International Posts

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 19, 2015

Big Data Academy Rewind: Gaming and Mobile App Development Webinar

If you’ve been following along at home (and we hope you have been), you’re probably well-versed in SoftLayer and Cloudant’s free Big Data Academy, the (free) webinar and workshop series designed to teach you all about deploying big data workloads in the cloud, optimizing your infrastructure environment, and capitalizing on the value of your data. (Did we mention it’s free?)

And over the past two weeks, we’ve been recapping and rewinding our Big Data Academy webinar series right here on the blog. You’ve learned how to make the cloud work for those big data applications in the land of e-commerce in “Always Be Open for Business with Cloud Solutions for E-commerce.” Then you delved into the hybrid cloud with “Trusted Computing in a Hybrid Cloud Environment.”

In this, our final week of the Big Data Academy rewind, we’ll explore everyone’s favorite big data beast: gaming and mobile app development. Challenges and solutions? We’ve got them.

Watch the webinar below:

Did you enjoy these Big Data Academy webinars? Well, get offline and follow them to Europe! The Big Data Academy is trekking across the continent this summer, with free in-person workshops in Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Paris, and Helsinki throughout June and July. Register now and max out that summer vacation with a European workshop. (Bonus: All workshop participants will receive a special offer up to $1,250 per month for six months on SoftLayer.)

TOPICS INCLUDE:

  • [00:00:33.00]   Introduction of Howard Smith, SoftLayer Director of Sales Engineering
  • [00:01:02.00]   Overview of SoftLayer
  • [00:09:44.00]   Why SoftLayer?
  • [00:11:53.00]    Big Data (NOSQL) Challenges & SoftLayer Cloud Advantages
  • [00:14:55.00]   SoftLayer Cloud Advantages for Game Development
  • [00:16:36.00]   Big Data Solutions Optimized on SoftLayer
  • [00:18:08.00]   SoftLayer Customer Success Stories
  • [00:22:52.00]   Why Choose Cloudant on SoftLayer?
  • [00:26:25.00]   Introduction of Glynn Bird, IBM Cloudant Developer Advocate
  • [00:27:11.00]    The State of the Digital World, Data Delivery & Choosing a Database
  • [00:32:33.00]   Introduction to IBM Cloudant
  • [00:36:40.00]   Why Gaming and Mobile App Devs Use Cloudant
  • [00:43:14.00]    Cloudant is for Gaming
  • [00:46:36.00]   Cloudant & Mobile App Development
  • [00:49:08.00]   Questions & Conclusion

-Fayza

June 12, 2015

Big Data Academy Rewind: Trusted Computing in a Hybrid Cloud Environment

Through the ongoing (and free!) Big Data Academy, SoftLayer and Cloudant have teamed up to help you learn more about deploying big data workloads in the cloud, optimizing your infrastructure environment, and capitalizing on the value of your data via a series of free webinars and workshops.

But we know some of you prefer learning at your leisure, so we’re recapping our Big Data Academy webinars just for you. Last week, we brought you the first of our Big Data Academy webinar rewind series, “Always Be Open for Business with Cloud Solutions for E-commerce.” This week, we’ll be talking hybrid cloud: security, building and establishing trust and compliance, and enabling a hybrid computing environment.

Watch the webinar below:

Stay tuned for the next Big Data Academy webinar rewind, where we'll tackle the challenges and present the solutions to gaming and mobile app development.

By the way, are you in Europe this summer? The Big Data Academy is backpacking across the continent, with free in-person workshops in Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Paris, and Helsinki throughout June and July. Register now and top off your summer vacation with a free European workshop. (Bonus: All workshop participants will receive a special offer up to $1,250 per month for six months on SoftLayer.)

TOPICS INCLUDE:

  • [00:00:04.00]   Introduction of Karunakar Bojjireddy, SoftLayer Security Product Manager
  • [00:00:45.00]   Overview of SoftLayer
  • [00:02:55.00]   The SoftLayer definition of "cloud"
  • [00:05:52.00]   The SoftLayer difference
  • [00:06:58.00]   Hybrid cloud and security
  • [00:10:32.00]    Building trust and compliance in the cloud
  • [00:11:51.00]     Intel TXT technology on SoftLayer
  • [00:13:27.00]    Establishing trust using Intel TXT/TPM
  • [00:17:55.00]    Platforms using TXT/TPM and enabling the hybrid environment
  • [00:22:33.00]   How trusted computing pools work in an OpenStack environment
  • [00:25:39.00]   Example: the United States government
  • [00:28:35.00]   Questions and conclusion

-Fayza

June 5, 2015

Big Data Academy Rewind: Cloud and E-commerce Webinar

The world of big data applications is a nebulous one; to say a lot is expected of these apps is the understatement of the year. Their workloads are massive, their challenges are many, and their infrastructure solutions must be tailored to support the amount of work they do.

