Author Archive: Summer Rivera

November 21, 2011

The SoftLayer Server Challenge - ad:tech Expertise

If you've visited SoftLayer at a large conference this year, you probably came face-to-rack with our Server Challenge. Your task: Reassemble our miniature rack of SuperMicro servers in the fastest time at the conference. To do this, you need to install twenty drive trays in five servers and connect network cables in the correct switches to mirror the server rack setup on our data centers. If you're able to score the best time, you win an iPad 2!

In the sometimes-boring world of collateral and T-shirts at trade shows, the activity around this competition stands in stark contrast. It's been huge hit everywhere we go, so if you haven't had a chance to try your hand at the challenge, I'm sure we'll bring it to several of our 2012 shows. As a way of rewarding those of you who loyally follow our blog, I thought I could give you an advantage by sharing some tips for when you're in front of the Server Challenge rack ... And to give you an idea of how important these tips can be, look at how close the top two times were at ad:tech NYC:

That's right. 17 hundredths of a second between victory and defeat. Now are you ready to take some notes?

SoftLayer Server Challenge

The Start
When you start the challenge, don't look at the timer to see if your time started ... If it doesn't start, we'll stop you. By focusing your attention on the network cables or drive trays (whichever you choose to start with), you can save yourself a half of a second.

SoftLayer Server Challenge

Network Cables
You don't have to connect the network cables first, but I have to choose something to complete first, so the network cables won the coin flip. When you're connecting the network cables, it's best to grab all three cables of the same color and try to snap them in together. Plugging in the cables one-by-one requires three times the work.

SoftLayer Server Challenge

Hard Drives
When you're tackling the hard drives, the key is to line up the drives and have them installed completely before moving on. My tip for installing the drives is to tilt them in on a sideways angle, not at an upwards angle. If you try and tilt the drives upwards, you'll most likely get the drive tray stuck and have to remove it to try again. If you can do it precisely, picking up two drives at one time has worked well, and our all-time record of around 54 seconds took that approach.

SoftLayer Server Challenge

SoftLayer Server Challenge

SoftLayer Server Challenge

One last pointer: Lock them in place immediately after installing them. If you leave the latch open, it makes it harder to get neighboring drives installed, and it's such a small incremental effort to close the latch that even if you perfect a "close all the latches" technique at the end, you'd still end up spending more time.

SoftLayer Server Challenge

The Finish
Don't forget to put both hands back on the timer to stop your time. :-)

SoftLayer Server Challenge

Now that you're equipped with some of the best Server Challenge tips and tricks, we want you to start training. In 2012, we expect to see someone complete it in under 50 seconds ... And that person probably will carry the all-time record home – along with a new iPad 2!

Keep an eye on our Event Schedule for upcoming shows, and if there's a conference where you really want to see the Server Challenge, let us know and we'll see if we can set it up.

Good Luck!

-Summer

October 24, 2011

NOT Lost in Translation

When I attend conferences, I always try to make sure that I communicate what we do the best way I can. With our new data centers opening up in Singapore and Amsterdam, I was curious to see what a SoftLayer message would look like in the two countries' most prominent languages. With the gracious help from local representatives, we have our English message translated into Mandarin, Malay and Dutch.

English
We are the largest private hosting company in the world, providing cloud, dedicated, managed and integrated computing environments to over 25,000 customers around the world. We have recently added additional data centers and now have facilities in Amsterdam, Dallas, Houston, San Jose, Seattle, Singapore and Washington D.C., and network Points of Presence worldwide. On top of that, we have automated every part of our platform, giving our customers complete control, security, scalability and ease-of-management through the best Customer Portal and Open API in the industry.

Mandarin
我们是世界上最大的私人网站住办有限公司,带给全球超过25000客户的服务包括云计算,专用主机,主机托管和综合计算。最近,我们增加了额外的数据中心,现在已在阿姆斯特丹,达拉斯,休斯顿,圣何塞,西雅图,新加坡,华盛顿等拥有设施,网点遍布全球。最重要的是,我们自动化了每一个平台的部分,用同行业最好的客户门户和开放的API体系为客户提供完整的控制,集安全性,可扩展性,和易于管理与一体的服务。

Malay
Kami adalah syarikat swasta yang terbesar di dunia yang menyediakan pengkomputeran awan (cloud), hos berdedikasi yang diurus dan diintegrasikan ke dalam infrastruktur pengkomputeran untuk lebih daripada 25,000 pelanggan kami di seluruh dunia. Kami baru-baru ini telah menambah pusat data tambahan dan kini mempunyai kemudahan-kemudahan di Amsterdam, Dallas, Houston, San Jose, Seattle, Singapura dan Washington DC dan juga rangkaian "Points of Presence" di seluruh dunia. Selain itu, Kami telah mengautomatikkan setiap bahagian platform kami, memberikan para pelanggan kami penuh kuasa dan kawalan, keselamatan, kemampuan yang luas dan kemudahan pengurusan menggunakan pelanggan portal kami yang terbaik dan API terbuka (Open API) di dalam industri ini.

