softlayer

April 9, 2008

Technology - 1 Day

Here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy!

6:10am – Alarm clock goes off. No, I don’t have one of the easy-wake "light up your room slowly" Hammacher Schlemmer alarm clocks. I have the old school buzzer that bounces you off the ceiling. I suppose this is old technology but no servers needed. No kudos here.

6:11am – After wiping the gritty stuff the sandman left in my eyes away, I reach for my Blackberry. We outsource our Blackberry server to our cell provider but it certainly sends me emails all night long and SMS messages, etc. All of that happens on a server somewhere in a datacenter somewhere. And you know what happens in the news when the Blackberry network is down. PANIC! So, here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that keeps them running!

7:00am – I hit the door and head out to the Echo. There is nothing cool about the Echo, trust me. No XM, Sirius, no Sync just good ole 103.3 sports talk with Mike and Mike. Go Cowboys! From 7am to 8am I am of course only doing two things, watching for the long arm of the law and Dryping. Along the way I pass through 3 tollbooths without even blinking because technology knows that I am there and have driven under it. RF technology is cool and if their servers were down they wouldn’t be able to charge my tolltag. Hmm….nevermind. Again, Here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that keeps me from having to sit in the pay a buck lane.

8:00am – I am at my desk finally! Where I login to my workstation that uses servers in the background to authenticate me. The same servers then run a few scripts and I have all my data and email at my fingertips. Servers keep working in the background to deliver my email to me and allow me to IM my peeps both in and outside of the company and also give me the very needed - internet access. Here’s to you, our internal nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy!

8:01am – The internet. I feel the need, the need for the internet. In the past I can say I was a junkie. I would just type in http://www.insertacoolwordheretoseeiftheyhaveawebsite.com/ kinda junkie. Sometimes you could find some pretty interesting sites using that trick and others it would just be someone domain parking. Now it is pretty much my bank, which has a ton of servers and technology (they even just rolled out two factor authentication), ESPN.com, our internal portal, webhostingtalk, theinnerlayer, the SoftLayer forums, facebook, and of course our website. Those pages keep me pretty satisfied during the day. So, here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that keeps them running!

8:02am – Wife calls me on my IP phone. Just to see if I am at work and what I am doing and to tell me that the dog is running in circles. She is at home with 2 kids (4 and 2) so she needs to talk to someone I guess. And you guessed it, the phone uses technology too. So, here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that keeps it ringing!

8:03am – Coffee, technology - yes – Servers NO! We need some coffee servers here. That is a great idea.

8:04am–11:45am – Open up about 57 different windows on my workstation and simultaneously work on all of them. If a server is down or a link is down somewhere I will know about it because I will not be able to do something…who knows what. So, here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that keeps the network pinging.

11:45am – Hunger pains, it’s time for lunch. Off to play some Racquetball and get a smoothie. I walk in the door and they scan my retina, wait, I mean they scan my key card and I am free to enter. If their servers or workstations were down I am sure that would be a bad day to work the front desk at a gym. Can you imagine all the "roid rage" when they turned people away. So I whip my brother (Gary) at Racquetball but you have read his blogs, did you really think he could beat me? When we were both much younger he did, then he found numbers and equations and forgot how to play. So, here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that make sure I get into the gym semi-daily.

12:30pm – Smoothie Time – Jamba Juice is right around the corner so I grab my smoothie and wheat grass shot and it’s back to the echo. I guess a juicer isn’t really cutting edge technology.

12:45pm – Back at my desk (on time as always … of course) and it is back to the 57 windows I have open and working. I tend to not go home until I have closed every window; that is the only way I can keep up with everything I am supposed to do. I have been officially titled the “heywWouldja guy” around here.

2:45pm – Time to head home. Ha! I’m just joking, gotchya.

6:45pm – I have now had enough technology for one day so it’s back into the echo to head home. The first light I come to, I don’t dare run (speaking of lights, without technology they tend to cause accidents and flash a lot, so there are definitely servers involved with them). It has one of those schnazzy new Red light cameras. That is $75 dollars I don’t want to hand them so they can add even more of those technological light cops to another light. Feel free to let these servers go down anytime guys…We are all on the same technical team here right?

