August 12, 2015

Network Performance 101: What is latency, and why does it matter?

We’ve all been there. Waiting for a web page to load can be so frustrating that we end up just closing out. You might ask yourself, “Hey, I have high-speed Internet. Why is this happening to me?” Well, there are a lot of factors outside your control that … control page loads. And whether you have an online store, run big data solutions, or have your employees set up on a network accessing files around the world, you never want to hear that your data, consumer products, information, or otherwise, is keeping you from a sale or slowing down employee productivity because of slow data transfer.

So why are some pages so much slower to load than others?
It could be that poorly written code or large images are slowing the load on the backend, but slow page loads can also be caused by network latency. This might sound elementary, but data is not just floating out there in some non-physical Internet space. In reality, data is stored on hard drives … somewhere. Network connectivity provides a path for that data to travel to end users around the world, and that connectivity can vary significantly—depending on how far it’s going, how many times the data has to hop between service providers, how much bandwidth is available along the way, the other data traveling across the same path, and a number of other variables.

The measurement of how quickly data travels between two connected points is called network latency. Network latency is an expression of the amount of time it takes a packet of data to get from one place to another.

Understanding Network Latency
Theoretically, data can travel at the speed of light across optical fiber network cables, but in practice, data typically travels slower than light due to the variables we referenced in the previous section. If a network connection doesn’t have any available bandwidth capacity, data might temporarily queue up to wait for its turn to travel across the line. If a service provider’s network doesn’t route a network path optimally, data could be sent hundreds or thousands of miles away from the destination in the process of routing to the destination. These kinds of delays and detours lead to higher network latency, which lead to slower page loads and download speeds.

We express network latency in milliseconds (that’s 1,000 milliseconds per second), and while a few thousandths of a second may not mean much to us as we’re living our daily lives, those milliseconds are often the deciding factors for whether we stay on a webpage or give up and try another site. As consumers of high-speed Internet, we like what we like, and we want what we want when we want it. In the financial sector, milliseconds can mean billions of dollars in gains or losses from trade transactions on a day-to-day basis.

Logical conclusion: Everyone wants the lowest network latency to the greatest number of users.

Common Approaches to Minimize Network Latency
If our shared goal is to minimize latency for our data, the most common approaches to addressing network latency involve limiting the number of potential variables that can impact the speed of data’s movement. While we don’t have complete control over how our data travels across the Internet, we can do a few things to keep our network latency in line:

  • Distribute data around the world: Users in different locations can pull data from a location that’s geographically close to them. Because the data is closer to the users, it is handed off fewer times, it has a shorter distance to travel, and inefficient routing is less likely to cause a significant performance impact.
  • Provision servers with high-capacity network ports: Huge volumes of data can travel to and from the server every second. If packets are delayed due to fully saturated ports, milliseconds of time pass, pages load slower, download speeds drop, and users get unhappy.
  • Understand how your providers route traffic: When you know how your data is transferred to users around the world, you can make better decisions about where you host your data.

How SoftLayer Minimizes Network Latency
To minimize latency, we took a unique approach to building our network. All of our data centers are connected to network points of presence. All of our network points of presence are connected to each other via our global backbone network. And by maintaining our own global backbone network, our network operations team is able to control network paths and data handoffs much more granularly than if we relied on other providers to move data between geographies.

SoftLayer Private Network

For example, if a user in Berlin wants to watch a cat video hosted on a SoftLayer server in Dallas, the packets of data that make up that cat video will travel across our backbone network (which is exclusively used by SoftLayer traffic) to Frankfurt, where the packets would be handed off to one of our peering or transit public network partners to get to the user in Berlin.

Without a global backbone network, the packets would be handed off to a peering or transit public network provider in Dallas, and that provider would route the packets across its network and/or hand the packets off to another provider at a network hop, and the packets would bounce their way to Germany. It’s entirely possible that the packets could get from Dallas to Berlin with the same network latency with or without the global backbone network, but without the global backbone network, there are a lot more variables.

In addition to building a global backbone network, we also segment public, private, and management traffic onto different network ports so that different types of traffic can be transferred without interfering with each other.

SoftLayer Private Network

But at the end of the day, all of that network planning and forethought doesn’t amount to a hill of beans if you can’t see the results for yourself. That’s why we put speed tests on our website so you can check out our network yourself (for more on speed tests, check out this blog post).

