October 22, 2016

The future of SoftLayer is bright. And it’s Bluemix.

Since the founding of SoftLayer in May of 2005, our motto has been “Innovate or Die.” Over the past decade, our business has grown exponentially and evolved to meet the needs of our customers and seize opportunities in the marketplace. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Today, we’re excited to share the next big step in SoftLayer’s evolution as part of the IBM Cloud portfolio: IBM Bluemix is integrating SoftLayer products and services into its vast catalog of infrastructure, platform, and application services!

The SoftLayer products, services, tools, systems, and support you know and love will become a cornerstone of a unified Bluemix cloud experience that delivers the performance, flexibility, and consistency of SoftLayer infrastructure alongside the extensive catalog of cloud resources that include IBM Watson services, development runtimes, containers, database services, and more.

But enough of the fluff. What does this mean to you as a SoftLayer customer?

In the coming days, weeks, and months, you’ll start seeing “Bluemix” more and more where you’re used to seeing “SoftLayer.” Because the legacy SoftLayer offerings and legacy Bluemix offerings will be available from a unified cloud platform, we’re bringing them all under the Bluemix brand.

The most important thing to remember about this transition is that all of the SoftLayer systems, products, services, and support you know and love will remain in place as fundamental building blocks upon which the broader Bluemix catalog will be built.

Bluemix will be consistent with your SoftLayer experience:

  • For the next few months, all SoftLayer offerings will be available on both and—which means you can order identical products and services on either site, and they’ll be deployed in the same data centers and managed in the same systems.
  • You still have access the your SoftLayer control portal to manage your cloud infrastructure environment.
  • The support teams for all platforms will remain exactly the same.

While our team places a high priority on preserving the SoftLayer customer experience, the opportunities available as a result of this integration into Bluemix are what we’re most excited about:

  • The SoftLayer control portal has been integrated into the Bluemix console to allow for a single dashboard to manage infrastructure and cloud services.
  • By linking your SoftLayer account to a Bluemix account, you’ll receive one invoice for all of your infrastructure and services.
  • The full catalog of Bluemix products and services is available for you to integrate into your own apps and systems, letting you do what you do better and more efficiently.

You may have seen a service notification about the availability of IBMid single sign-on authentication for your SoftLayer account, and we’re happy to announce that customers have the ability to link SoftLayer and Bluemix accounts as well.

So, what can you do now?

Well, you can keep doing what you’ve always done—we were intentional about making that possible. But if you want to take a more proactive approach to learning about what the future of SoftLayer looks like in Bluemix, we recommend heading over to the Bluemix homepage so you can see how our infrastructure offerings—like bare metal servers, virtual servers, cloud storage, security, and network products—are integrated into Bluemix.

And while you’re there, you can learn about some of the cool things you can do with Bluemix, like:

  • Optimize campaigns in real-time based on customer reactions using Watson Personality Insights.
  • Improve outcomes with Watson Alchemy API and Retrieve and Rank paired with high performance bare metal servers.
  • Securely store, analyze, and process your big data using database services with Apache Spark.

As we transition SoftLayer fully into Bluemix, please follow us over to the IBM Bluemix Blog to keep up with the latest announcements, news, and product information about your Bluemix infrastructure.

Innovate or Die.


October 18, 2016

IBM Cloud Object Storage Open Trial Now Available

We're pleased to announce that our new Public Cloud Object Storage Standard Cross-Regional service is now available. Get started today with our Open Trial program and we’ll waive fees through December 31, 2016.

What you need to know about the IBM Cloud Object Storage S3 API (Open Trial)

Store and access your data with our resilient Standard Cross-Region Service for the U.S. geographic region. Get started today with our trial program, with fees waived through December 31, 2016. The service is open to all worldwide customers.

  • Order, access and manage via the SoftLayer customer portal
  • Create and manage buckets
  • Get credentials and endpoints for use with tools, applications, and gateways
  • Cross-region U.S. resiliency
  • S3 API support
  • Built-in security for data at rest

Today’s announcement of the Open Trial service gives customers the opportunity to harness the power of our new object storage technology without incurring any fees between the time of signup through December 31, 2016.

Learn more about our Standard Cross-Region Service

Take a look at our S3 API Open Trial documentation. The service is ideal for storing active data that requires frequent access and geographic resiliency with data durability across three regional data centers.

Your data is available through multiple endpoints across three geographic regions, helping ensure business continuity for use cases such as active content repositories, analytics, big data, and mission-critical data applications. Data can be accessed via our public and private network to meet your application needs.

