executive-blog

February 23, 2009

Shouldn’t Service Industries Be About Service?

It’s a pretty fundamental idea that I am finding gets overlooked more and more these days. I recently ordered DirecTV for my home, and I haven’t had any real problems with it. After all, it’s just programming. It’s the same programming that we’ve had for years and take for granted all the time and just expect it to work, but thankfully it does work. If you have ever been a customer of the numerous companies that treat customers like cattle, then you may share my point of view and frustration in dealing with them.

I have spent hours on phone calls trying to sort out many different aspects of my services, but normally wind up being told that the issue is not part of my contract and that they cannot help me further. In most situations, I know that the person on the other end of the phone is simply doing their job. But, as a customer, any small effort and willingness to look at alternatives would go a long way towards eliminating a lot of the frustration. It is all too common that customer services reps work almost exclusively from a set of scripted answers as opposed to actually looking at the reason that one of their customers is calling in the first place. With the cynicism that gets built up, one begins to think if these companies care at all about their individual customers.

Ok, so enough for the doom-and-gloom about how many companies operate today and take advantage of these situations. It is time to stop focusing on the negative and start working positively on a sensible solution. One thing we can always control is our own actions, and I have vowed to never let a SoftLayer customer feel like we were unwilling to work with them in order to put their goals within reach. Think of the “golden rule” and make sure I am treating anyone I work with the same way that I wish companies I called would treat me.

It seems that in the global economy that we live and work in, you would expect many companies to strive for differentiation by not only providing a great product/service that people want, but also compliment their offerings by providing a high level of customer service that leaves the customer feeling fortunate to do business with them. If this were the case more often, contracts would not be necessary because the company would be able to count on its superior offerings and customers would not have any reason to leave based on the customer service.

In the vast world of IT and the seemingly limitless options our network infrastructure brings it can be nearly impossible to fit a standard model for everyone and their specific needs. Being flexible, understanding, and willing to work with our customers is what allows us to build better business relationships which promote more success for both our customers and us.

Simply put, the number one thing that any service industry business relies on most is its customers, and we must never forget that.

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February 19, 2009

Virtualized Datacenters

It shouldn’t be any surprise to people who know SoftLayer that we follow the "Virtual Datacenter" discussions quite closely. In fact, it is awesome to see people discussing what sounds a lot like what SoftLayer already is.

The concept of Virtual Datacenter is that you have all the power of a datacenter at your command without having to worry about the details of actually running a datacenter. Chad Sakac from EMC wrote an excellent post in his personal blog about the transformation to a Virtual Datacenter.

One of the points Chad makes is the abstraction of the physical infrastructure. Quoting Chad:

"Every Layer of the physical infrastructure (CPU, Memory, Network, Storage) need to be transparent. Transparency means 'invisible'. This implies a lot, and implies that the glue in the middle, like a general purpose OS, needs to provide the "API models" for those hardware elements to be transparent. "

I latched on to this point because that is what we have been building at SoftLayer for the last few years. We realize that the abstraction of the physical infrastructure not only means that end-users don’t need to know how to manage the physical infrastructure, but that the abstraction can make more efficient use of resources (= money!).

Let’s talk about the advantages of virtualized infrastructure. Without virtualization, provisioning a web-facing server on the network would involve obtaining rack space, a server, licensing and loading an OS, finding a switch port, physically connecting a cable or three, setting up the switch port (I hope you know IOS), getting IP Addresses (hopefully you don’t have to go get more from ARIN), and adding a firewall and/or load balancer (more procurement, cabling, and configuration). Adding storage could be just as complex – also involving procurement, racking, cabling, and configuration. This doesn’t sound very efficient. In fact, it sounds a lot like creating a “circular device that is capable of rotating on its axis, facilitating movement or transportation whilst supporting a load”. It's been done before and I'll bet it’s been done better by people other than you.