But where big data workloads raise big questions, the cloud has big answers. Through the Big Data Academy, SoftLayer and Cloudant have joined forces to help you learn more about deploying big data workloads in the cloud, optimizing your infrastructure environment, and capitalizing on the value of your data via a series of free webinars and workshops.

What if you weren't able to catch any of the free webinars or workshops this time around? You're in luck: we'll be presenting them here in a three-part series you can watch, pause, rewind, and replay at your leisure.

Our Big Data Academy webinar series rewind kicks off by teaching you how to make the cloud work for those big data applications in the land of e-commerce. In short, you’ll learn how to optimize while you monetize.

Watch the webinar below:

Stay tuned for the next Big Data Academy webinar rewind, where we'll talk all about security in the hybrid cloud. Better yet, if you find yourself in Europe this summer, the Big Data Academy has gone backpacking across the continent, with free in-person workshops in Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Paris, and Helsinki throughout June and July. Register now and top off your summer vacation with a free European workshop. (Bonus: All workshop participants will receive a special offer up to $1,250 per month for six months on SoftLayer.)

TOPICS INCLUDE:

  • [00:00:43.00]   Introduction of Harold Smith, SoftLayer Director of Sales Engineering
  • [00:1:00.00]   The history of SoftLayer and its relationship to the cloud
  • [00:4:26.00]   The SoftLayer definition of "cloud"
  • [00:8:40.00]   Why choose SoftLayer?
  • [00:10:33.00]  Cloud solutions for common big data challenges in e-commerce
  • [00:12:09.00]  SoftLayer cloud advantages for e-commerce
  • [00:13:24.00]  Big data solutions optimized on SoftLayer
  • [00:15:33.00]  Customer success stories: Tiket.com and HotelsCombined.com
  • [00:18:18.00]   Why choose Cloudant on SoftLayer?
  • [00:20:24.00]  Introduction of Glynn Bird, IBM Cloudant Developer Advocate
  • [00:21:14.00]   The state of the digital world
  • [00:22:43.00]  Which database should you use to build your app?
  • [00:25:00.00]  Introduction to IBM Cloudant
  • [00:27:32.00]  Cloudant deployment options
  • [00:29:07.00]  Why do e-commerce businesses use Cloudant?
  • [00:29:11.00]   Elastic cloud scalability
  • [00:32:53.00]  Data synchronicity
  • [00:34:48.00]  Geo-mobility
  • [00:34:25.00]  Freedom and fluidity of deployment
  • [00:36:46.00]  Customer success story: GreenMan Gaming
  • [00:38:46.00]  Cloudant for e-commerce
  • [00:41:10.00]   Questions and conclusion

-Fayza

May 29, 2015

Sydney DC—Since We’ve Launched

It’s been a couple of months since our Sydney data center opened for business, and within this short span we’ve seen a sizable uptake of SoftLayer services—both from existing and new customers in the region. We thought that it was an ideal time to meet these SoftLayer enthusiasts. So, recently SoftLayer CTO Marc Jones, Lead Developer Evangelist Phil Jackson, and a bunch of SLayers visited the city to host workshops, meetups, and a Sydney Launch Party.

Here is a quick snapshot of what went down, Down Under.

≡Developer Workshop at Tank Stream Labs

This year we took the roadshow developer workshops to Australia to celebrate the launch of the Sydney data center (the first round of developer workshops debuted late last year in Asia; read more: Cloud Conversations Ruled at the SoftLayer Asia Roadshow). Led by Phil, the workshop covered managing deployments using the SoftLayer Application Programming Interface (API). The workshop helped developers interact with their accounts, products, and services using direct API calls in a development environment. Phil also answered questions and helped attendees understand, solve, and implement specific ideas in their SoftLayer environments.

≡Sydney Launch Party at the Hotel CBD Fourth Floor

SoftLayer users and enthusiasts came together to join us for an evening of great conversations and excellent music. Marc discussed why SoftLayer selected Sydney for its next data center as well as gave some insight to SoftLayer products and expansion. We spent the evening chatting with our customers and key guys in the startup space.

We’d like to give a shout out to Greg Furlong, CEO & Founder of ChannelPace, David Holmes, CDO of Hostworks, and Jessica Sullivan, Marketing and Business Development Consultant and Founder sbFlourish for taking the time to chat with us. Also, thanks to all those who participated in the workshop and attended the launch party.

I am looking forward to being back in the city with all its amazing restaurants and delicacies, but mostly because it would be amazing to check back with our clients and hear more stories on how SoftLayer services are being used.