Your data is safe, with built-in security for data at rest with our innovative SecureSlice technology that combines encryption, erasure coding, and data dispersal.

Cross region object storage

The service offers simplified capacity pricing with no separate fees for regional data centers within the cross-region zone. There are no separate charges for data replication across regions within a cross-region zone. Start with our Open Trial service and we will waive fees through December 31, 2016.

Standard Pricing for IBM Cloud Object Storage – S3 API with Standard Cross-Region

Get started today!

If you’re new to IBM Cloud, start here. If you’re a current SoftLayer customer, visit your Customer Control Panel, click on Order Storage, and select "Cloud Object Storage - S3 API (Open Trial)."

-Riz Amanuddin

IBM Cloud Object Storage Public Services-Offering Manager

October 13, 2016

Backup any Linux box on SoftLayer

The safest copy is an offline copy. In this article, we’ll cover how to backup entire partitions in Linux systems. It'll utilize the tar command in Softlayer's unique rescue environment and showcase the simplicity and flexibility of the process.

We begin by quickly identifying and becoming familiar with our filesystems.

1. Log into your server as the root user type: df -h

Log into your server as the root user type: df -h

2. Take note of the filesystem column and note the / mount has the filesystem /dev/sda2.

This is our root partition. Make note of it as it'll be needed once our system is in the rescue layer. Our rescue layer is our diagnostic layer where customers can troubleshoot and backup files.

3. Once you are sure you want to make backups of files, initiate the rescue layer. It will not wipe your data but it will reboot your server and unmount your existing partitions.

Follow these steps to initiate the rescue layer:

4. After you initiate rescue layer, wait five to six minutes for the rescue layer to finish loading. Then login to the server using SSH. You can find the rescue layer password by going into your Customer Portal ( Navigate from the Device tab to the Devices List. Select and click on your device name. Click the Passwords tab. Click on the asterisks to reveal your password.

5. Once you’re logged into the rescue layer, you’ll need to mount your partitions.

6. Now mount the root (/) partition in the rescue layer:

    mount /dev/sda2 /mnt

7. Then we’ll need to quickly mount the rest of the partitions under /mnt. You can do this by running the command below:

cat /mnt/etc/fstab | grep UUID | egrep -v 'swap|/ *ext' | awk -F= '{print $2" /mnt"$3}' | awk '{print $1" /mnt"$2}' | xargs -I {} echo mount -U {}

This results in mount commands to mount the rest of the filesystems. Simple, right? Be sure to save that command; it'll expedite your rescue layer troubleshooting next time.

This results in mount commands to mount the rest of the filesystems. Simple, right? Be sure to save that command; it'll expedite your rescue layer troubleshooting next time.

8. Triple left-click each line to select the full line, then right-click to paste and run that command to mount each partition.

9. If you want to see all your previously mounted filesystems, we can access them by chrooting as follows: chroot /mnt

  1. Browse to the main folder (aka root folder /):

    cd /

  2. Before we finish, make a backups folder to contain your backups:

    mkdir backups

Now make backups using the tar command in the compressed format tar.gz. To make backups using tar.gz, we’ll make a backup of a very common and important partition: /home

1. Browse to root:

    cd /

2. Run the following

    tar -pzcvf /backups/fullbackup.tar.gz --directory=/home --exclude=backups .


A quick explanation of the flags:

  • -p tells us to preserve file permissions
  • -z tells us to compress the files
  • -c tells us to create the tar.gz file
  • -v gives us visible output
  • -f lets us know the filename we're working with
  • -directory=/ tells us where the backups should start. Be sure to include the "." In the tar command as shown above.

It is always recommended that you test your backups to make sure they have the files you need and data's integrity is preserved. Once you've made the backup file, you can reboot the machine and download the file to restore it on another server.

3. To restore that file, upload it via SFTP to your root directory, then in SSH run the following:

    tar -pzxvf fullbackup.tar.gz -C /home

A quick explanation of the flags:  -c /home tells us to first browse to the /home directory and then begin to extract the .tar.gz file. By default, the restoration will overwrite any file with the same name. There are flags such as "--keep-old-files," which prevent you from replacing existing files on the disk, and "--keep-newer-files" when you don't want to replace newer existing files, e.g. tar -pzxvf fullbackup.tar.gz -C /home --keep-newer-files.



