit system (xxx-xxx-xxxx). To me there was no real difference, but understanding the law of numbers, I got that the space was needed.

For the technical crowd the transition will start dictating decisions in their usage of IP based products, services, etc. Terms like “Dual-Stacked” and “IPv6 Compliant” will be often heard (or not) terms by the internet decision-makers in the future. The importance of a service provider that offers IPv6 throughout its network and has a fully functional dual stacked program in place will ensure a seamless transition throughout the IPv4 to IPv6 transition.

SoftLayer and IPv6

As mentioned and referenced in the recent press release SoftLayer is ahead of the curve on the IPv6 transition. Customers now have the ability to utilize the IPv6 format via our customer portal and API. We will continue to run Dual Stacked throughout the transition period and we will continue to work with all of our vendors on their transition into the IPv6 arena. We have committed to our customers that we will continue to be on the forefront of the IPv6 transition and we hope to answer the hard questions with a very simple “yes we do/can”.

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January 20, 2009

Hope and Change

Hope and Change (oh, and make that change quick and it better be robust)

Remember when the internet used to be about bulletin boards, e-mail and other random tasks like keeping up with CNN, ESPN or whatever news outlet you may fancy? It wasn’t that long ago, but after some time in the internet industry I have to tell you that I was amazed today by a real life representation of the evolution not just of the internet, but communications as we know it.

As I write this, it’s 4:00pm CST on January 20, 2009. The significance of this day will be marked in history by the inauguration of the 44th president, Barack Obama. Love him, hate him, whatever your position is, you cannot deny the sheer volume of intrigue as we enter into this presidency and its influence on the next 4 or 8 years, depending on how history plays itself out.

This volume of intrigue has officially impacted the internet in a manner yet to be seen prior to today, but in a manner that is likely to be seen more and more as technology continues to progress. In Softlayer HQ, we have a U shaped office the spans two sides of a corporate office building with the glass walls of the exterior creating the exterior barrier, while the interior barriers are your typical sheetrock, egg white colored walls. In between the Glass and the sheetrock lie some 60-100 cubicles. As I walked from conference room to conference room, I could easily see the video streaming of the inauguration on dozens of our employees computers. Some used the really cool CNN/Facebook stream, some used the MSNBC Stream, some used others, but you get the idea. The fact that live streaming video of monumental events occurs on a video screen; while the tasks at hand are being completed is something that old movies portrayed as beyond belief. It’s really impressive the technologies that are at our fingertips and the abilities that we have to utilize these in our daily lives.

Softlayer had the opportunity to experience a real life “so what does that mean for internet going forward” example today. Recently we were approached by a large scale content delivery firm with the expectation that they had been contracted to do live streaming of the inauguration. With a simple introduction we indicated that we were well prepped to provide you the turnkey infrastructure to accomplish their task. Without going into great detail, the infrastructure included 200+ servers, multiple load balancers, firewalls, and other ancillary devices. With the on-demand nature of our business we were able to enable the infrastructure to functional within a 4 hour period. Although stated to the customer, they had their reservations, but true to our stated deployment times, we met with flying colors, the expectations.

So the real test, Performance! Although still streaming through what is likely to be one of the biggest, most watched events on the internet, Softlayer increased sustained bandwidth north of an additional 30Gbps to our network IP over and above our usual sustained bandwidth levels. Utilizing the 200+ Gbps of capacity throughout our network, we were in a fortunate position to have the capacity and the infrastructure in place to support such a large event. I am sure that the cellular firms wish they had prepped for better capacity in terms of spikes in usage. With many hearts racing in the throughout the office, but especially in the network department due to the bandwidth graphs racing upwards, all of here at Softlayer are excited that we were part of the day’s events. The many many meetings that involved robust network discussions, capacity planning, future growth models, etc. were all validated today with this event. The ‘We’ll never use that much’ and ‘that’s overkill’ discussions have all been put to rest. By deploying 40Gbps to each rack and building upstream capabilities that have capacity not as an issue, but as a planning and growth tool, we are extremely excited about what the future holds in terms of online, internet communications. We are looking forward to the next generation of internet technology as it becomes more and more robust. Our mantra remains firm as the leader in next generation virtualized data center services and we look forward to realizing the things that movies portray as beyond belief.

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February 6, 2008

Big Business is Messing with my Caffeine Fix!

Most of the posts here have a technical spin, and well deservedly, but this one is a little different. This is my version of an open letter to the CEO of Starbucks and any other CEO out there who is messing with my daily life by putting the idea of "conquering the world", over the needs of the people that will get them there -- the consumer. So here goes my rant:

Dear Mr. Starbuck's (aka Howard Schultz),
As a frequent patron of your fine establishment for many years, covering many locations in multiple states and multiple countries, I need to ask a personal favor. PLEASE stop messing with me, with the idea of me being anyone other than 'big business'. See I live in Dallas, Texas and this past weekend I had the urge to actually forego my normal $5 cup o' java at any of the 50 Starbucks within the 4 mile radius of my house and actually go to a local establishment that has some great beans. I wasn't going for a cup, but I was going for an actual bag of beans that I might be able to take back to the house and brew a random cup of sissy coffee (the flavored coffees that actually make hair fall off your chest, rather than put it on there like the SENOMA blend from the aforementioned Starbucks). BTW, for you Dallas'er's my preference for my random sissy coffee fix is a Cafe Brazil.

