Funny Posts

March 7, 2012

"That Cloudamajigger Thing"

At my house, we share a single iTunes account because as much as I hate to admit it ... I listen to the same music as my 11-year-old on occasion, so why buy the same music twice? I have my iPhone setup to automatically sync via any wireless connection, so I occasionally get new apps when someone else in the house downloads something.

Last week, my 8-year-old handed me his iPod and said, "Dad, can you enter the password so I can install BloodnGuns?" No way. He went through three or four reasons that he thought he needed the game, and I just went about my business. A couple of minutes later, he hands me the iPod again and says, "Dad, can you enter the password so I can install Temple Run?" Being a much tamer game, I said I would, but (knowing my son) I followed that up by saying, "Just remember: Anything you install goes to my iPhone, too." If I entered the password for him for Temple Run, he would be authenticated and could then get BloodnGuns, so I just wanted to remind him that I was born at night, not last night.

The sneaky little guy looked up to me and grinned, "Oh yea, 'cuz of that cloudamajigger thing."

Once I finished laughing, I asked him what he meant by Cloudamajigger, and before he could answer, I told him to wait ... I wanted to document how he would describe "The Cloud." With two other kids at home, I thought it might be an interesting focus group of the way kids are learning about technology, so I made it a family project.

I asked each of them three questions and told them to email their answers to me"

  1. What is "The Cloud?"
  2. Where does "The Cloud" live?
  3. What is SoftLayer?

Here are the responses:

The 6-year-old

  1. The cloud shoots out a ball and the cloud is awesome!
  2. In the sky. It is made out of water.
  3. Where dad works, I think he makes monitors.

The 8-year-old

  1. It's a cloud in the sky and they shot a satellite in it. And they could see all the things you need to see on the internet.
  2. See number 1 (Yes, he really typed that).
  3. Where dad works, he works to make the Internet, and the Internet makes him work.

The 11-year-old

  1. It is a group of people where when you post something everyone will be able to see it.
  2. I don't know.
  3. A company.

You can see that the 11-year-old is darn close to those wonderful teenage years with that loquacious participation ... Wish me luck!

I ask these same questions of people at conferences I attend and get generally the same answers as above. We can write reams of descriptions of the cloud, but in my world, it's simply "The Cloudamajigger Thing."

How would you answer those three questions?

-@Skinman454

February 7, 2012

Social Media Exclusive: Bobblehead Bonus

SoftLayer has a unique culture. As SLayers, we get company-inspired tattoos, we outfit ourselves (and our families) in SoftLayer gear, we take part in goofy videos, and every now and then, someone gets a shower of 10,000 bouncy balls.

Our company culture is no accident; it has grown organically from the day SoftLayer was born, and the executive management team has been instrumental in showing that it's okay to have fun when you're at work ... and the company's phenomenal growth speaks to that philosophy's success. The latest example of tomfoolery came in the form of customized bobbleheads of many of members on the SoftLayer management team:

SoftLayer BobbleheadSoftLayer BobbleheadSoftLayer BobbleheadSoftLayer BobbleheadSoftLayer Bobblehead
 

Because we happened to have ten extra sets of these bobbleheads, we thought some of our customers might enjoy building a collection of their very own. If you places a new order in the next few months and you're one of the first ten SoftLayer customers to email your order information to the social media team at twitter@softlayer.com, we'll send you that month's "Bobblehead Bonus":

  • February 2012 - Lance Crosby, Chief Executive Officer
  • March 2012 - Tom Blair, Senior Vice President Global Sales
  • April 2012 - Nathan Day, Chief Scientist
  • May 2012 - Duke Skarda, Chief Technology Officer
  • June 2012 - Sam Flietman, Chief Operating Officer
  • July 2012 - George Karidis, Chief Strategy Offcier

To keep everyone on the same page, here are the "official rules":

  1. One Bobblehead Bonus per SoftLayer account per month.
  2. Order must be placed in the same month the bobblehead is requested.
  3. Bobblehead Bonus request email must be sent to twitter@softlayer.com and it must include your SoftLayer account number, order number and the shipping address you'd like us to use.
  4. The bobbleheads will be awarded on a first-emailed, first served basis.
  5. Only 10 bobbleheads are available each month.