Dutch
Wij zijn het grootste, private hosting bedrijf in de wereld dat voorziet in cloud, dedicated, managed and integrated computing-omgevingen voor meer dan 25.000 klanten wereldwijd. We hebben recent extra datacenters toegevoegd en hebben nu vestigingen in Amsterdam, Dallas, Houston, San Jose, Seattle, Singapore en Washington DC en netwerk Points of Presence over de hele wereld. Bovendien hebben we elk deel van ons platform geautomatiseerd, waardoor wij onze klanten volledige controle, beveiliging, schaalbaarheid en gemak van beheer bieden met behulp van het beste Customer Portal en Open API in deze bedrijfstak

Back to English
While I might not be able to communicate those translations in conversation (yet), it's an incredible visualization of how SoftLayer is growing and changing. It's also exciting to think about how many more languages we'll need to include next year!

-Summer

October 20, 2011

Taking Multitasking to a New Level

Is it possible to be in three places at once? For SoftLayer it is! Last week was an extremely busy one for the SoftLayer team. SLayers from the marketing and sales teams were dispersed to cover three different trade shows in two separate cities where we'd meet a few thousand soon-to-be SoftLayer customers.

I attended Web 2.0 Expo in NYC – a great event where I was able to once again demystify the SoftLayer Switch Ball and explain the awesomeness of SoftLayer. Nothing too crazy to report from the expo floor, but we did have one interesting experience outside of the event where we witnessed a man sleep while standing up. We don't know how he was able to sleep for over two hours without falling over, but his execution was impressive:

NYC Sleeper

While I was in New York City, cPanel Bootcamp was happening closer to home in Austin, Texas. From what I hear, a second annual rocket war broke out, and our booth was rushed by attendees looking to stock up on ammo.

Just down the street from the cPanel conference, GDC Online was up and running in the Austin Convention Center. This was another awesome event for SoftLayer and once again the Server Challenge was a huge hit:

Congrats to Anthony Pecorella for winning with a time of 1:00.84! We know you'll enjoy your new iPad.

After both show floors closed, attendees from both cPanel Bootcamp and GDC Online joined us for some drinks, food and retro games at Maggie Mae's on Sixth Street. Notable attendees included Mario, Princess Peach and our very own Jeff Reinis who happens to be a 1983 Pac-Man record holder!

If you didn't have a chance to join SoftLayer, CoreSite and TeliaSonera at the Time Warp Retro Gaming Party, you can live vicariously via Flickr:

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make sure these three events went off without a hitch, and thanks to all of you who stopped by and said hi! We hope to see you all soon at one of our upcoming events: http://www.softlayer.com/Media/event-schedule

-Summer

Categories: 
September 19, 2011

Tips for the Unseasoned Traveler

This year has been exciting for me at SoftLayer. I took on a new role here as a member of our marketing team, and in that role, I've played a big role in our trade shows. We participate in a huge number of trade shows each year, and I've been lucky enough to meet thousands of current and (hopefully) future SoftLayer customers. To give you an idea of how often I'm on the road, I probably spend about 2-3 weeks each month away from home ... And that means I am in airports all the time.

I happen to be one of those weirdos that actually enjoys traveling, but honestly, the travel experience at airports and on planes can be pretty annoying at times, so I thought I'd put together some traveling tips before my next trip so I can hand out the URL when I see violations. Here's the short list of tips I've come up with in my travels:

At the Airport

  • When going through security do not choose the “Expert Traveler” line if you are not an expert. The experts will know you don't belong, and we will sneer at you.
  • The security line is not the time to make jokes on terrorism. In fact, there's never a good time to make jokes about terrorism, especially at an airport.
  • If you are selected for random screening, please do not throw a fit. The officer doing the pat down probably isn't trying to make a pass at you and hates the process just as much as you do.
  • If your boarding pass says Group 5 there is no point in huddling near the boarding area when the airline representative has called Group 1. You are the reason the boarding process is moving slowly.

Boarding the Plane

  • When the flight attendant announces that everyone should move into their row so other passengers can get by you, he/she is probably talking about you.
  • If you have a small enough bag to place under the seat in front of you, please do so. There is a person in Group 6 with a full size carry-on bag that would rather not have to check his bag because your shopping bag is taking up his valuable space.
  • If you are seated in the back of the aircraft, don't place your bag up in the front bin just so you do not have to roll it to the back. The people sitting in the front of the plane would rather not have to wait for everyone to get off the plane so they can walk to the very back to retrieve their bag.