Location aside, I drive past the 50 Starbucks in route to the closest Cafe Brazil which is about 5 miles away. My coffee of choice is the 'Snickerdoodle', so I was thinking I will big bag it and get a pound, maybe two, to ensure my fix is completely covered. I walk in to the aroma o' joy that comes along with a coffee house. To an addict of caffeine, it's kind of like Vick's to a cold! All employees eye me and my girlfriend as we smile our way to the counter. As we are walking up, something just isn't right and we can tell immediately something is amiss. Where are the bean's that all of the other locations have? Where are the grinders? Being sure they are in the back or on the other side of the restaurant, I say with confidence, I want the biggest bag of beans I can get my hands on. The response, without a bat of an eye, was "not here sir, Starbucks forbids it!" WHAT THE $!%$? Again, the CSR at the counter say Starbucks told the landlord that they forbid anyone else in the shopping square to sell Coffee Beans to- go and went as far to tell me that he could not even pour me a cup of the coffee in a to-go cup, as per this was also forbid by Starbucks. This disappointment was seen in both of our faces and the CSR could tell that tears may be near, so the obligatory 'sorry' was thrown out with a 'can we do anything to make this right' comment?

This is unacceptable to me. As the loyal readers of theinnerlayer and all of the employees of Softlayer can attest, Caffeine in any form is like the blood through the veins of this company. Pound for pound, employee for employee, I would challenge the caffeine intake of Softlayer against any other company in the world. Pot after pot of, yes Starbuck's, is brewed hourly, if not minutely. Literally, cases of Monster are brought in weekly to support the efforts here. With the new JAVA Monster, the numbers may just fly right off the charts. Hence, the frustration

Mr. Starbucks, as one of the founders here at Softlayer I can tell you that all of us think about dominating our segment of the world, planned for it and expect it. Surrounding myself with the smartest people I have ever been around gives me a comforting feeling that all of these goals will be achieved. With the support of these smart people I refer to, we all have a standing order internally that to get to our stated goals; the idea of alienating customers by self serving goals has to nipped in the bud. We are a services company to the masses which means we believe that natural competition is healthy and that continuing to strive to build the bigger, better solution, customers will always be the winner in the equation. If we believed that exclusionary practices and pure heavy weight domination was the proper way to win, we would have thrown our money that way, but the open market allows us to stay at the top of our game, remain cutting edge and push for innovation and automation that will allow us to grow our customer base because we have a better solution for the customer, not because we don't allow the customer to have any other option. I/we may be a small fish in the pond so to speak, but I think you might be able to learn something from my statements. I'm off to get my fill of caffeine, but not sure Starbucks will be my first choice for the next short while.

Sincerely,
One un-caffeinated, unhappy customer
(Sean Charnock)

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October 17, 2007

ISPCON Update: Blogging/Social Marketing Impact

ISPCON Update: Blogging/Social Marketing Impact – Do ya Digg?

With ISPCON starting today I thought it would be interesting to hear what companies and individuals in the ISP space are talking about when it comes to social medias, blogging and any other real user experience methods that are taken to attain and retain a customer base in the ISP world. After all, Softlayer is a cousin (be it distant cousin) of the ISP world and most of our executive management team has all lived the ISP experience at one time in our careers.

The session "using social networking and Web 2.0 to market your business" started off with an extremely interesting video that can be seen here:


Since it was voted one of the more famous YouTube videos, I might be one of the only ones that had not seen it yet, but nevertheless it is a cool look at Web 2.0 (and much more).

There are a few key themes that were driven home during the discussion.

Web 2.0 in its simplest form is user-generated and manipulated content. In technical terms its AJAX, Feeds and Simplicity. The Myspace, Facebook and Youtube phenomenon are drivers of this and we are seeing a huge influx of follow-on companies that are utilizing the common theme of user-generated content to monetize applications throughout the internet. An example of this would be the Facebook open API being used to build gadgets. One gadget cited is a whiteboard application allowing multiple users to collaborate in Facebook and through ad-generated monetization, an obscene number of nearly $100,000USD per month was being attributed to the creator.

Blogging is the real Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Living in the world of Buzz words, it's hard to read any tech publications these days without stumbling across SEO. What is it? Well, no one really knows, but it's some magic that companies are buying into which get them to the front of the search line, so to speak. The concept that blogging is the real SEO is because blogging is very close and very niche to the topics that are being blogged about. If I am a used car dealership in Dallas and I blog about my weekend sale in Dallas, it would make sense that when someone searches for used cars in Dallas, that you cannot get more directly connected. It all makes sense, now it's just how the information is dispersed which leads me to the last point that was driven home.