If the set I have in my office window is any indication, having a complete SoftLayer bobblehead collection will make you the envy of all of your friends and coworkers. The idea behind this fun little giveaway is to reward you for being an engaged, loyal SoftLayer customer.

Let's be honest ... You've probably been on the fence about ordering a new cloud instance or dedicated server, so what more do you need to hear than "Free SoftLayer Bobblehead" to get you to pull the trigger?

-@khazard

P.S. We've also got a few bobbleheads earmarked for employees who contribute to the SoftLayer Blog. If you're a SLayer and you want your own set of bobbleheads, you better start writing!

January 13, 2012

The Challenge of Conveying Culture

Last week, Cracked.com ran an article about "9 Quirky Things Every 'Cool' Workplace Is Required to Have." The post points out several seemingly trite characteristics of "trendy" and "fun" companies, and SoftLayer was one of the companies the author used to illustrate her point about quirky conference room names. The "obscure inside jokes" we chose as the naming convention for our conference rooms in our Dallas headquarters inspired this fantastic analogy:

I'm sure visiting vendors and consultants enjoy as much as adults enjoy hearing a gaggle of teenage girls joke about which one of them is the craaaziest.

The post's mock homage to "fun company culture" as seen by outsiders got me thinking ... Why do I think SoftLayer is such a cool place to work, and how could I talk about that in a way that didn't seem hokey or insincere? Given the cynicism of the Internet in general, it may be impossible to execute, so I realize that all I can do is give my honest take on why I enjoy coming to work every day:

SoftLayer's culture is defined authentically and organically by our people, traditions and stories.

I agree that red walls, orange couches and scooters in an office do not create a cool workplace, and I don't think our "obscure inside joke" conference room names make us cool either. When we moved to our new headquarters in Dallas, every employee at the company was encouraged to submit ideas for what we should name the rooms, and after voting on dozens of great ideas, the "inside joke" submission from SoftLayer General Council Suzy Fulton ended up winning (and Suzy was awarded an iPad for submitting the winning idea). The reason her naming convention won is what makes SoftLayer a great place to work: Each name gives a different piece of the overall story that explains, "This is who we are, what we do and where we come from."

Take our conference room named Muenster for example. Muenster is a small town in Texas where the annual GermanFest is held. The 3 Bars BBQ team breaks out their secret recipes to compete with other BBQ teams from around the state, and the coworkers that don't don aprons get to kick back and eat some awesome BBQ, enjoy a drink (or two... or three...) and have a great time. The event has been such a fun tradition that we wanted to incorporate it into our new office for the days we're not eating brisket fresh off the grill. It means something to SoftLayer as a company, and if vendors/consultants coming into the office don't appreciate it in the same way, we're pretty sure we'll survive. Naming conference rooms to the least common denominator would sure be functional, but in practice, it would be (ironically) "outside the box" for SoftLayer.

We're just group of people (with a few inside jokes) working together to create the best hosting experience in the business. We value both customers and employees. We like startups (because we were a startup a few short years ago), innovation, automation and BBQ. We have fun together, and as a result, we have plenty of stories to tell (and more obscure inside jokes to use for our next conference rooms).

Oh, and we're also "guilty" of having a few red accent walls, employees riding around on scooters (and Segways), Nerf guns, foam rockets, and foosball tables in our offices. If that means getting mentioned in the same (mocking) breath as Facebook, Yahoo!, Zappos and Twitter, we're in a pretty good spot.