September 23, 2016

Deploy a new VMware environment in hours on IBM Cloud

Using advanced automation developed through the partnership between IBM and VMware, you can now go from weeks to hours in deploying a new VMware environment on IBM Cloud with two new offerings:

  • VMware Cloud Foundation™ on IBM Cloud: Allows you to deploy a natively integrated software-defined stack for compute, network, and storage, based on vSphere, NSX and VSAN, and architected to VMware Validated Designs. Read about them here.
  • VMware vCenter Server® on IBM Cloud: Provides a choice of flexible deployments of vSphere hypervisors managed by vCenter Server.

With these new offerings, IBM is providing new choices for you to preserve your investment in existing workloads and solutions while taking advantage of IBM Cloud’s global footprint and scale.

It is now easier to deploy and operate a seamless and consistent cloud that spans hybrid environments as you move your existing workloads to the cloud or create new ones. You can continue to use the same familiar tools and scripts to manage your workloads—all without having to retool or refactor your applications.

All of the above is available to you in the predictable, month-to-month, OPEX consumption model of SoftLayer, giving you total flexibility and freedom to control your expenses.

Take a quick look at how you can accelerate your move to hybrid cloud with IBM and VMware.

How easy is it to extend your VMware workloads to IBM Cloud? We'll explain.

Your future cloud begins here.



September 19, 2016

Speed up your WordPress with SoftLayer

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems available—lots of websites and blogs use it. But one of its biggest problems is speed. As users install plugins and add blog content, site speed decreases over time. There are many factors contributing to this, from PHP execution time, database load, CPU load, memory, and of course, website traffic. This, in turn, can lead to revenue loss, traffic bounce, and decreased conversions and click-throughs.

To combat these issues, the team at Prime Strategy created the Kusanagi Ready Project. Kusanagi is a compilation of images of server-side configurations that sets up the perfect environment for any WordPress installation. The images come with an easy-to-setup GUI that allows users to select multiple configurations, carefully prescreened for an optimized WordPress experience. The customized image not only benefits WordPress installations but your general site as well. You can select between Nginx or Apache. You can take advantage of PHP5, PHP7, or Facebook's ultra-fast HHVM PHP handlers and optionally add APCu or OPCache.

If that sounds interesting, you'll be excited to learn that the team at Prime Strategy compiled this on the latest centOS, centOS 7! Some of the few reasons why you'd want to try out Kusanagi include increased caching, optimized PHP handlers, and custom configurations for both Apache and Nginx, offering a stable OS with long-term support.

In tests conducted by the Kusanagi team using the ab benchmark, the optimized WordPress loaded an impressive 1,000 percent faster than a regular installation. Now that is performance! What's even better is that SoftLayer now offers Kusanagi images for our customers to order servers from. You can choose between monthly or hourly virtual servers and have blazing fast servers without wasting too much time at your fingertips.

The steps to deploy Kusanagi through SoftLayer can be found here.



August 29, 2016

Setting Up OpenVPN on a SoftLayer Vyatta Device

The following is a step-by-step guide on how to utilize your SoftLayer Vyatta gateway device as your own personal VPN to access any server behind the Vyatta device with even more freedom than the SoftLayer VPN. In the following example, we will be using the built-in OpenVPN daemon that comes installed with Vyatta. This means you can upload large files to your servers that are behind the Vyatta device using the speed of your public interface, rather than trying to depend on the SoftLayer VPN’s speeds—which are throttled for management, not file transfer. You will also have more control over how your VPN behaves, which subnets your users can access, how you manage your VMware environment, and more.

What we will review in the following guide, however, are just the basics. This will give you a basic level VPN working in client/server mode and using SSL keys as authentication rather than passwords.

What you will need for this guide

  • 1 Vyatta gateway device
  • 1 Windows 7/8/10 computer or 1 Apple device running OS X 10.10+
  • 1 portable private/28 subnet that is on a VLAN already associated and routed to your Vyatta (the smallest you can order is 16 portable private IPs from the portal)
  • A little patience

OpenVPN Client/Server Implementation

The first thing you’ll need to do is to copy the easy-rsa folder to your /config/.

cp -r /usr/share/easy-rsa/ /config/easy-rsa

Then you’ll need to edit the vars file to personalize your certificates.

nano –w /config/easy-rsa/vars


# Increase this to 2048 if you

# are paranoid.  This will slow

# down TLS negotiation performance

# as well as the one-time DH parms

# generation process.

export KEY_SIZE=2048


# In how many days should the root CA key expire?

export CA_EXPIRE=3650


# In how many days should certificates expire?

export KEY_EXPIRE=3650



export KEY_CITY="Houston"

export KEY_ORG="IBMCloud "

export KEY_EMAIL=""

Now you’ll need to load your variables from the vars file you just modified.

cd /config/easy-rsa

source ./vars

You’ll want to run the ./clean-all to start fresh in case there is something old lingering around in the directory.