7:45pm – Back at home. I walk in to the kids attempting to beat my scores on Guitar Hero and RockBand or playing on Xbox live, a wife cooking supper and a TV with Dish Network blaring. In the other room the 7 year old is listening to Miley Cyrus ..wait, maybe it is Hannah Montana not sure, on her cheapo wanna be Ipod. I sit down in front of the laptop that is on a wireless network and check my tickets and email one more time. Sometimes Dryping gets tough on the commute home because of all the traffic so I have to catch up. So, here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that keeps the Xbox cool and keep the cool games coming!

9:45pm – Kids are in bed, playing not sleeping, and I settle in to watch an on demand movie instead of having to traverse all the way back to Blockbuster or wait on the next Netflix movie to arrive. They look better in HD anyway. I am assuming that guys that can keep satellites in space are pretty technical. So, here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that keeps them flying!

Midnight – Set the non-technologically advanced alarm and pass out on the pillow.

So how much of that uses technology, servers, Datacenters, power, IP’s, DNS, etc etc. So, here’s to you, that nerdy IT Sysadmin smart guy that keeps that keep all of this stuff up and running with very little downtime. MY hat is off to you (because I look really funny in hats!)

-Skinman

Categories: 
April 7, 2008

Another Record SLales Day!

Well, we’ve done it again! Last week we had a record SLales day and a monumental achievement for Team Softlayer. We sold and fully delivered 208 servers last Monday breaking our previous record of 117 in a single day. There will be no official press releases about this or anything like that other than this blog, this is normal day to day operations here at Softlayer, or as I like to call it – Monday.

We are indeed making quite a dent in the hosting industry, who else out there can claim that they can accomplish this colossal achievement? We are growing at a massive rate here and all the while keeping the same high level of service that we have worked extraordinarily hard to earn and maintain.

We’ve come a long way since the opening of our doors 2 years ago. However we still have a long way to go. We have our Washington DC datacenter coming online in May to offer better service to our East Coast and European clients and we have integrated our new API 3.0 for our clients to have even more control over there servers and our services never before seen in the industry today. 2008 is going to be an astounding year for our clients as well as Softlayer.

We’ve come a long way, and we still have a long road ahead of us but in closing, our better is better than the competitions better.

-Michael

Categories: 
April 5, 2008

Top 10 Things to Do with a Dead Horse

Mike Jones and I recently attended a conference, and one of the keynote speakers was Vijay Govindarajan from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. His presentation on business strategy encouraged us to 1) Manage the present, 2) Selectively forget the past, and 3) Create the future.

His main point of emphasis was to be sure that we did not focus so much on the present that we lose touch or else when the future arrives, we’re left behind. Along those lines, he mentioned that there may be some "dead horses" at present in your business. By a dead horse, he means a line of business that at present is declining. So what do you do about these dead horses? A la David Letterman, he gave us a Top 10 List that I’ll pass along to you.

10. Whip the horse a little harder
9. Change the rider
8. Harness several dead horses together for increased speed
7. Emulate the best practices of companies riding dead horses
6. Proclaim that it’s cheaper to feed a dead horse
5. Affirm that "This is the way we have always ridden this horse."
4. Declare that "This horse is not dead."
3. Have the lawyers bring suit against the horse manufacturer
2. Engage a consultant to study the dead horse

And number 1, Promote the dead horse to a senior management position.

At SoftLayer, we try to be all about creating the future. Whether it’s opening up our API’s or adding new features to our portal or opening new geographically diverse data centers or leveraging our geographic diversity to roll out new products and services, we have the future in mind. Yes, you’ll see some new wrinkles once our Virginia data center goes live in a few short weeks. We promise to keep any dead horses from stinking up the place.