-Summer

December 27, 2011

186,282.4 Miles Per Second

Let's say there are 2495 miles separating me and the world's foremost authority on orthopedics who lives in Vancouver, Canada. If I needed some medical advice for how to remove a screwdriver from the palm of my hand that was the result of a a Christmas toy with "some assembly required," I'd be pretty happy I live in the year 2011. Here are a few of the communication methods that I may have settled with in years past:

On Foot: The average human walks 3.5 mph sustainable. Using this method it would take a messenger 29.7 days to get a description of the problem and a drawing of the damage to that doctor if the messenger walked non-stop. Because the doctor in this theoretical scenario is the only person on the planet who knows how to perform the screwdriver removal surgery, the doctor would have to accompany the messenger back to Texas, and I am fairly sure by the time they arrived, they'd have to visit a grave with a terrible epitaph like "He got screwed," or they'd find me answering to a crass nickname like "Stumpy."

On Horseback: The average speed of a galloping horse is around 30 mph sustainable, so with the help of a couple equestrian friends, the message could reach the doctor in 3.5 days if the horse were to run the whole journey without stopping, the doctor could saddle up and hit the trail back to Houston, getting here in about 7 days. In that span of time, I'd only be able to wave to him with one hand, given the inevitable amputation.

Via High-Speed Rail: With an average speed of 101 mph, it would take a mere 24.7 hour to get from Houston to Vancouver, so if this means of communication were the only one used, I could have the doctor at my bedside in a little over 48 hours. That turnaround time might mean my hand would be saved, but the delay would still yield a terrible headache and a lot of embarrassment ... Seeing as how a screwdriver in your hand is relatively noticeable at Christmas parties.

Via Commercial Flight: If the message was taken by plane and the doctor returned by plane, the round trip would be around 12.4 hours at an average rate of 400 mph ... I'd only have to endure half a day of mockery.

Via E-mail: With the multimedia capabilities of email, the doctor could be sent a picture of the damage instantly and a surgeon in Houston could be instructed on how to best save my hand. There would be little delay, but there are no guarantees that the stand-in surgeon would be able to correctly execute on the instructions given by this theoretical world's only orthopedic surgeon.

Via Video Chat: In milliseconds, a video connection could be made between the stand-in surgeon and the orthopedic specialist. The specialist could watch and instruct the stand-in surgeon on how to complete the surgery, and I'd be using both hands again by Christmas morning. Technology is also getting to a point where the specialist could perform parts of the surgery remotely ... Let's just hope they use a good network connection on both end since any latency would be pretty significant.

I started thinking about the amazing speed with which we access information when I met with CTO Duke Skarda. He gave a few examples of our customers that piqued his interested, given to the innovative nature of their business, and one in particular made me realize how far we've come when I considered the availability and speed of our access to information:

The company facilitated advertisements on the Internet by customizing the advertising experience to each visitor by auctioning off ad space to companies that fit that particular visitor's profile. In the simplest sense, a website has a blank area for an advertisment, the site sends non-sensitive information about the visitor to an advertising network. The advertising network then distributes that information to multiple advertisers who process it, generate targeted ads and place a bid to "purchase" the space for that visitor. The winner of the auction is determined, and the winner's ad would be populated on the website.

All of this is done in under a second, before the visitor even knows the process took place.

We live in a time of instant access. We are only limited by the speed of light, a blazing 186,282.4 miles/second. That means you could, theoretically, send a message around the world in .03 milliseconds. Businesses use this speed to create and market products and services to the global market, I can't wait to see what tomorrow holds ... Maybe some kind of technology that prevents screwdrivers from piercing hands?

-Clayton

Categories: 
December 25, 2011

SoftLayer's 12 Days of Christmas

If you're just joining us, you may have missed our remixes of "SoftLayer is Coming to Town" and "Go Tell it on the Mountain" ... Both of which would be flying off the shelves these days (if our blog had shelves). In an effort to fill up some more space on a SoftLayer-only Christmas CD (and of course help rocket ourselves to a Bieber-level of fame), we've re-written the lyrics to The Twelve Days of Christmas and added a touch of SL style.

Given the festiveness of the season, we couldn't just post the lyrics for this song, so I walked around our Dallas office to capture a few SLayers delivering each one of the lines. When you click the play button, keep an eye/ear out to pinpoint which of our very own SLayers is a trained opera singer.