Now build the certificate authority files. (Just press Enter to everything.)


Now build the Diffie-Hellman key exchange.


Now build the key file for the server. (Enter to everything again, enter password if asked, and Y to both questions.)

./build-key-server my-server

Next, you’ll need to copy the certificates and keys into the /config/auth/ folder.

sudo cp /config/easy-rsa/keys/ca.crt /config/auth/

sudo cp /config/easy-rsa/keys/dh2048.pem /config/auth/

sudo cp /config/easy-rsa/keys/my-server.key /config/auth/

sudo cp /config/easy-rsa/keys/my-server.crt /config/auth/

Now you can build the key for the client and distribute it to them. Use the ./build-key to generate a certificate that will connect to the VPN without a password, using an SSL key instead.

./build-key myname

Answer all questions accordingly and be sure to answer YES to sign the certificate and when it asks you to commit.

Now copy the keys and certificates and create a configuration for the client. First, you’ll need to make the directory for the client, though, for easier tracking.

cd /config/easy-rsa/keys

mkdir myname

cp myname* myname/

cp ca.crt myname/

Next, you’ll need to create a client config that you will be using on your local machine later.

nano –w myname/myvpnserver.ovpn


proto tcp

remote-cert-tls server


verb 2

dev tun0

cert myname.crt

key myname.key

ca ca.crt

remote 11994


From your local computer, you can download the config directory directly from your Vyatta.

scp –r vyatta@ .

This copies the client directory to the current directory on your local machine, so make sure you are in the directory you want to store the keys in.

Setting up the OpenVPN Server

The server subnet needs to be a different subnet from your LAN; for this example, we are using a portable private/28 (16 IPs on the 10.x.x. network), because it will assign an IP from that subnet to your clients as they login, giving them access to everything behind your Vyatta. You will also notice we are setting the resolvers to the SoftLayer DNS resolvers, as well as a Google DNS resolver. This ensures that your VPN-connected users still have full Internet access, as well as internal access.

You will also see that there is a push-route added for the other private subnets behind the Vyatta device. For this example, we wanted to give the users logged-in access to more than just the subnet from which it is assigning IPs. You will need to adjust the push-route lines to fit your environment, though. 

We will also be assigning a non-standard port of 11994, due to many ISPs blocking port 1194, and changing the protocol to TCP because UDP is also blocked in many places.

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 mode server

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 server subnet

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 server name-server

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 server push-route

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 server push-route

set service dns forwarding listen-on vtun0

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 tls cert-file /config/auth/my-server.crt

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 tls key-file /config/auth/my-server.key

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 tls ca-cert-file /config/auth/ca.crt

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 tls dh-file /config/auth/dh2048.pem

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 local-port 11994

set interfaces openvpn vtun0 protocol tcp-passive

Now that the interface is set, we just need to open the firewall for it (note: you will need to adjust for the firewall name that you use so that it applies correctly).

set firewall name wan-local rule 40 action accept

set firewall name wan-local rule 40 destination port openvpn

set firewall name wan-local rule 40 protocol tcp



That’s it! Your OpenVPN is set up on the Vyatta device. Now it’s time to install OpenVPN GUI on Windows or Tunnellblick on OS X.

Install either program as directed by the installer, then simply open the .ovpn file you downloaded earlier via scp with that program and it will connect. If you are on OS X, the default firewall will block ping requests from your Vyatta and a few other things. For my personal use, I used Murus Lite and loaded the Murus Predefined Configuration to make it work correctly.  Windows may need the Windows firewall adjusted to allow traffic to pass on TCP 11994 as well.

Congratulations! You now have a working OpenVPN setup connecting you to your SoftLayer environment. You can test it by pinging one of the servers behind your Vyatta on the private network.

If you need to create more than one client key, simply follow these steps.

source ./vars

./build-key newclient

cd /config/easy-rsa/keys

mkdir newclient

cp newclient* newclient/

cp ca.crt newclient/

Then run the same scp command from earlier (but fix the path to the newclient) and you're set!


August 23, 2016

Finally, Reset Your Own Password!

If you’re anything like me, you have more than 25 accounts, personal and business, with different passwords for most or all of them. You’ve probably even forgotten a password to some of them throughout the years. Would you believe that the average number of “password reset” emails per email account is around 37? Yes, 37! And what’s even worse than forgetting your password is having to contact someone to get your password changed. We were guilty of that—but not anymore!