Using virtualized infrastructure you should be able to perform the task with a few clicks of a mouse or a few API calls and have the functionality you need set up in a few minutes instead of days, weeks, or months. No worrying about procurement, physical constraints, or learning the specifics of network and storage devices from different vendors. All you should have to focus on is the running of your particular application. You shouldn’t have to worry about configuring servers, networking, and storage any more than you should have to worry about chillers, HVAC, generators, and UPS batteries.

-@nday91

February 13, 2009

1234567890

Do you remember that song from Sesame Street? The lyrics were so catchy that very few people who grew up watching it have forgotten the song. You don’t even need to look up the lyrics, everyone knows them even if they’ve never watched the show.

1,2,3,4,5… 6,7,8,9,10… 11,12!

If you’re not aware, all UNIX and UNIX-like operating systems keep their time in a format known as “epoch time”. This is the number of seconds since January 1, 1970 00:00:00 GMT. Regardless of your timezone, your UNIX machine should show the same number of seconds as every other UNIX machine in the world. This clock is based off of GMT, and your local timezone settings simply interpret this epoch time based on your local timezone.

So what’s that have to do with the price of beans?

Well, today is an interesting day for the epoch timestamp. Friday, February 13 2009 at 23:31:30 GMT, the epoch timestamp will read 1234567890.

So how can you be sure that your UNIX (or windows machine) has accurate time? Well, if you have a SoftLayer server, you can simply point your ntp client to “servertime.service.softlayer.com”. This traffic then passes over the back-end private network, which has unlimited bandwidth, and you won’t consume your precious public-facing bandwidth to keep your server’s time accurate to within milliseconds. Just like every other NTP server on the internet, ours sync up constantly throughout the day with various atomic clocks around the world. You can’t get much more accurate than that, at least without having your own little chunk of the radioactive element cesium inside your computer. Incidentally, this is the same thing that makes your GPS system work. Hundreds of satellites overhead, which are basically nothing more than cesium clocks with transmitters that constantly broadcast the current time.

It’s just another one of those cool things that we do for our customers to help them get the most out of their server without having all the bare essentials stack up against their monthly bandwidth allocation.

Neat,huh?

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February 11, 2009

Road Trip to Austin (or D.C.) Anyone?

Other than following our CFO around with the metaphorical shovel (just kidding, Mr. Jones, just kidding), some of you may wonder what your legal counsel does in her office all day. (Actually, I often wonder that myself). Well, here’s a little matter that has been sucking an inordinate amount of time out of my day – SoftLayer received a letter from a solicitor in England accusing us of defamation related to a consumer protection website hosted by one of our U.S. clients. Apparently, some posters were indicating something to the effect that a certain company in England was made up of a bunch of con artists, blah, blah, blah.

In the U.S., we as the host are not liable for defamatory postings by third parties pursuant to the Communications Decency Act (the CDA, if you will, since we know lawyers and techies love their acronyms). But in the U.K., they have their own laws and they have no CDA immunity law. There, it is claimed, service providers may be liable if they are provided with notice of the alleged defamatory statement and fail to take it down or remove it. Arrrgh, what to do? U.K. company wants to sue us, client does not want to take it down (understandably so), because it is not violating any U.S. laws or regulations or our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). “Free speech, free speech,” the client cries. What is SL going to do? Throw another Boston tea party. We are going to let the British company either sue us or not in England and then dare them to try and enforce a judgment here in the U.S. A nice attorney, Mr. Paul Levy, at Public Citizen Litigation Group (www.citizen.org/litigation) has agreed to represent us here pro bono if that happens. Here’s his letter to the English solicitor on our behalf: http://www.citizen.org/documents/SoftLayerLetter.pdf

It turns out that the U.K. company’s strategy of trying to snag and sue us there has a name – “libel tourism.” This term refers to a plaintiff who “tours” or shops around for the most convenient forum to bring a libel or defamation claim. As you can see above, the U.K. is much more defamation friendly and free speech unfriendly than the U.S. So rather than bring an action in the U.S. where we and our client are located, let’s just sue in Britain.

