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 ( has agreed to represent us here pro bono if that happens. Here’s his letter to the English solicitor on our behalf:

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

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?

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 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.

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”.

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.

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?

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…


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…

January 22, 2009


So unless you are not a gamer or have been under a rock for the last 4 years, you have heard of World of Warcraft. Wow for short. Wow is one of those online role playing games where you can puttz around if you want or you can work with others in a team effort to down huge dungeon bosses in instances. At the start of Wow the end all, be all instances were 40-man raids. Just like it sounds like 40 people would get together in a raid and try to make their way to these dungeon bosses and kill them for various prizes.

Once I reached the appropriate level and started doing these instances, it became quite clear on the general make up of these groups. It was usually two very different types of "Raiders."

The first type is the core people. These were the guys who knew what they were doing. Usually in leadership positions or at least were competent enough that you did not have to manage them. They were trusted enough to know what to do and when to do it. When something new came up, they were the ones with ideas on how to tackle it. These were the ones who carried the raid.

The second type is the fillers. Generally these people didn't pay attention, always had to be told to stay on point, and basically to do their job. They were trying to hide in the cracks to get a free ride. These were the ones whose mistakes made something simple become overly complex or outright impossible. If you could not have them in the raid, you wouldn't.

Then the first expansion to Wow came out. Basically more content was added, the level cap was raised, and a lot of cool stories were introduced. One thing that didn't go unnoticed was the group limit of the new raid instances. They were now 10-man or 25-man, no more 40-man instances. This changed the dynamic completely. As you guessed it the fillers were the first to go in any group. If you didn't pull your weight you were kicked from the group. The learning curve became steeper as these new leaner, more agile groups, plowed through game content. If you were terrible you would eventually find yourself on the outside with a bad reputation. As anyone can tell you reps have a way of following you around no matter where you go.

After seeing this I realized SoftLayer was living in the new world. The people who formed SoftLayer knew they had to be lean, agile, and quick to adapt to what is going on in front and around them. If not they would be left on the outside. Not only were we living in the new world we live the new world. This philosophy/culture reverberates though out SoftLayer. The people here just know what needs to be done. Direction is given and the ideas go flying on how to get it done. No one here hides in the cracks trying to go unnoticed. Everyone brings something to the table.

A little while ago I heard a rumor that there was another hosting company out there that does as much as we do...but has 40 times as many people to do it...Probably just a rumor.

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.

January 16, 2009

Wizard Needs Food Badly... Wizard is About to Die.

Anyone familiar with arcade games from the 80s would recognize that line. It's from the arcade game Gauntlet, which was also featured on the NES and had a number of sequels on other systems. Wizard was always about to die, because Wizard was a big wimp. For those of you unfamiliar with Gauntlet in particular, it was one of the first games that allowed you to keep playing as long as you kept shoving your hard-earned quarters into the slot. In essence, Gauntlet was the first electronic subscription based service. You keep playing as long as you keep paying. However, Gauntlet never seemed to keep a customer for longer than about 20 minutes. Maybe that's because your characters went through health like a Hummer goes through gasoline...but I digress.

Since Gauntlet, the subscription based service model has really improved. SoftLayer employs it, as you know. However, unlike Gauntlet, we charge by the month. This is a key distinction. Whereas Gauntlet was always trying to kill you to get another quarter, SoftLayer focuses on protecting you. We do everything we can to make sure that your experience is a happy one, and that you are never "about to die." To that end we employ several awesome features to both improve your experience as a customer, and to ensure your servers' safety.

Some of the features that I think are the coolest are the ones that work passively in the background without user intervention. They just exist, sitting there and making SoftLayer the best place to have a server. For instance, our private network is always there, always on, ready for our customers to use. From secure server management to private file transfers and backup, the private network is one of our most awesome features, and everyone gets it immediately. It's always there, ready for you to use for your needs.

Our TippingPoint protection is another great feature that runs constantly in the background. If you are a current customer, you can look under "Public Network" for the "network ids" section to view the attacks on your servers in the last 24 hours. Scary stuff, huh? At the time of this writing, our TippingPoint servers have successfully blocked more than 200,000 attacks in the last 24 hours against our three data centers in Dallas, Seattle, and Washington DC. The internet is a dangerous place, but the SoftLayer network is insulated against the port scanners, botnets, and various other malicious activity.

There are other systems we have in place that customers never notice. We have redundant power supplies, multiple internet links, and 24/7 staff in place specifically so that the customer won't notice when something has gone awry. These systems, while very "active" from our perspective, run in the background as far as customers are concerned, constantly ensuring that the servers stay awake, cool, and dry.

In addition to these (and many more) passive features keeping you safe, there's also active features. We have firewalls, DDOS protection, and load balancers you can configure to make sure your servers stay up. If they go down, we have cross-datacenter backup solutions, monitoring servers, and portable IP addresses to make sure your downtime is as short as possible. Whatever could cause your server harm, we're trying to help you avoid it. In the case where it was unavoidable, we offer a multitude of solutions to minimize downtime and recover from disaster.

So if you're currently pumping quarters into something that's actively trying to kill you, why not save up and get a SoftLayer server for a month. We'll protect you.



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