TL;DR: Network Latency
Your users want your data as quickly as you can get it to them. The time it takes for your data to get to them across the Internet is called network latency. The more control you (or your provider) have over your data’s network path, the more consistent (and lower) your network latency will be.

Stay tuned. Next month we will be discussing Network Performance 101: Security, where we’ll discuss all things cloud security—including answering your burning questions: Can other people see or access my data in a public cloud? Is my data more prone to hackers? And, what safeguards do SoftLayer have in place to protect data?

-JRL

August 11, 2015

The SLayer Standard Vol. 1, No. 14

The week in review. All the IBM Cloud and SoftLayer headlines in one place.

We’re revving the IBM Cloud engine.
How is SoftLayer helping IBM’s cloud grow? Ed Scannell explores this in a new TechTarget article. He says many of the latest successes are “attributed to the IBM cloud unit's ability to respond faster to market opportunities, along with the ability to build corporate data centers significantly faster than IGS via SoftLayer.”

It’s time to turn to the cloud.
Across the industry, companies are seeing legacy software decreases. In a recent CBR article, James Nunns says he believes the solution could be in the cloud, and he highlights some of the transitions that IBM is making. Steve Robinson, IBM’s general manager of cloud platform services, says, "Today's rapid app development cycles require developers to use new tools and methodologies from across the ecosystem to quickly turn new ideas into enterprise-class cloud applications at consumer scale and innovate at the speed of cloud."

A case for both private and public cloud.
Are you still writing a pros and cons list to compare private and public cloud? It’s time to put the list away. IBMer Philip Guido explains, “Over the next five years, both public and private clouds are expected to grow at the exact same compound annual growth rate.” One thing to remember is that the choice of cloud model is “largely predicated by the business conditions of the industry a company is operating in.”

-Rachel

Categories: 
July 27, 2015

The SLayer Standard Vol. 1, No. 13

The week in review. All the IBM Cloud and SoftLayer headlines in one place.

Growing Strong For Two Years
What has happened in the two years since SoftLayer joined forces with IBM? In a word: growth. Growth in several areas was spotlighted by 451 Research report. The article noted that SoftLayer is “no longer just an IaaS offer, but the foundation on which IBM is building strategic products. IBM Bluemix PaaS, data services and multiple SaaS offerings all run atop SoftLayer infrastructure.”

Welcome to The IBM Family
We’re excited to welcome Compose into our growing IBM brood. The acquisition was announced last week, but what does it bring the IBM family? Fortune highlights the company’s ability to “attract a new flock of web and mobile developers” to IBM, while offering up “lightweight database services based on MongoDB, Redis, Elasticsearch, PostgreSQL, RethinkDB and other databases.”

We’re Happy to Work With You
Core insurance technology software and IT services provider, Majesco, chose the IBM Cloud platform for its entire suite of property and casualty insurance software products to customers in a public cloud. In a write-up by IBR, Majesco’s COO Ed Ossie said, “Working with IBM will help insurers transform their business with a modern core solution that can be deployed on a proven and tested environment.”

A Chip Off The Old Block
IBM has designed the world’s smallest chip with the help of GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Samsung. Squint a bit and you might be able to see the 7 nm (yes, that’s a nanometer) chip that is the future of microprocessing.

In a statement, IBM called this new technology “crucial to meeting the anticipated demands of future cloud computing and Big Data systems, cognitive computing, mobile products, and other emerging technologies.”

-Rachel

Categories: 
July 14, 2015

Preventative Maintenance and Backups

Has your cPanel server ever gone down only to not come back online because the disk failed?

At SoftLayer, data migration is in the hands of our customers. That means you must save your data and move it to a new server. Well, thanks to a lot of slow weekends, I’ve had time to write a bash script that automates the process for you. It’s been tested in a dev environment of my own working with the data center to simulate the dreaded DRS (data retention service) when a drive fails and in a live environment to see what new curveballs could happen. In this three-part series, we’ll discuss how to do server preventative maintenance to prevent a total disaster, how to restore your backed up data (if you have backups), and finally we’ll go over the script itself to fully automate a process to backup, move, and restore all of your cPanel data safely (if the prior two aren’t options for you).

Let’s start off with some preventative maintenance first and work on setting up backups in WHM itself.