To combat this unfairness New York State has passed a law called the “Libel Terrorism Protection Act” (not sure if the term “tourism” got lost in that bill somewhere, or if because it was based on an action brought by a Saudi businessman that it turned into “terrorism”). Basically this Act says that a foreign judgment related to defamation won’t be honored unless a New York court first determines that that country’s freedom of speech and press rights are at least as expansive as those allowed by the U.S. and NY state constitutions. Get it – New York would never allow a defamation action brought in the U.K. to be enforced. Victory for the service provider, victory for free speech and the American way of life!!!!

So why a road trip to Austin and/or D.C.? My students are so sharp today! Let’s get some state and national legislation that protects us from the harshness of other countries’ laws related to defamation which expose us to litigation or at least protects us from that proverbial rock and the hard place. Everyone asleep yet?

No. of times acronyms used: 19
No. of attorneys referenced: 3

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February 4, 2009

Brought to You by the Number “6”

Most of us may not realize, but over a decade ago, the Postal Service determined they are unable to assign addresses for every home and business anymore. You may not have even noticed that they began revoking unique addresses for individual postal customers. They replaced your address with a shared address, one that changes periodically and limits your ability to interact with postal customers all over the world.

Today, unbeknownst to you, when you send a package to your favorite receiver, they no longer receive it at their unique delivery location. It is first sent to a location that is shared by them and dozens (even hundreds) of nearby businesses, where someone reads the recipient’s name and delivers the package to the right location. In fact, because of a similar process in your neighborhood, that shipper couldn’t send you a package until after you sent one to them first. Even though their package has your name on it, the postal service just throws it in the trash because it has no record of you ever sending them something first.

Ok, enough of the fuzzy convoluted metaphor… I’m not talking about the postal service, rather the Internet.

Today there is a high probability that when you request a website from your browser, you are actually sending a request to a shared IP on a server that hosts several websites. The server must then look to see which site your request was for, and behave accordingly. Likewise, on your end of the connection, you are probably using a Network Address Translation (NAT) gateway, which permits you to have multiple computers on your network which all share one IP address on the Internet. This gateway won’t let anyone contact you unless you’ve contacted them first. On top of that, your IP address probably changes every few hours or days, and this makes it difficult to contact your computer remotely, even if you’ve set everything up to accept certain types of unsolicited connections.

Today’s Internet as we know it, has 4,294,967,296 IP addresses. This is called IPv4. This is not enough to populate everyone’s PDA telephone, computers in the home and office, every website and every network device with a unique and unchanging permanent address. Imagine, if you will, that your mobile phone number changed every few hours, and you could not receive a call without making one first.

As early as 1993, the engineers who are responsible for all the “magic arrows” under the hood of the Internet began discussing and constructing a plan to save ourselves from running out of internet addresses. They wanted to get this in place, of course, before we started putting IPs on everything such as our televisions, DVRs, refrigerators, toasters, cars, phones, etc. As of January 21st, SoftLayer made an important announcement. We are now delivering our customers the result over more than a decade of engineering work. Welcome to the “New Internet”, IPv6.

Why is IPv6 so much better? At the risk of sounding like I’m making a gross overstatement, we will never have to worry about IP address space again. Recall I told you that the Internet as we know it today has “only” 4,294,967,296 unique addresses. IPv6 has 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 (2^128) unique addresses. If you want to sound smart and confuse your colleagues, you can tell them that there are more than 340 undecillion IP addresses in IPv6. That’s a just a tiny bit more than 4 billion.

It’s been said there are enough bits in IPv6 that we could assign a unique IP address to every atom covering the surface of the earth, and still have enough left over to address every surface atom of 100+ more earths.

The default IP allocation for IPv6 users is a “/64” subnet. There are 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 IPs in a subnet this size. Yes, it’s a larger number… but it’s more complex than that. That number is equivalent to as many IPv4 networks as there are unique IPs in the IPv4 specification. That’s right. 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 / 4,294,967,296 = 4,294,967,296. Your default allocation is equivalent to 4 billion times the entire IP space of today’s IPv4 Internet.