-Gary

Categories: 
April 3, 2008

Lemonade Stands in an Internet Age

To borrow a phrase from my favorite movie from the time period in question… a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... budding entrepreneurs had a few options for starting a business. Our options back then were pretty simple:

  • Newspaper Route
  • Collecting Pop bottles – if you don’t remember bottles made out of glass, don’t worry about trying to understand this one.
  • Lemonade Stand

Lucky for me, I grew up in a family business and did not have to worry about starting a business since I had one already – I was head dishwasher! Aside from that, my biggest concern was what bait to use to catch the bass that hid under the dock near our restaurant and when the parking lot would empty out so we could play baseball under the street lights. Of course, I did wash my share of dishes and bus an equal share of tables over a 13 year period. Still, life was pretty simple back then. Comics were $0.25, a pack of gum was $0.10, and you could go to a movie and have a drink and popcorn for about $3.00. A former colleague of mine would fondly refer to these as the salad days. But, times have changed… a movie is easily $20 and I am not sure any comics exist under $3.00. There are also very different “start-up” options available to the current generation of 10 year old entrepreneurs. Mom and Dad may still be out there shuttling kids around in the rain to deliver newspapers, or carving up and decorating an old box to sell lemonade (I did that too, but that was to raise money for Jerry’s Kids) to people wandering past a sidewalk-based store front, but I doubt it. I can’t in fact remember the last time that I saw anyone undertaking such a venture. Instead, it seems that this generation has fully grasped the value of the Internet. Whether it is our youngest blog contributor, or our youngest customer – a 13 year old web host who’s Mom did her part by setting up a PayPal account for him to run his new business. Not to be outdone, we have a slightly older generation of entrepreneurs that have taken inspiration from a number of areas, including turning hobbies into viable businesses. Take a look at www.mmoguildsites.com as an example.

The mantra at SoftLayer has always been to enable business through innovation and by empowering the customer with our delivery of Serverless IT to businesses everywhere. But, I am not sure that any of us ever envisioned the impact that this approach and vision would have. Who knows, we might be helping to stimulate the ideas that could lead to the next Microsoft, Google, or Apple.

So, here’s to entrepreneurial spirit at any age! And if you are one of those young entrepreneurs out there, best of luck and please continue to create new ideas. We are all relying on you. SoftLayer will continue to do its part to help you make your ideas real.

-@gkdog

April 1, 2008

Chantilly Race

Here is the much anticipated Song of the Year. So to keep up with new DC openings and doing a blog about it, I felt I had to attempt to out do Sleepless in Seattle. I believe with a little help from Dave we have done just that! Enjoy!

Chantilly Race! (To the Tune of Chantilly Lace by The Big Bopper)
Lyrics by: Skinman
Produced by: Stringtapper Productions
Vocals by: Dave Huff

And for even more excitement, check out the music video.

-Skinman

March 27, 2008

Fist Bumps!!

In response to the recent SLales blog entry in reference to high fives, I wanted to take a moment to clarify the position of C-Level and VP level personnel and the use of High-Fives here at SoftLayer. Being a technology company that is constantly in search of the next innovation, we believe that a natural progression has occurred from the more legacy high-five to the more refined Fist Bump. If you don't know what a Fist Bump is – just catch the latest episode of "Deal or No Deal" and you will see Howie Mandel and his Fist Bump maneuver. If you are not a fan of the show, think back to your childhood days of the Wonder Twins. When that dynamic duo sought to bring about Water and Animal shapes, there was always the obligatory "Fist Bump" to initiate the process. Although not a new concept by any means, we believe the next generation Fist Bump is a far superior form of adulation for the following reasons;

  1. The Fist in itself represent power – it's the most aggressive form in which the hand can be manipulated
  2. The force in which the fists bump can speak volumes in reference to the level of excitement
  3. Fist Bumps can be performed repeatedly with numerous other individuals without a stinging sensation
  4. Fist Bumps can be performed in meetings, on phone calls and around cube corners without direct line of sight
  5. Fist Bumps don't make that "slappy" sound that tends to annoy unrelated third parties
  6. Fist Bumps do not require an individual to "go high" – Fist Bumps can be performed at low, standard and high grades
  7. Fist Bumps do not spread the "SamF's" during cold and flu season
  8. Fist Bumps can be personalized – example – two bumps and roll
  9. Fist Bumps seem to be understood and appreciated by young and old alike
  10. A proper Fist Bump is simply more elegant and invigorating then even the wildest of High-Fives

So, here I sit thinking about the lack of Fist Bump deployments and maybe it resides in the fact that we don't have a virtual Fist Bump like Mary's High Five symbol. So, without further a due, I give you the Virtual Fist Bump - III!