As our present to you, please enjoy SoftLayer's 12 Days of Christmas:

If you want to sing along, we have the lyrics below for each day ... If you know the format of the song, it can be pretty repetitive, so I'll just give you the list from the twelfth day and you can read from the bottom as the video is playing:

SoftLayer's 12 Days of Christmas (Twelfth Day)

On the twelfth day of Christmas, SoftLayer gave to me:
Twelve sticks of RAM,
Eleven CCIs,
Ten Gig connections,
Nine feet of cable,
Eight IP addresses,
Seven extra hard drives,
Six disk partitions,
Five-minute cloud provisioning,
Four hypervisor options,
Three network layers,
Two SSDs,
And a server chassis customized for me!

Thank you to all of the SLayers who participated in this video and we hope you had as many laughs watching this as we did filming. :-)

Merry Christmas!

-Summer

Categories: 
December 19, 2011

SoftLayer Shopping List

With the holidays upon us, this can be a very hectic time of year. Whether you are the type to brave the shopping mall for your holiday purchases or you do all your shopping from your easy chair over the Internet, gift giving has become one of the more traditional activities during the Christmas season.

It seems that my shopping list gets bigger and bigger each year. At the beginning of every holiday season, I sit down and compose a list of people for whom I will be buying gifts. I then determine the best place to find each item. The next step is to determine whether I will be purchasing what that person needs or what that person wants. If I am shopping for my spouse, I usually get her something she needs. I hate to admit it, but if I am shopping for myself, I usually get something I want.

Another important aspect of holiday shopping is staying within my budget. When I am shopping for someone I hardly see, their gift will be purchased with a small amount of money. When I budget for a family member or someone very close to me, I spend a lot of money on them (and I try to not splurge too much).

Another fun part of shopping is getting it all done as early as possible so I can enjoy the rest of the holiday season. This relieves me from worrying about what I'm going to get "so-and-so" in time for the holiday? Once I've completed my shopping, then comes the hard part: Wrapping the gifts. My wrapping skills would probably put me in the "novice" category, so if I can get the gifts professionally wrapped at the department store, I'm happy to put down a few extra dollars to avoid the awkward, "Did you wrap this in the dark?" questions.

One of my favorite parts of the gift-giving tradition is watching the recipient open their gift. Even if I don't receive anything in return, it brings me joy to see that they enjoy it. It's pretty clear that I'm in the camp that believes it's more blessed to give than it is to receive ... That's probably why I tend to spend more money during the holiday season than I do throughout the entire year on weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions.

If you've listened to the radio at all in the past month or so, you've probably heard of the "The Twelve Days of Christmas" playing about a few dozen times per day. It lists twelve things your true love gives to you. Next Sunday, you're going to get a final holiday-related video with a few folks from the SoftLayer team singing our own little version of the song, but I thought I'd share twelve things you can add to your SoftLayer shopping cart for to make your server faster and your job a lot easier.

  1. QuanataStor Storage Server
  2. CloudLayer Storage
  3. CloudLayer Content Delivery Network
  4. Managed Hosting Services
  5. Hardware Upgrade
  6. Network Services Upgrade
  7. Evault Backup Services
  8. Virtual Racks
  9. Citrix Netscaler
  10. Advanced Monitoring Service
  11. Email Delivery Service
  12. Add Virtual Computing with CCIs

Here is to wishing you a very happy holiday season!

-Greg

December 6, 2011

Go, Tell it on the Mountain

Because SoftLayer is now a global hosting company and the holidays are upon us, I thought I'd tweak another Christmas classic with some SoftLayer-specific content ... We're going to need a few more tracks to add to SoftLayer is Coming to Town if we hope to compile an album that'll compete with Justin Bieber.

Go, Tell it on the Mountain

While SLayers kept their watching
O'er customer servers by night,
Another DC opened,
and SoftLayer's now worldwide.