First thing you’ll need to do is log into your WHM, and then go to Home >> Backup >> Backup Configuration. You will probably have an information box at the top that says “The legacy backups system is currently disabled;” that’s fine, let it stay disabled. The legacy backup system is going away soon anyway, and the newer system allows for more customization. If you haven’t clicked “Enable” under the Global Settings, now would be the time to do so, so that the rest of the page becomes visible. Now, you should be able to modify the rest of the backup configuration, so let’s start with the type.

In my personal opinion, compressed is the only way to go. Yes, it takes longer, but uses less disk space in the end. Uncompressed uses up too much space, but it’s faster. Incremental is also not a good choice, as it only allows for one backup and it does not allow for users to include additional destinations.

The next section is scheduling and retention, and, personally, I like my backups done daily with a five-day retention plan. Yes it does use up a bit more space, but it’s also the safest because you’ll have backups from literally the day prior in case something happens.

The next section, Files, is where you will pick the users you want to backup along with what type of data you want to include. I prefer to just leave the defaulted settings here in this section and only choose my users that I want to backup instead. It’s your server though, so you’re free to enable/disable the various options as you see fit. I would definitely leave the options for backing up system files checked though as it is highly recommended to keep that option checked.

The next section deals with databases, and again, this one’s up to you. Per Account is your bare minimum option and is still safe regardless. Entire MySQL directory will just blanket backup the entire MySQL directory instead. The last option encompasses the two prior options, which to me is a bit overkill as the Per Account Only option works well enough on its own.

Now let’s start the actual configuration of the backup service. From here, we’ll choose the backup directory as well as a few other options regarding the retention and additional destinations. The best practice here is to have a drive specifically for backups, and not just another partition or a folder, but a completely separate drive. Wherever you want the backups to reside, type that path in the box. I usually have a secondary drive mounted as /backup to put them in so the pre-filled option works fine for me. The option for mounting the drive as needed should be enabled if you have a separate mount point that is not always mounted. As for the additional destination part, that’s up to you if you want to make backups of your backups. This will allow you to keep backups of the backups offsite somewhere else just in case your server decides to divide by zero or some other random issue that causes everything to go down without being recoverable. Clicking the “Create New Destination” option will bring up a new section to fill in all the data relevant to what you chose.

Once you’ve done all of this, simply click “Save Configuration.” Now you’re done!

But let’s say you’re ready to make a full backup right now instead of waiting for it to automatically run. For this, we’ll need to log in to the server via SSH and run a certain command instead. Using whatever SSH tool you prefer, PuTTY for me, connect to your server using the root username and password that you used to log into WHM. From there, we will run one simple command to backup everything - “/usr/local/cpanel/bin/backup --force” ← This will force a full backup of every user that you selected earlier when you configured the backup in WHM.

That’s pretty much it as far as preventative maintenance and backups go. Next time, we’ll go into how to restore all this content to a new drive in case something happens like someone accidentally deleting a database or a file that they really need back.

-Shawn

July 10, 2015

GPU Accelerated Supercomputing Comes to IBM’s SoftLayer Cloud Service

NVIDIA GPU technology powers some of the world’s fastest supercomputers. In fact, GPU technology is at the heart of the current #1 U.S. system, Titan, located at Oak Ridge National Labs. It will also be an important part of Titan’s forthcoming successor, Summit, an advanced new supercomputer based on next-generation, ultra-high performance GPU-accelerated OpenPOWER servers.

But, not everyone has access to these monster machines for their high-performance computing, deep learning, and scientific computing work. That’s why NVIDIA is working with IBM to make supercomputing-class technology more accessible to reserachers, engineers, developers, and other HPC users.

IBM Cloud announced earlier this week that NVIDIA Tesla K80 dual-GPU accelerators are now available on SoftLayer bare metal cloud servers. The team worked closely together to test and tune the speedy delivery of NVIDIA Tesla K80 enabled servers. The Tesla K80 GPU accelerators are the flagship technology of our Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform, delivering 10 times higher performance than today’s fastest CPU for a range of deep learning, data analytics and HPC applications.

Bringing Tesla K80 GPUs to SoftLayer means that more researchers and engineers worldwide will have access to ultra-high computing resources – without having to deal with the cost and time commitment of purchasing and maintaining their own HPC clusters. On-demand high performance computing can now be delivered in a matter of hours instead of the weeks or months it takes to build and deploy a dedicated system. Never before has bare-metal compute infrastructure been so agile. Fully populated Tesla K80 GPU nodes can be provisioned and used in two to four hours. Then, they can be de-provisioned or reassigned just as quickly.