Some readers may think, “That’s fine, but there have been IPv6 addresses in use for years, what makes SoftLayer’s offering so remarkable?” Well I’m glad you asked. Unlike traditional IPv6 allocations, which tunnel the IPv6 protocol over IPv4 to a location that can actually use IPv6, SoftLayer provides native IPv6 support to the Internet. There is no middle man. Your IPv6 traffic passes to the end user over the same superior network as any IPv4 packet in our datacenters.

Looks like a challenge to me. Who can be first to host 18 quintillion websites on their server?

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February 2, 2009

It’s OK to Let Go

There are a lot of companies that think they couldn’t possibly outsource their hosting needs to a third party. They make all kinds of excuses about why their particular organization cannot possibly move the servers more than 6ft from the sysadmin’s desk. I wanted to attempt to catalog the reasons most companies have, and explain why they’re just plain wrong.

We need direct access to the servers.

Why? So you can power cycle them in case they’re completely frozen? So you can re-install an OS on your own terms? So you can walk over to the rack and log in using a mouse and keyboard plugged directly into the machine? We can do all those things for you. Our power strip control and IPMI reboot can restart a server even if it’s completely locked up. Our standard KVM over IP means you can always have direct mouse and keyboard access to your system, and our automatic operating system installs mean you can switch from Windows to Unix at 4am on Christmas Eve and have your server ready to go before breakfast.

We need to be there in case something breaks.

Our datacenter techs will be there, 24/7, in case anything goes wrong. It’s infeasible to hire someone to sit in a server room with only 15 servers in it waiting for an alarm to go off. With the money you’re spending on 24/7 technicians to sit and do nothing, you could have multiple dedicated racks at SoftLayer with an entire team of specialists on the edges of their seats, waiting for something to go wrong so they can spring into action. In addition to just the human resources cost, you also have the spare parts cost. We have entire spare servers that we can use in the event of a complete and catastrophic meltdown. Some companies would have a hard time finding an extra SCSI controller or IPMI card; I doubt many medium-sized companies have the resources to keep spare machines handy.

It’s too expensive to outsource.

If this were true, this entire industry wouldn’t exist. I know it seems that the purchase price for your server is less over the course of a few years, when compared to the monthly rent of a similar SoftLayer server, but you’re forgetting the incidental charges. The amount of money you’re putting into your small datacenter every day in terms of cooling, electricity, and bandwidth has to add up. The cost of upgrades, repairs, and outages sneak up on you also. You also need to remember that you’re paying for the real-estate that your servers are in. Some companies can fit upwards of 100 people in the space their servers are taking up. Figure out how much you pay per month per square foot of office space, I bet the results will shock you.

You also have to put into the equation the cost of the firewalls, back-end networking, hardware monitoring, intrusion detection hardware, network storage, and all the other great features that come standard on SoftLayer servers. Not to mention the possibility of utilizing our CDN service, Load Balancers, virtual servers, transcoding services, and many more services we offer here. If you attempt to build yourself a world-class data center for just your servers, your costs will be far higher than if you had just let the experts handle it from the start.

We like having all the control.

Everyone likes control, which is why you rarely have to open a ticket to have work done on a SoftLayer machine. Unless your request involves a human being physically opening the case, most of what you want to do can be done through the portal. You can reconfigure any of our services through the portal. You can purchase and allocate additional IP addresses, and you can even purchase entire servers and add them to existing load balancers or virtual dedicated racks without contacting anyone. The control is still in your hands, it just reaches across the country.

Our data is too sensitive to be in a shared location.

The SoftLayer private network is just that, private. Not private as in “members only” but private as in “you and only you.” When a SoftLayer customer VPNs to the private network, he or she is actually logging in to a private set of network routes dedicated to their account. Only servers on their account are accessible from their VPN entry point. Their servers, likewise, can only see the other servers on that same account. Your servers can never get to the servers on another account through the private network. The only access between servers on different accounts is through the public internet, which is true regardless of where the servers are.

We’re too large for outsourcing.