As anyone can plainly see, if you looked at the end of your clenched fist, you would see four fingers with a tucked thumb. That is easily represented as III! with the little dot representing the tucked thumb. So listen up SLales – a new form of celebration is acceptable here at SoftLayer. High-Fives and Fist Bumps abound!! Let's celebrate SoftLayer's Success!!

Now if we can just teach Doug how to Fist Bump without turning it into a game of bloody knuckles from the third grade.

-@lavosby

March 26, 2008

.llli

It looks like nonsense to you, but it means OH SO MUCH more to the members of SLales.

".llli" is the international SoftLayer Sales symbol for *high five*, invoked when major deals are closed, or when hilarious jokes are made over the cube walls.
Here’s how it works: the period is the thumb, the three lower case Ls are the index, middle and ring finger, and the lower case I is the pinky. See it?

SoftLayer Sales are the big mouths of the company - we are louder, more boisterous and more interactive with our teammates than most of the other office departments, so high-fiving is pretty much a standard mode of communication. (I don’t think it hurts that pretty much everyone on the sales team was in a frat/sorority in college.)

Not everyone loves the high-five, though. When there’s a .llli session going on in the sales area, most others steer clear. When a potential high-fiver (read: Douglas Jackson) is hired, part of the training documentation includes a list of C-titles and VPs who you should not attempt to high five. Doug seems to specialize in getting people to high-five, knowing that they don’t want to.

Just another peek into the world in which we live. Come on sales chat sometime and give us a high five. Or make it a double:
illl. .llli

-Mary

March 24, 2008

I Want to Be Your Agent!

Professional athletes have them. Doctors have them. Lawyers have them. Chefs have them. Movie Directors have them. Writers have them. NASCAR drivers have them too.

Are you lost yet? Wondering what this has to do with hosting or small businesses? It's really very simple. Let's dig into a few of them.

Athletes - most are very good at what they do, hit the ball, kick the ball, throw the ball, shoot the ball, swing the club, etc. They are so busy learning to be the best at their trade that they don't have time for the business side of their business. What do they do? They outsource that to an agent. Jerry Maguire might be the SoftLayer of agents. The best, the top of the line, the cutting edge, like us. He gets what the players want and more and was a master at customer service. The players don't mind giving part of their hard earned cash to him because of the benefit they get from him. It is a very symbiotic relationship.

Doctors - they are paid to fix people. They have to keep up with the latest threats to our health and the ways to fix us. They have almost continuous education to worry about and don't have time to worry about the office, and the bills, and whether they are getting timely insurance payments, etc. They are there to do whatever they can to help their patients. What do they do? They outsource to an office manager who takes care of the day-to-day tasks that a doctor just doesn't have time for and frankly shouldn't have to worry about. It's really just another form of outsourcing.

Chefs - this one is interesting because I am going to make the assumption that the chef owns the restaurant. I agree that many times there are restaurants that hire chefs, but the argument goes both ways. Let's say you want to open a restaurant but you can't cook. You outsource to a chef. To turn it around, a chef can cook but wants his own restaurant. He is a master at cooking and has studied in culinary schools for years to become a great chef. What does he do about running the place? He outsources to a restaurant manager. The manager takes care of HR, and guest services, and the chef does what he loves - cooks.

So where does this leave you? Are you an individual who knows (insert what you know here) and have studied it for years and you are the worlds expert on it? Are you a small business owner who is looking for ways to make the hours of the day last longer and find that competitive edge? Are you that IT manager who has hit the technology roadblock and your company doesn't have the large capital for the things you need to continue to scale your infrastructure? If you are then you need to consider hiring an agent of your very own. SoftLayer can be your technology agent and allow you to focus on what you do best!

-Skinman

P.S. Lance is the greatest CEO EVER! Now pay up! (Worth a shot, right?)

Categories: 
March 18, 2008

The Children Speak

My name is Jonathan. I’m 10 years old and I play hockey.

My dad is the CFO for SoftLayer. At first I had no idea what my dad did. Now I think it’s cool how he works for a company that sells servers to people who can use them all over the world.

I have been to the datacenter in Dallas and my dad took me to see the one in Seattle on our way back from a hockey tournament. I think it’s cool how people get the Internet on a server that’s 2 feet long. All the power in it is amazing!