With support for GPU accelerators, SoftLayer is providing full-scale data center resources for users to build a compute cluster, burst an existing cluster, or launch a compute intensive project—all on easy to use, cost effective, and easily accessible cloud infrastructure.

The strength of SoftLayer’s API and the experience of IBM Cloud make it easy for users to provision and reclaim resources to enable true cloud bursting for compute clusters, and controlling resources is key to controlling costs.

We’re delighted to expand the reach of GPU-accelerated computing broader than ever before. For more info on IBM Cloud’s GPU offerings on SoftLayer or to sign up, visit www.softlayer.com/gpu.

-Michael

Michael O’Neill is an established leader for NVIDIA. He provides specialized strategic thought leadership and technical guidance to customers on NVIDIA GRID and Tesla GPUs in virtualized environments. He works closely with business leaders to develop innovative solutions for graphical and compute heavy workloads. With over twenty years of experience in planning, developing, and implementing state of the art information systems, he has built a significant body of work empowering people to live, work and collaborate from anywhere on any device. His guidance has provided Fortune 500 companies with cloud computing solutions to help IT and service providers build private, hybrid and public clouds to deliver high-performance, elastic and cost-effective services for mobile workstyles.

Categories: 
July 7, 2015

All Aboard The SoftLayer Startup Train!

This year, SoftLayer partnered with ThreeFortyNine, a co-working space in Guelph, Ontario, to offer founders, funders, and anyone else heading to Montreal’s International Startup Festival an amazing first class ride on the SoftLayer Startup Train.

I sat down with Brydon Gilliss, the founder of ThreeFortyNine, to learn more about the experience.

Now in its fourth year, the Startup Train is quickly becoming an institution for entrepreneurs, funders, and professionals traveling from Toronto to the International Startup Festival. What was the impetus behind creating this experience?
The travel time to conferences is often wasted time. We wanted to try and make better use of it. Also, it can be lonely when you return from an exciting conference but don't have anyone to connect with after who had that shared experience with you. Having a group of people from your city who you travel and share the experience with creates a longer-term alumni effect in your community.

The International Startup Festival in Montreal draws one of the largest audiences of tech entrepreneurs out of any event in Canada. What do you think makes it so popular?
The city, for one. Montreal is one of the best cities to visit in the summer. There is always an attraction; a reason to make the time. The festival venue is completely different ... right on the water in Old Montreal. The festival-atmosphere makes it a unique and an enjoyable experience.

How has the Startup Train experience changed over the past 4 years?
Startup Train alumni know what to expect. There are always new people to meet and learn from, and we don’t complicate the experience with too much programming. There is enough to keep your business-busy if that’s your goal, but it’s also easy to relax, enjoy the service and views while meeting and chatting with people with a cocktail in hand. This year, VIA Rail, is doing us a favor and giving us one of their cool dome cars typically used for the longer-haul cross-Canada trips.

We’re really excited to do some speed mentorship on the observation deck of the train this year. What else can attendees expect to experience on the SoftLayer Startup Train this year?
There are plenty of people to discuss your ideas with. You can take advantage of the networking with like-minded startups, running your ideas past some of the old hats on the train, or getting some quality advice from the mentors on-board.

The train experience attracts people from around Ontario, not just Torontonians. What do you think gels the Ontario tech community, and how does this play out each year at the Festival in Montreal?
I'm not sure I know the answer. Certainly the train, as with other events in our community, is a gel point in itself. In Canada, in general, we're working to find our way quickly in this fast moving startup world. Events like the train and Startup Festival, are important ways for our lonely entrepreneurs to come together and build our energy; share battle stories; etc.