Now at SoftLayer

We’ve implemented the Customer Password Reset Self-Service feature to the customer portal. This gives you even more control over your SoftLayer account.

Start using it today

If you need to reset your portal password, follow the secure, online self-service process. Additional authentication factors are required for portal login to apply the password reset functionality. These additional factors will be explained in instructions included in the password reset email you receive.

Password reset

Please note: In order for master users to reset their passwords, they still need to contact the SoftLayer Revenue Services team for additional account verification. Safety first!


August 18, 2016

Apache Hadoop and Big Data on IBM Cloud

Companies are producing massive amounts of data—otherwise known as big data. There are many options available to manage big data and the analytics associated with it. One of the more popular options is Apache Hadoop, an open source software designed to scale up and down quickly with a high degree of fault tolerance. Hadoop lets organizations gather and examine large amounts of structured and unstructured data.

In the past, large CAPEX and deployment costs made large big data or Hadoop clusters cost prohibitive. Cloud providers, like IBM Cloud, have made it possible to break through the cost barriers. The cloud model, with its utility-type billing and usage charges, makes it possible to build big data clusters, use them for a specific project, then tear them down. IBM Cloud is a great solution for this type of scenario and makes sense for those that require short term or project-based Hadoop clusters. Hadoop on IBM Cloud allows organizations to respond faster to changing business needs and requirements without the upfront CAPEX.

What makes Hadoop on IBM Cloud so compelling are the components that are available in the IBM Cloud offering. Customers have the ability to choose and use the same type of components and standards that they would use in their own data centers. These components include bare metal servers, private and unmetered private networks, and enterprise-grade block and object storage. IBM Cloud also offers GPUs for the most processor-intense big data workloads. Customers don’t have to settle for less when deploying their Hadoop clusters in IBM Cloud.

Hadoop on IBM Cloud supports multiple data centers in different regions across the globe. The diagram below provides the graphical layout of Hadoop clusters across multiple IBM Cloud data centers.

Hadoop clusters across multiple IBM Cloud data centers

For more information, contact your SoftLayer sales representative.

-Kevin McDade

August 12, 2016

How to Get More Than 8TB of Storage on SoftLayer VMs

“How do I get more than 8TB of storage on my virtual server?” This is a common question I'm asked when talking to potential SoftLayer customers and partners. There are two storage options from which you can choose when ordering a SoftLayer virtual server:

Local storage, which has a smaller maximum capacity of 25GB or 100GB as the first disk, and up to 300GB on the second disk. The maximum space limits are due to the storage being located on the host for the virtual server, which has limited space.

SAN storage, which comes in the same sizes for the first disk as local storage (25GB or 100GB). You can, however, have up to four additional disk drives at 2TB each, totaling up to 8TB.

So far, I’ve only laid out what you already know, but there is a way to get up to 12TB LUNs for your SoftLayer virtual servers by using one of our file or block storage classes: performance and endurance.


Performance is a class of SoftLayer block and file storage that is designed to support high I/O applications requiring predictable levels of performance. This predictable performance is achieved through the allocation of protocol-level IOPS to individual volumes. IOPS ranging from 100 through 6,000 can be provisioned with storage sizes that range from 20GB to 12TB. You select the appropriate storage size and IOPS required during provisioning.


Endurance is available in three IOPS performance tiers to support varying application needs. Note: Once provisioned, you cannot migrate between tiers.

  • 00.25 IOPS per GB: Designed for workloads with low I/O intensity. These workloads are typically characterized by having a large percentage of data inactive at a given time. Example applications include storing mailboxes or departmental level file shares.
  • 2 IOPS per GB: Designed for most general purpose usage. Example applications include hosting small databases backing web applications or virtual machine disk images for a hypervisor.
  • 4 IOPS per GB: Designed for higher-intensity workloads. These workloads are typically characterized by having a high percentage of data active at a given time. Example applications include transactional and other performance-sensitive databases.

The figure below illustrates how the virtual server will utilize the storage. You connect to the machine via the public network and pass through the firewall, which is provisioned separately. The storage is attached to the virtual server via the SoftLayer private network, meaning that storage can only be accessed through the virtual server that has been authorized to use it.

Endurance and performance storage classes on SoftLayer

You can find the provisioning guide for block and file storage here. Once your hosts are authorized, you can now connect the virtual server to your block or file storage class. Click here to connect block storage for Windows, here for block storage for Linux, and here for file storage on Linux.

-Kevin O’Shea



Subscribe to news