Our CEO, Lance, may answer this with a simple “oh yeah? Bring it!” However, a more verbose rebuttal is probably needed. We have the infrastructure to handle whatever you can throw at us. We handled streaming video of the presidential inauguration, and we have tens of thousands of servers in multiple data centers in multiple cities. If you need 500 servers spread across the United States, place your order on SoftLayer.com and they will be ready within 4 hours.

We’re comfortable with the way things are.

You may be comfortable now, but are you sure you have every disaster plan covered? Why not allow us to worry about the hardware, power, network, bandwidth, cooling, spare parts, floor space, expandability, and availability requirements, you focus just on keeping the software running and keeping your data safe. Once you have your servers comfortably in our state of the art datacenter, you can start thinking about global expansion. Why not put a web server in all 3 of our locations? You can use geographically-sensitive DNS or global load balancing to serve customers using the closest physical server, all while maintaining a virtual rack of servers across datacenters. All the benefits of keeping your racks in the next office can be yours, with the addition of all our services and geographic diversity.

Our system administrator won’t let us.

I’ve actually heard this more than once. System administrators don’t actually have mystical powers. They work for you, and they enjoy having enough money to pay their bills. They’ll survive the transition.

No matter what size your company is, we have the know-how and the equipment to give you the data center of your dreams. Your servers will be safe, secure, and isolated just like in a private data center, but you will have access to all our additional features as well as having our highly skilled team of round-the-clock technicians to assist you at any time, day or night. Plus, you will probably get more service for less money, and free up significant floorspace in your office. It’s a win-win scenario, and you should jump on it, especially in the current economy. Reducing your IT budget to a set monthly bill instead of a yearly or multi-yearly mega-account will make things easier to budget as well as justify. The outsourcing of IT these days is as common as the outsourcing of power or water a hundred years ago. IT has become a commodity, and all you have to do is call or go to our website and tell us how much of it you’d like.

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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 29, 2009

The “Non-existent Unicorn” that was Softlayer

We all know that unicorns aren’t real; they are just the figment of someone’s imagination. Just like Michael Jordan’s basketball career started in his imagination, that’s how Softlayer started – in the imagination of ten guys. (I prefer hockey, but basketball fit this analogy better.)

It was weird watching when Softlayer first started up. It was just these ten guys working at Mr. Charnock ’s house. And then, slowly but surely, the company started growing. Once it started, it didn’t stop. In fact, it still hasn’t! (With the economy so bad that’s a miracle.)

Andrew was the first to join. Then came Jacob. The twelve guys moved in to an office space and bought the hardware to start selling servers. Even more people joined. Then Softlayer got its first customers and started to make money. All the hard work was starting to pay off. Now Softlayer’s office is huge. They have really cool data centers in Washington, D.C., Seattle and Dallas. (I’ve gotten to go inside the ones in Dallas and Seattle.)

Now Softlayer is one of the fastest growing web-hosting companies in the world, and like I said, it is still growing.

Now the “Unicorn” is Real.

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January 26, 2009

What Ever Happened To…

For over a decade IPv6 has been touted as the next generation protocol for the Internet. While IPv4 has served the public well since its inception, as early as 1990 it was clear that IPv4 simply didn’t have enough address space to keep up with the phenomenal growth of the web. So in 1994, the gurus got together and finalized IPv6. But solving a problem on paper, and rolling that solution out across the world-wide, publicly accessible series of interconnected computers known as the Internet, takes time. Despite the inevitability of IPv6, on the whole, only a handful of industry leaders are ready to deliver.

Which brings us to SoftLayer. If you follow web hosting news at all, you’ll know that here at SoftLayer we recently solidified our position on the technology forefront by announcing native IPv6 support across our entire array of data centers. If you’re interested in checking out the complete press release, you can find it here. If you are interested in knowing the nuts and bolts of IPv6, I’d recommend taking a look at the IPv6 information page found here. However, if like me, the real burning question on your mind is: “what ever happened to IPv5?” then look no further my friend. You’ve come to the right place.