On the Plane

  • You aren't fooling anyone by trying to hide your cell phone between your knees after the cabin door closes.
  • If the person next to you puts on their headphones it probably means they are not interested in having a flight long conversation about your life.
  • Please don't get mad at me if I decide to put my seat back. If you need more legroom, spring for First Class or at least an exit row. If you absolutely need me to stay upright, ask me nicely, and you'll have a lot better chance that I'll be able to help you out.
  • I got the window seat so I wouldn't have to get up if someone next to me needed to get into the aisle ... You got the aisle seat with a little extra room, so please don't have an attitude if I need you to move to get into the aisle. That's the tradeoff.
  • Yes, the armrest is shared, so you have a right to half of it ... This means that if your arm is on my half of the armrest and you're in my personal space, we have a problem.
  • If you decide to talk to the person sitting next to you on the flight, please keep your voice down. People five rows behind you are not interested in your conversation.

And lastly ...

  • Do not eat foods that may make you gassy before you travel. Passing gas in a plane where air is re-circulated is not cool.

Safe travels!

-Summer

May 24, 2011

Bringing Servers (and Koozies) to Europe!

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get to travel to Internet World in London for SoftLayer's first exposition at a tradeshow in the UK. With a new data center opening soon in Amsterdam, I was really excited to get to share our story and our vision for the future with a new audience.

I expected a few differences as I approached conversations at the show - accents, verbiage, thoughts on what this cloud stuff actually means, etc. - but as long as I could speak my Texan version of the language, I'd be able to explain who SoftLayer is and what we do ... With a few questions about what in the world a "switch ball" is and how it works. Here's a quick demonstration from GDC in San Francisco this year:

It's pretty funny to see the inventive ways conference attendees approach our giveaways ... The switch balls are often confused as puzzles and our frisbees are thought of as hats. At every tradeshow, people are fascinated with our giveaways, but Internet World provided a unique fascination: the "Koozie."

While the SoftLayer switch balls are always a huge hit (that we run out of at every show), what really seemed to intrigue the attendees in London were the SoftLayer Koozies - insulated can coolers. Most attendees thought the Koozies were cell phone holders initially, but once we explained that they are meant to keep your beer cold and your hand dry, they were surprisingly excited to have an opportunity to get a beer to test their Koozie out.

After coming across a few blank stares, giving some explanations and watching "Aha!" moments, I asked a few of the attendees why Koozies were not popular in Europe. The two most common responses: They drink their beer so fast it does not have time to get warm, and Europeans drink their beer warm. To me, drinking warm beer sounds really gross, but the next time I am in the UK, I will have to give it a fair shot ... Maybe the fact that they drink their beer warm is a result of not having a Koozie to keep their hand dry and their beer cold, so we might have brought about a monumental shift in European alcohol consumption! :-)

After demystifying the switch balls and Koozies, I think we did a great job sharing SoftLayer with our new audience, and I can tell that our space in Amsterdam won't be empty for very long after we open the doors there. If you stopped by the booth, I hope you went out of your way to get a cold beverage to test the amazing Koozie technology.

-Summer

May 10, 2011

SoftLayer's Core Values

On my first day on the job at SoftLayer, I was taught the core values of the company: Innovation, empowerment, automation and integration. Initially, I wasn't sure if this was "marketing talk" or actually the actual driving force behind SoftLayer. Now, almost a year and a half later, I see how these core values really do power SoftLayer's success every day.

In April, I was chatting with companies at Cloud Connections in Las Vegas, and I had the chance to give them some examples of how those core values make SoftLayer so much more than just another hosting provider:

Innovation
We're constantly bringing products to market before others in the industry realize the need for them. One example of this is our early adoption of IPv6. SoftLayer was the very first hosting provider to offer our customers IPv6 and to make sure our entire data centers were IPv6-ready.

Empowerment
We give our customers full root access to their hardware so that they are able to configure their environment exactly how they want it. Beyond that, each server comes with free KVM over IP and out-of-band management network capabilities. We give complete control to our customers so that they can create their own virtual data center experience on demand.

Automation
We've completely automated the provisioning process, so we can deliver fully provisioned, customized dedicated servers in 1-4 hours and fully provisioned cloud instances in 5-25 minutes. Most of SoftLayer's competitors take a few days (sometimes even weeks) to provision what we have online in hours.

Integration
We're the only hosting provider that can offer a truly integrated solution for dedicated servers and cloud computing instances. We offer a single portal and API to manage both of these solutions. We also offer a private network that connects your dedicated servers and cloud computing instances and allows them to communicate without going out over the public network.

If you're familiar with SoftLayer, you know that these core values permeate our business. By innovating, empowering, automating and integrating, we're trying to stay ahead of the game. If you would like to experience a way-better-than-average hosting experience, I am sure SLales would love to hear from you!

3B4L!

-Summer

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