Go, tell it on Facebook
Over on Reddit and everywhere
Go, tell it on LinkedIn
That SoftLayer hosts your site!

Our competitors feared and trembled
When lo! around the earth
Rang out the three bars chorus
That hailed of SoftLayer's worth.

Go, tell it on Facebook
Over on Reddit and everywhere
Go, tell it on LinkedIn
That SoftLayer hosts your site!

From in a lowly basement
Our humble business came;
Innovation and Automation
Would change the hosting game.

Go, tell it on Facebook
Over on Reddit and everywhere
Go, tell it on LinkedIn
That SoftLayer hosts your site!

Before I was a SLayer
I searched both day and night
For a company that was perfect,
And SoftLayer turned out right.

Go, tell it on Facebook
Over on Reddit and everywhere
Go, tell it on LinkedIn
That SoftLayer hosts your site!

I was made a SLayer
A few short years ago,
And since I joined SoftLayer
I've seen us really grow, sooooo...

Go, tell it on Facebook
Over on Reddit and everywhere
Go, tell it on LinkedIn
That SoftLayer hosts your site!

If you sing this carol in front of the house of one of our 26,000+ customers, I can almost guarantee that you'll be invited in for hot chocolate ... Or they'll think you're a crazy stalker because you know about their hosting provider, and they'll call the police.

Either way, thanks for "listening"!

-Natalie

November 28, 2011

Brisket and BYOC

With all of the cooking and eating going on around Thanksgiving, Summer's Truffle Mac and Cheese blog inspired me to think back on any of the "expertise" I can provide for SoftLayer customers in the kitchen. One of the first things my mother taught me to cook was brisket. While it might not be as exotic as 3 Bars Barbeque, it's pretty easy to make. Everyone who tastes it sings its praises and thinks it took forever to prepare, and while it does have to cook in the oven for about four hours, there are only five ingredients, so the "preparation" time is actually only around ten minutes. Since it's not exactly a family secret, I don't think I'll get into any trouble for sharing it:

Easy-To-Make Brisket Ingredients

  • 1 Brisket - I'd recommend having the majority (not all) of the fat trimmed off at the store
  • 2 1/2 Cups of Ketchup - Buy the largest ketchup bottle and plan on using a little more than half
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Water
  • 1 Packet of Onion Soup Mix
  • 1 Can of Tomato Paste (Optional, adds flavor)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Mix all of the non-brisket ingredients and pour them on top of the brisket in a large roaster (one with a lid would be preferable)
  3. Make sure the entire brisket is covered. Pick it up to get your other ingredients underneath.
  4. Pop it into the oven for four hours at 300 degrees.
  5. Take it out, let it cool, and enjoy!

That's the basic, original recipe, but I've found a few ways to make it juicier along the way. One tip is to pull the brisket from the oven after about three and a half hours and slice it against the grain. If you have an electric knife, this is the perfect chance to use it, and if you don't, this could be an excuse to get one. Put the brisket back in the roaster for another half hour, and you'll love the results. Because ovens differ, just make sure it's moist before you take it out to serve.

At this point, you're probably asking yourself what a brisket recipe has to do with SoftLayer. If you've used our Build Your Own Cloud wizard, you might already see the similarity: You can put something together that seems dauntingly time consuming quickly and without breaking a sweat ... And the end result is amazing. There are a few simple steps to making an impressive brisket, and it takes a few clicks to build a customized cloud instance with all the benefits of SoftLayer's global network and support.

Too often, selecting a cloud instance involves more limitations than it does choices, so we wanted to make sure the BYOC service enabled customers the granularity to choose CPU, RAM, and storage configurations on newer, more powerful servers than our competition. Just like my tweak of the original recipe, we want customers to have the ability to tweak their cloud platform to provide the best application performance, cost efficiency, and availability for their specific needs.

If this blog left you hungry, you've got everything you need to make an amazing brisket. If you don't have the ingredients (or the four hours) you need to make one now, you can try the quicker BYOC recipe:

SoftLayer Cloud Ordering Ingredients

  • The device you're using to read this blog.
  • A list of what you want on your cloud instance.