With around 2,000 people attending the International Startup Festival in Montreal it can get pretty hectic at the venue and in the Old Port in general. What are some tips you can give founders traveling, on or off the train, to Montreal for the Festival?
Getting to Montreal is half the battle. Those choosing Startup Train travel can expect to exert minimum effort with the payoff of maximum enjoyment. Train travel is so easy especially when compared to flying. To fly these days (we won’t even get into the 401 or driving in Montreal), travelers need to be hours early in order to be processed and searched. You have to deal with luggage hassles. You end up losing valuable time in an irritating environment. The actual flying experience itself isn’t an event compared to the romance and fun of train travel. From the moment you get to VIA Rail’s first class lounge prior to leisurely boarding, the actual experience itself is so relaxing. In a plane you’re not likely to get a view, but on a train, that’s all you have. It’s easy to meet and make authentic connections with people on the train right away, so that by the time you arrive in Montreal, you’ve already got some necessary work done. Near the Festival site, you’ve got plenty of social options in the city (walking distance and otherwise). It’s easy to sneak off and grab a beer on a cobblestone street in Old Montreal with startup train passengers if you need a break from the Festival.

For anyone interested in riding the SoftLayer Startup Train, please visit http://ibm.co/1HHV2QZ. If you are a member of our Catalyst Startup Program and would like to travel to the Festival on us, please email me ASAP.

-Qasim

July 2, 2015

All Cloud, No Front—Straight up Cloud Pricing, Now With Even More Price Control and Transparency

Yesterday, we announced a new pricing model that provides customers with even more visibility and control over cloud infrastructure costs.

While other cloud providers advertise “low” prices for incomplete solutions, they neglect to mention extra charges for essential resources like network bandwidth, primary system storage, and support.

At SoftLayer, our servers already include these necessary resources at no additional charge. That’s because we want to provide our customers with unmatched value and the best performance for price, which makes it easier to see actual costs of cloud solutions and budget accordingly.

Our new pricing model includes a redeveloped ordering and provisioning system that offers even more granular pricing for every SoftLayer bare metal and virtual server, from the processor to the RAM, storage, networking, security, and more.

With this new pricing announcement, we’re also introducing new configuration options for bare metal servers, including increased RAM—up to 3TB—and two new SSD drive options—960GB and 1.2TB.

To fully understand the benefits of our new pricing model, let’s take a look at the example below for an Intel Dual Xeon E5-2620 (4U) server.

You can see that our new pricing saves customers ordering this server $1,780 (or 39 percent) over the old pricing model.

Additionally, as part of yesterday's announcement, we’re launching new pricing for services based on data center location. Location-based pricing displays unique pricing for each data center and removes flat- and percentage-based surcharges, giving customers even more price transparency.

You can learn more about SoftLayer’s pricing philosophy on our website.

-Brent

Categories: 
July 1, 2015

Canada’s Funding Roadshow Recap

Fundica helps accelerate the online funding search for entrepreneurs in Canada. Once a year they take their mission offline and organize the country's only Funding Roadshow. In 2015, the SoftLayer Catalyst startup program partnered with Fundica to take the Roadshow to 11 cities across the country where they listened to over 200 entrepreneurs pitch their tech startups to panels of funders.

I recently sat down with Lana Tayara from the Funding Roadshow.

So, tell us about the purpose behind organizing the Funding Roadshow.
The mission of the event is to better facilitate connections between entrepreneurs, funders from private and public sectors, and startup community leaders across Canada. The event aims to fulfill its purpose though a series of events, planned in 11 cities across Canada, by providing educational content designed to help early-stage technology based companies either start and/or grow their business. The one-day event is split into two streams throughout the course of the day. The first one allows up to 20 selected tech companies to present their business in a private room to a panel of investors, mentors, and service providers and get candid feedback to help them validate their business model. The second stream is open to all participants, comprised of all company stages, community developers, investors, and services providers, to listen to great presentations provided by industry leaders that will cover a wide range of topics designed to help them succeed with their business.

To maximize engagement in each city, the Funding Roadshow collaborates with local pro-entrepreneurship groups (accelerators, incubators, universities). In turn, this allows us to better connect our national partners with the local entrepreneurial community and its facilitators. Our national partners get the opportunity to network with each community, gain visibility nationally in the startup scene, and raise awareness about the resources they can offer to Canadian businesses.

What were your 2015 Funding Roadshow goals?
The goals of the 2015 Funding Roadshow were to establish new partnerships with key players of the entrepreneurial community across Canada that would engage participants in each city to generate relevant connections, opportunities, and resources to each person present in the event.

In the 2015 Funding Roadshow, based on a follow-up survey conducted three months later, 31.6 percent of entrepreneurs were offered funding and 33.3 percent of funders funded entrepreneurs. With respect to the funding aspect of our event, our selection criteria for pitching companies were stricter, and presentation guidelines were shared with companies as to increase the quality of pitches and funding probability for 2015.