Unfortunately, the answer is not nearly as exciting as the question. It seems that in the late seventies, an experimental protocol was developed for the internet community, and that this protocol (known as ST2), got dibs on the magical designator of the number five. ST2, like a lot of inventions in the computer industry, didn’t make it. So I thought as a tribute to IPv6’s fallen comrade, IPv5, I’d list a couple of other computing faux pas. Enjoy!

Apple III

Apple III

Designed as a business computer and the successor to the popular Apple II, the Apple III was a commercial disaster. With a starting price of over $4K, an operating system with the appropriate acronym SOS, and reports of the machine becoming so hot floppy disks would come out of the slot melted down to putty, the Apple III quickly found its way on the list of products discontinued by Apple Inc.

Atari 400

Atari 400

While the Atari 400 itself was not a total failure, it is best known today as the poster child for how NOT to design a keyboard. Marketed as a durable and spill resistant alternative, the flat, zero feedback, sealed ‘membrane’ keyboard was actually chosen by Atari execs because it was vastly less expensive to manufacture than a traditional keyboard. Not only was it nearly impossible to tell if a key had actually been depressed when typing without looking up at the screen, but the deadly ‘break’ key sat right near the often used backspace key. Hard not to feel sorry for anyone who had to peck out more than a command or two on this bad boy.

Windows ME

Windows ME

Rated 4th in PC World’s top 25 worst tech products of all time lists, the acronym was quickly redubbed around the world from the intended Millennium Edition to Mistake Edition. Users reported problems with installing it, getting it to run, getting it to work with hardware, getting it to work with software, and even getting it to stop running so they could go back and install an OS that did work!

Microsoft BOB

Microsoft BOB

Ever wish instead of a desktop interface you interacted with your computer via a big yellow smiley face? No? Apparently you are not alone--evident by the announcement and subsequent retraction of the 1995 software offering MS BOB. The idea behind BOB was to create a replacement for the Windows interface that would make computing more friendly for the everyday user. A noble idea but one implemented poorly. To date, MS BOB has been Microsoft’s most visible product failure.

Google X

Google X

Perhaps the shortest lived and most mysterious on my list is the Google X Site. Google X was nothing more than a search home page, styled after the Mac OS Dock from OS X. There was a quote on the bottom of the page that read: "Roses are red. Violets are blue. OS X rocks. Homage to you." Exactly one day after its release, Google pulled the page without sighting a reason. Could it be Apple copyright attorneys weren’t so flattered?

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January 24, 2009

When Is A Server Like A Puppy?

My wife gave me a pair of pups for my birthday, and I got to thinking about how having a pup/dog was like having a server…

Puppies

With puppies, you need to be very careful picking one out. Even if you get a pure bred dog, you still need to pay attention to its “personality.” When you are picking out a server, you need to know something about the company supporting it. Friendly folks are nice, but does that server tech know what he is doing, is he dedicated to doing it, and does he inspire confidence in you when he does it. At SoftLayer, the answer is yes.

As you “maintain” your puppy, it will grow and mature. Mine are going to be 100 pound beasts, so I am making sure to train them when they are small – this should insure the most amount of enjoyment out of them. When you are purchasing servers from SoftLayer, you can get any size to fit your needs, and when your requirements change, your dedicated servers can be changed to match – and quickly. Did you plan on one level of need and your business suddenly took off? No problem! You can get a second server in 1 – 4 hours and throw them both behind a load balancer in minutes.

I am fortunate in that I have a big backyard for my beasties, and I am careful to keep them up to date on all their shots. In a dedicated server, SoftLayer provides a safe environment in which you can administer your server (the private network accessible by VPN), and we make sure you have access to all the shots your servers need (ready to go, best practice software installs and vendor patches as they become available).

Dedicated servers may not be as fun as puppies (they don’t roll around, play with you or give you kisses), but they don’t chew your furniture, have “oopsies” on the floor or chase the cat… And at SoftLayer, if your server barks or cries in the middle of the night, you have dedicated Support staff to help you find out why – my puppies can’t tell me, and if I call the NOC they just laugh at me…

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