One day I am going to be a mechanical engineer. I’ll design server racks and datacenters for SoftLayer that will be more efficient and eco-friendly to help the environment. They will hold more servers so they can sell more and make more money.

One day I hope SoftLayer will grow so big that everyone will have access to a SoftLayer server.

Lance said if I wrote in my blog that he was the greatest CEO ever, he would give me $50. Lance, you are the greatest CEO ever. Fork over the dough.

-Jonathan Jones

Categories: 
March 14, 2008

From the Outside Looking In

Recently, as you know, SoftLayer released the new API version 3. We have all been working very hard on it, and we've been completely immersed in it for weeks (months, for some of us). This means that, for the developers, we've been living and breathing API code for quite some time now. The time came to release the API, and as many of you know, it was a smashing success. However, we were lacking in examples for its use. Sure, we all had examples coming out our ears since the customer portal itself uses the API, but those were written by the same developers that developed the API itself, and therefore were still written from an insider's perspective.

So a call went out for examples. Many people jumped on the list, offering to write examples in a variety of languages. I thought I would tackle writing an API usage example in Perl. Perl, for those of you unfamiliar, is an infamous programming language. Flexible, confusing, fantastic and horrifying, it is the very embodiment of both "quick and dirty" and "elegance." It is well loved and well loathed in equal measure by the programming community. Nevertheless, I have some experience with Perl, and I decided to give it a try.

I will attempt to describe my thought process as I developed the small applications (which you should be able to locate shortly in the SLDN documentation wiki) throughout the work day.

9am: "Wow, I really don't remember as much Perl as I thought. This may be difficult."
10am: "I need to install SOAP::Lite, that shouldn't be hard."
11am: "Where the heck are they hiding SOAP::Lite? There are articles about it everywhere, but I can't actually find it or get it installed!"
12pm: "Ok, got SOAP::Lite installed, and my first test application works perfectly! Things are going to be ok! Wait…what's all this about authentication headers?"
1pm: "What have I done to deserve this? Why can't I pass my user information through to the API?"
2pm: "Aha! Another developer just wandered by and pointed out that I've been misspelling 'authentication' for 2 hours! Back on track, baby!" (Side note: another "feature" of Perl is how it never complains when you use variables that don't exist, it just assumes you never meant to type that. Of course, you could tell it to complain, but I forgot about that feature because I haven't used Perl in 4 years.)
3pm: I finally get example #1 working. It queries the API and shows a list of the hardware on your account.
3:30pm: Example #2 working, this shows the details for a single server, including datacenter and operating system
4pm: Combining examples #1 and #2, the third example shows all hardware on your account, plus the installed OS and datacenter, in a handy grid right on the command line. Success! I put Perl away, hopefully for another 4 years.

The whole experience, though, really gave me an insight into how fantastically awesome the API is. I was looking at it from an outsider's perspective. I was confused as to how everything worked, I was working with an unfamiliar language, and I was browsing through the API looking for anything that looked "cool and/or useful." Getting a list of all my account's hardware to show up in a custom built application that I wrote as if I knew nothing about the API was a great feeling. It showed that not only was the API perfectly suited to the tasks we expected of it, but even a novice developer could, with a little effort, make an API application like mine. Expanding on it to show more and more information, and all the possibilities that it opened up in my mind made me realize how useful this API is that we made. It's not just something that a small percentage of our customers will be using. It's something that is truly revolutionary, and that all clients can take advantage of. I'm assuming, of course, that all clients have at least rudimentary skill in at least one programming language, but given the level of success everyone has had with our other offerings, I can assume that assumption is accurate.

If you have been thinking recently "look at all the noise they've been making about this 'API' nonsense," I highly recommend dusting off an old programming book and at least looking at it once. Think of all the possibilities, all the custom reports that you can make for yourself, all the data that we have provided right at your fingertips to assemble in any way you wish. We try our best to make the portal useful to every customer, but we know that you can't please all the people all the time. But with the API, we may do just that. If you're the kind of customer that is only interested in outbound bandwidth by domain, write an API script that displays just that! If you want to know the current number of connections and CPU temperature of your load balanced servers, get that data and show it! The possibilities are endless, and we're improving the API all the time.

-Daniel

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