Tagging is critical to all socialization, blogging, and web 2.0 applications that you may be trying to publish for mass consumption. Since the eyeballs are critical it is key that the use of tagging and linking are used to increase the reach of your user generated-content. For example, the use of Digg, Reddit, and Del.icio.us are key drivers of eyeballs to your content. Tag it all, Tag it often and the eyeballs will follow.

So, when I publish this blog I am sure to Tag it with; Softlayer, Webhosting, Web 2.0, etc. Let's see if my social experiment will pay off and someone out there will Digg this!

-Sean

August 1, 2007

Web 2.D'oh!

What in the world is going on? There are people out there who are always determining that we must be labeled something. The Early 2000s was the dot.com era, then there was the bubble bursting era and it seems now that we live in the "Web 2.0 Era". Whatever label is put on any era there are always head-scratchers out there who catch someone's eye and this has definitely caught mine. In a recent article on webware.com, one of the brightest, high-flying Web 2.0 companies is now up for sale oneBay. Per the listing, these are the following attributes that make Xcellery an excellent Acquisition target (outside of the "buy on the cheap from ebay" thing):

  • The startup was ranked among the Top 5 at the Office 2.0 conference.
  • Approx. 10,000 subscriptions include paying customers on SalesForce.com/AppExchange
  • Huge waiting list for Xcellery Enterprise Edition (XEE) customers
  • State of the art technology: C#, ASP.NET 2.0, AJAX, MySQL/SQL server
  • Two years development time was invested to build Xcellery
  • Xcellery is integrated into SalesForce.com/AppExchange including a payment system with PayPal
  • www.xcellery.com has reached a PR five and is in the top three when searching for "Online Excel" and others
  • The founder team is interested to stay on board and help continue the venture

What this tells me is that no matter how technology changes our lives and how optimistic we are about conquering the world, underlying fundamentals of business are the key to any company's success. We (Softlayer) host a tremendous number of web 2.0 firms and are excited to see the growth and opportunities that are presented to many of these companies. After all, our customers' successes equate to a long-term relationship with us, so we are rooting for all of you.

So Web 2.0'ers, as we all set our sights for greatness, don't forget -- old school business-fundamentals drive a lot of the abilities for us to be innovative and ground breaking!

Keep thinking!!

-Sean

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July 23, 2007

The User Experience – SoftLayer 101

One of the broadest and most challenging topics in any company is capturing a customer's full attention at all times. In its simplest form, this seems pretty easy. First, you address the market that you are vertically aligned with, such as finance, technology, manufacturing, etc. and then you establish what you want your user experience to be leveraging your knowledge of these markets and dedicated your full resources to marketing to that niche. As the internet changes the traditional marketing principles into this new "never never land" of instant feedback through forums, blogs, RSS feeds, etc. the landscape of the user experience is definitely changing.

So what happens when your markets cross all boundaries, have no verticals and can range from an individual to a fortune 10 company? How do you create an environment that captures a unique experience for the single man consulting shop, while maintaining a completely different, yet equally impressive, environment for a company outsourcing their internal IT infrastructure needs completely to you? Obviously, this is extremely challenging and it’s the position that we sit in daily here at SoftLayer.

The user experience really seems to be a philosophy that has to be adopted from top down in any organization. I found an older article that really seems to capture the essence of the user experience. In the article it talks about companies such as Dell, Amazon, Nordstrom’s, Jet Blue, etc. and it breaks down the user experience into 4 simple categories:

  1. Comfortable
  2. Intuitive
  3. Consistent
  4. Trustworthy

With these 4 categories in mind it has me thinking and challenging the entire SoftLayer team internally to think about how we fit into these. SoftLayer is largely comprised of engineering talent and, to no fault of theirs, they often keep there heads down for hrs/days/weeks at a time and look up time of project completion and forget that there is anything else going. It’s the nature of the business and our engineers and developers are world class, so I tread lightly on my ‘rock the boat’ comments, but it’s definitely a topic of conversation internally as we are constantly focused on enhancing the experience of SoftLayer for our customers.

The SoftLayer team has many stated goals when it comes to cutting edge technologies, changing the landscape of the dedicated hosting market, and really adapting and evolving our products and services to ensure that we meet the needs of all of our customers. Our customers are the driving force for enhancement here and we listen very clearly. We have been fortunate to have built such a tight knit community here which is something that we believe drives a difference between us and others in the marketplace.

As a continuous exercise I would like to reach out to you, the customer, and ask for feedback on items that you think could enhance the 'user experience' here. Much like the cliché about the CEO having an open door policy at work, I want to let everyone know that our doors are open and we want to hear what you have to say. Are we doing a good job in the four characteristics listed above? Do you have ideas/thoughts that you think can be globally impacting to us?

As always, bizdev@softlayer.com is an open line to share thoughts with me directly and the great part about my job is I am cross functional throughout the organization, so my lines goes from the top (Lance) through all of the groups be-it development, operations, sales, finance/accounting, etc. We are here to listen, so speak up!

-Sean

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