Lastly, we also offered a wider range of educational topics such as funding, growth models, legal guidance, bookkeeping, storytelling, and other resources available to help startups with their success. We would like to share the value with business owners using technology such as financial management software, online banking, cloud hosting, and secure cloud-based document storage, which can help increase efficiency and productivity within their organization.

What do you think the 2015 Funding Roadshow accomplished?
The 2015 Funding Roadshow travelled through 11 cities from Halifax to Victoria. In each city, up to 20 selected technology-based companies pitched to a panel of eight funders. The initiative was put together with 59 partners, and provided over 96 educational presentations, and engaged 1,147 participants coast-to-coast. The Funding Roadshow was very proud to be able to form new partnerships with two of the most influential hubs in Canada, MaRS and Ryerson DMZ, both of which welcomed the event into their space as exclusive hosting partners in downtown Toronto.

Based on on-site feedback forms we collected from participants across Canada, we received excellent responses:

  • 100 percent of participants who took the survey (funders, pitchers, community members, and general attendees) would participate in the next Funding Roadshow. (Based on a 19 percent participation response.)
  • 94 percent of all participants who answered the survey were satisfied to very satisfied.

We are already in talks with returning sponsors who have reached out to express interest in the next edition of the Funding Roadshow.

Please relate some highlights from across this year's Roadshow. Any themes which emerged amongst all the pitching and networking?

  1. Canadian VCs (venture capitalists) are investing more in early-stage companies.
  2. There is an increase in interest from U.S. investors in mid to later stage companies.
  3. Angel investment in technology companies has increased in comparison to previous years.
  4. Emerging accelerators and collaboration between them.
  5. Government funding varies significantly between provinces.
  6. Early stage companies are still struggling with funding identification.

Overall the Funding Roadshow was a great success, and we can’t wait for 2016. SoftLayer will be there. Will you?

-Qasim

June 29, 2015

Opening Up the Cloud

This guest blog post is written by Alexia Emmanoulopoulou, marketing manager at Canonical.

With OpenStack, cloud computing becomes easily accessible to everyone. It tears down financial barriers to cloud deployments and tackles the fear of lock-in. One of the main benefits of OpenStack is the fact that it is open source and supported by a wide ecosystem, with contributions from more than 200 companies, including Canonical and IBM. Users can change service providers and hardware at any time, and compared to other clouds using virtualization technology, OpenStack can double server utilization to as much as 85 percent. This means that an OpenStack cloud is economical and delivers more flexibility, scalability, and agility to businesses. The challenge however lies in recruiting and retaining OpenStack experts, who are in high demand, making it hard for companies to deploy OpenStack on time and on budget. But BootStack, Canonical’s managed cloud product solved that problem by offering all the benefits of a private cloud without any of the pain of day-to-day infrastructure management.

Addressing the Challenge of Finding OpenStack Experts

Resourcing an OpenStack six-strong team to work 24x7 would cost between $900,000 and $1.5 million and can take months of headhunting. Thus the savings that OpenStack should bring companies are eroded so Canonical created BootStack, short for Build, Operate, and Optionally Transfer. It’s a new service for setting up and operating an OpenStack cloud, in both on-premises and hosted environments, and it gives users the option of taking over the management of your cloud in the future.

After working with each customer to define their requirements and specify the right cloud infrastructure for their business, Canonical’s experienced engineering and support team builds and manages the entire cloud infrastructure of the customer, including Ubuntu OpenStack, the underlying hypervisor, and deployment onto hosted or on-premises hardware. As a result, users get all the benefits of a private cloud without any of the pain of day-to-day infrastructure management. For added protection, BootStack is backed by a clear SLA that covers cloud availability at the user’s desired scale as well as uptime and responsiveness metrics.

Choosing Between On-premises and Hosted Cloud

Some companies prefer to host on-premises because they feel more secure knowing their cloud is running on their own site. However, when things go wrong, some companies find they don’t have the expertise on-hand to quickly recover. Furthermore, on-site hosting is at least three times as expensive as it is to outsource to a hosting specialist.