Cheers,
–Namrata (Connect with me on LinkedIn or, Twitter)

March 12, 2015

Sydney’s a Go

Transforming an empty room into a fully operational data center in just three months: Some said it couldn’t be done, but we did it. In less than three months, actually.

Placing a small team on-site and turning an empty room into a data center is what SoftLayer refers to as a Go Live. Now, of course there is more to bringing a data center online than the just the transformation of an empty room. In the months leading up to the Go Live deployment, there are details to work out, contracts to sign, and the electrical fit out (EFO) of the room itself. During my time with SoftLayer I have been involved in building several of our data centers, or SoftLayer pods as we call them. Pods are designed to facilitate infrastructure scalability, and although they have evolved over the years as newer, faster equipment has become available, the original principles behind the design are still intact—so much so that a data center technician could travel to any SoftLayer data center in the world and start working without missing a beat. And the same holds true to building a pod from the ground up. This uniformity is what allows us to fast track the build out of a new SoftLayer pod. This is one of the reasons why the Sydney data center launch was such a success.

Rewind Three Months

When we landed in Sydney on December 11, 2014, we had an empty server room and about 125 pallets of gear and equipment that had been carefully packed and shipped by our inventory and logistics team. First order of business: breaking down the pallets, inspecting the equipment for any signs of damage and checking that we received everything needed for the build. It’s really quite impressive to know that everything from screwdrivers to our 25U routers to even earplugs had been logged and accounted for. When you are more than 8,500 miles away from your base of operations, it’s imperative that the Go Live team has everything it needs on hand from the start. Something seemingly inconsequential as not having the proper screws can lead to costly delays during the build. Once everything’s been checked off, the real fun begins.


(From Left) Jackie Vong, Dennis Vollmer, Jon Bowden, Chris Stelly, Antonio Gomez, Harpal Singh, Kneeling - Zachary Schacht, Peter Panagopoulos, and Marcelo Alba

Next we set up the internal equipment that powers the pod: four rows of equipment that encompass everything from networking gear to storage to the servers that run various internal systems. Racking the internal equipment is done according to pre-planned layouts and involves far too many cage nuts, the bane of every server build technician’s existence.

Once the internal rows are completed, it’s time to start focusing on the customer rows that will contain bare metal and virtual servers. Each customer rack contains a minimum of five switches—two for the private network, two for the public network, and one out-of-band management switch. Each row has two power strips and in the case of the Sydney data center, two electrical transfer switches at the bottom of the rack that provide true power redundancy by facilitating the transfer of power from one independent feed to another in the case of an outage. Network cables from the customer racks route back to the aggregate switch rack located at the center of each row.

Right around the time we start to wrap up the internal and customer rows, a team of network engineers arrive on-site to run the interconnects between the networking gear and the rest of the internal systems and to light up the fiber lines connecting our new pod to our internal network (as well as the rest of the world). This is a big day because not only do we finally get Wi-Fi up in the pod, but no longer are we isolated on an island. We are connected, and teams thousands of miles away can begin the process of remotely logging in to configure, deploy, and test systems. The networking team will start work on configuring the switches, load balancers, and firewalls for their specific purposes. The storage team will begin the process of bringing massive storage arrays online, and information systems will start work on deploying the systems that manage the automation each pod provides.


(From Left) Zach Robbins, Grayson Schmidt, Igor Gorbatok and Alex Abin

During this time, we start the process of onboarding the newest members of the team, the local Sydney techs, who in a few short months will be responsible for managing the data center independently. But before they fully take over, customer racks are prepped and are waiting to house the final piece of the puzzle: the servers. They arrive via truck day [check out DAL05 Pod 2 truck day]; Sydney’s was around the beginning of February. Given the amount of hardware we typically receive, truck days are an event unto themselves—more than 1,500 of the newest and fastest SuperMicro servers of various shapes and sizes that will serve as the bare metal and virtual servers for our customers. Through a combination of manpower and automation, these servers get unboxed, racked, checked in, and tested before they are sold to our customers.

Now departments involved in bringing the Sydney data center online wrap up and sign off. Then we go live.

Bringing a SoftLayer pod online and on time is a beautifully choreographed process and is one of my greatest professional accomplishments. The level of coordination and cohesion required to pull it off, not once, not twice but ten times all over the world in the last year alone can’t be overstated enough.

-Dennis

February 17, 2015

Asia Startup Series: Putting a Twist in the Job Industry—Power to the Job Seeker

Startups are near and dear to our heart at SoftLayer; just take a look at the Catalyst program. That’s why we are so excited to see the startup scene in Asia growing at a tremendous pace. The fact that venture capitalists are now setting aside funds especially for young technology companies in this part of the world brings to focus the absolute potential of this market. Some of the big funds announced in 2014 include: the Singapore government's $48 million fund distributed among six venture capital firms, Japanese mobile gaming giant GREE Ventures’ new $50 million fund, Softbank and Indosat’s partnership to launch a $50 million fund for Indonesia, and Softbank’s $20 million fund for the Philippines.