Instructions

  1. Visit SoftLayer's Build Your Own Cloud page.
  2. Select the options you want and submit your order.
  3. Start using your custom cloud instance in less than 20 minutes!

Happy Building! :-)

-Rachel

Categories: 
November 24, 2011

Summer's Specialty: Truffle Mac and Cheese

Over half my time this year has been spent traveling around the US, Canada and Europe where I've shared the SoftLayer story with hundreds (if not thousands) of people. Since most of our trade shows are outside of the Dallas area, I frequently call a hotel room "home," so I really cherish my actual home. One of my favorite things to do while I am home is spend quality time in the kitchen with my husband and our mischievous 2 year old chocolate lab (who is usually close by waiting for food to fall off the counter), and in honor of Thanksgiving Day today, I thought I'd share a quick recipe for you if you're frantically looking for a dish to bring to a turkey day party.

Anyone that knows me well will tell you that I am not the greatest cook, but one thing I do make well is truffle mac and cheese. Since one of the goals on the SoftLayer Blog is to share the culture and expertise of our employees (and given the holiday timing), I thought my expertise in this area would be particularly valuable.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. dried macaroni pasta
  • 2 1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. White truffle oil — Though I usually use more ... I am not–so-secretly obsessed with this stuff!
  • 1/3 cup garlic bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Cook macaroni noodles in a pan according to directions on the container.
  2. Add the unsalted butter to a separate saucepan over medium heat until the butter begins to foam (constantly stir to make sure the butter does not burn).
  3. Add the flour to the foaming butter and stir for about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Carefully pour in the milk, whisking constantly until all the milk has been added. The sauce should begin to thicken. Make sure to whisk out any lumps. This should take around 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and begin to add in 2 cups of shredded Swiss cheese. Mix this until the cheese has completely melted.
  6. Add truffle oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Drain the water from the cooked macaroni noodles and add the cheese sauce to the noodles. Mix until the cheese has coated the noodles.
  8. Place the mac and cheese in a baking dish. Sprinkle the last 1/4 cup of shredded Swiss cheese and your 1/3 cup of garlic bread crumbs over the top.
  9. Place the dish in the oven on a high broil until the top is crispy and golden brown.

When you take it out of the oven and let it cool, you can load it into your car and whisk it away to your get-together to amaze all of your friends and family ... If you can manage to keep yourself from eating it on the way.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Summer

November 8, 2011

PHIL's DC: SoftLayer Data Center Tour

When I was chosen by Lance to manage a "special project," I knew I had my work cut out for me. My mission is to redefine how data centers are built, so before I get too far in the creation of my data center facility, I thought it would be a good idea to get a quick refresher about how SoftLayer builds and runs its data centers:

You can disregard the references to Lance "requiring" me to go on the tour ... and the formality of Jon having to sign a note that said I successfully completed the tour. The references to those were just for dramatic effect since Lance and I are pretty much eye-to-eye about everything that needs to happen for PHIL's DC to succeed, and we both thought it would be good to have signed documentation that I went on a tour.

As I mentioned at the end of the tour, I didn't find the tour to be a complete waste of time because I was able to observe some of the biggest hurdles in building and maintaining a data center. Is redundancy really necessary ... or is it just redundant? What the heck did Jon say in the UPS room? How fast does a person have to run on a single treadmill for that treadmill to power 40,000 servers?

While I try to source my own "PHIL's DC" rack identifiers, my adoring public can take time to go through this video with a fine-toothed comb to suggest any potential data center innovations that you think I may have overlooked. I already have the most innovative and efficient data center designed in my head, but I'll consider crediting you if you share an idea ... even if (and by if, I mean "when") I've already thought of it.

I've got a hot lead on some slightly used hardware, so the next time you see me, the PHIL's DC inventory area should be fully stocked and ready for my own truck day.

-PHIL

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