With the hosted option for BootStack, your OpenStack cloud will be hosted on Ubuntu-certified hardware in SoftLayer data centers. SoftLayer provides customizable bare metal and virtual servers run on the highest performing cloud infrastructure available. Users can seamlessly move data between servers at no cost and benefit from secure, fast, and low-latency communications between data centers. 24x7 expert staff in each data center can troubleshoot any rare issues that can’t be directly resolved through their self-service management portal. Canonical and SoftLayer also take care of patches and upgrades to both the operating system and OpenStack, hardware and software failure prevention and fix, proactive health monitoring of the cloud and hardware, and resolution of any other problems.

No Lock-In and Predictable Cost

The two features that set BootStack apart from other managed cloud products are the predictable cost structure and the lack of lock-in. With BootStack, users can access every tool and every machine, any time. A company can choose to take over the management of its cloud at any time, at which point it will receive training and support from Canonical to ensure a smooth transition. BootStack customers can then choose to either bring their cloud in-house or continue hosting with SoftLayer.

In terms of costs, BootStack cloud is priced at $15 per day per server, plus the cost of the hosting. SoftLayer offers a number of bare metal servers that exceed the OpenStack recommended configuration, starting at $699 per month. You pay as you go, and can scale as your business needs change.

All-in-all, it’s a flexible managed cloud at a predictable cost with expert staff to manage it until you’re ready to take over!

For more information about BootStack, SoftLayer, and OpenStack, download our free white paper: The Easiest Way to Build and Manage an OpenStack Cloud.

-Alexia

June 22, 2015

3 Reasons Citrix NetScaler Should Be in Your PCI DSS Compliant Application Stack at SoftLayer

Whether you already process credit card information or are just starting to consider it, you’ve likely made yourself familiar with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). The PCI-DSS’s 12 requirements (plus one appendix for service providers) outlines what you need to do to have a compliant workload and to pass your audits.

While SoftLayer handles the physical access and security aspects on our platform, we also offer tools to supplement your internal tools and processes to help you maintain PCI-DSS compliance such as the Citrix NetScaler VPX and MPX Platinum Edition product line.

Unique Features NetScaler Offers That Support PCI-DSS

  1. Mask Payment Account Numbers (PANs)
  2. With NetScaler Platinum Edition it’s possible to configure the device to block or mask PANs to prevent leakage of cardholder data—even if your application is attempting to present the data to a user. This is extremely useful when adhering to PCI-DSS Section 3.3—the first six and last four digits are the maximum number of digits to be displayed.

    NetScaler provides reporting as well so that your developers can tighten up that aspect of your application for more identification protection.

  3. Detect and Prevent Web-based Attacks
  4. By deploying a Web application firewall into your application stack, you can fully comply with PCI-DSS Section 6.6, which requires addressing new threats and vulnerabilities on an ongoing basis and ensuring these applications are protected against known attacks. The NetScaler Application Firewall module included in Platinum Edition provides continuous protection and can dynamically adjust to changes in your application code.

  5. Prevent Buffer Overflow, XML Security, Cross Site Scripting, & SQL Injection
  6. The NetScaler Web Application Firewall helps close the door on many common coding vulnerabilities outlined in PCI-DSS Section 6.5. By utilizing XML security protections, form tagging, dynamic context sensitive protections, and deep stream inspection, you can block, log, and report on these common security vectors and ensure your development team can shore up you applications

How to Order
SoftLayer offers Citrix NetScaler VPX Standard and Platinum Editions in multiple bandwidth packages—10Mbps, 200Mbps, and 1Gbps. Order these quickly and easily from your customer portal devices page (click order devices, scroll to networking devices, and select Citrix NetScaler).

SoftLayer also provides the NetScaler MPX for customers that require a dedicated hardware appliance running the NetScaler OS that can handle thousands of concurrent SSL transactions. To order the MPX product, chat with one of our sales advisors.

Be sure to take a look at some of the other features included with Citrix NetScaler.

Learn More About PCI-DSS
SoftLayer supports PCI workloads by providing the physical security required in the DSS. Within the customer portal you’re able to pull our most recent SOC 2 Type II audit report. You can use this as part of your compliance strategy. The rest is up to you to take advantage of the tools and services to make sure you meet the remaining PCI standards. Additionally, when you’re working with your PCI-DSS qualified security assessor, we can also provide an Attestation of Compliance.

For more information on compliance standards, check out http://www.softlayer.com/compliance.

-Seth

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