*This is Part 3 of the Asia Startup Series. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Before we dive into the Asia startup of the month, let’s discuss how the 2014 Asia Series A saw some of the largest investments to date—startups in China alone racked in US$130 million, and if we go by the frequently released trends, 2015 is set to break all records. The sheer number of investable startups coming out of the region will only open doors for more entrepreneurs. Here’s a look at some of the big winners:

  • Renrendai, a Beijing-based financial services startup received a whopping US$130 million last year
  • aCommerce walked away with US$10.7 million
  • Appier, an artificial intelligence, big-data ad-tech company won a US$6 million series A investment

Check out some interesting infographics on my Startup Trends in Asia Pinterest page, including this infographics shared by TechinAsia and the 2014 high-value investments. Ping me if you have some more we should pin (LinkedIn or Twitter).

Temploy

With so many job search websites, portals, apps, and agencies dedicated to getting the employer the right employee, I found Temploy to be quite uniquely positioned and hence, the focus of this month's startup story.

Temploy, founded by Mark Koh, is a marketplace that automates the anonymous matching of temporary workers to employers while aligning expectations. This translates to a platform that essentially targets not only semi-skilled, low-skilled, blue-collar, and transferrable job positions, but a portal where students searching for summer jobs, individuals searching for part-time placements, or those looking for double income avenues can design the work they want based on parameters of locality, remunerations, schedule, and skills.


Mark Koh, Temploy founder

Basically, the portal connects the job seeker with the right employer.

Having worked two jobs while studying in Australia, Mark went through the grind of finding jobs to fit his schedule. He also saw firsthand the often unfair treatment of temp-workers as well as the flickering loyalty of the temps towards their interim-employers.

"I realized there was a huge mismatch in what the candidate was expecting and the actual job requirements. There was a core demand in most cases of having the flexibility to maintain work-life balance so that the candidate could meet their other commitments. So, we decided to put the power in the hands of job seekers, and the idea of Temploy was born," Mark shared when we caught-up last week.

Understanding the Market

Temploy looked at targeting the ASEAN market due to the sheer demand of skilled workforce in the region. Mark found that Thailand and Philippines had a high number of day semi-skilled and blue-collared jobs. Because these paid daily, there was a great demand from candidates to find multiple jobs to fit in their unpredictable schedule.

On the other hand, in Indonesia, especially in the Bunder, Surabhaya, and Jakarta districts, the average users were teenagers and college students looking for comparatively higher salaries for temp jobs.

"It is surprising to note that employers actively encourage such candidates to pick up a second job to meet these expectations," Mark noted.

Singapore faced a big labor crunch, and the main reason behind this was an image perception that certain jobs were considered un-cool by part-time prospective candidates looking to fill their summer holidays. These candidates also demanded higher pay than what employers could afford. Here flexibility and work-life balance are more important than the actual compensation. Mark also noted there is a stigma associated with working two jobs.

In Vietnam, where the workforce population is the youngest, localization still remains a major challenge but there is still a huge potential. Cambodia, on the other hand, does not have the necessary penetration of smartphone and Internet connectivity needed for the platform to succeed currently.

The Platform and All That It Entails

After developing their customized optimized man workforce system (OMWS), Mark launched the company in mid-2014. Since then, there have been tweaks and updates based on their ongoing understanding of the region and to improve the employee-employer match algorithms.

The platform empowers job-seekers by allowing them to design their own jobs, including how many and what hours they would like to work, salary expectations, and the type of jobs they are looking for. This then undergoes a sophisticated linear optimization algorithm that matches jobs anonymously, mapping the job-seeker's criteria with current openings posted by employers. Contact details are only exchanged once both parties accept that the match is to their satisfaction.

When I asked Mark what was different about Temploy, he said, "The unique proposition lies in the database being non-extractable, hence discrimination based on last name, race etc. is avoided. Plus our competitors cannot poach our client or our candidate listing."

Mark and his team selected SoftLayer as a foundation for building their platform. "It helps that the data center is located in Singapore, which reduces the latency for our audiences. Getting data replicated is easy as well. I have no worries whether my data is safe since we can auto-replicate it across other DCs, including geographically disparate locations. In addition, features like auto-scaling are helping us tremendously in dealing with traffic spikes emerging due to our recent marketing tactics. Moreover, the benefits of the Catalyst program and the support from SoftLayer's support team are second to none," he shared.

The video gives a quick explanation of how the portal works.

What's Next

Within seven months of its launch, Temploy has seen over 1,600 registered users. The team has been progressively looking for ways to improve the platform, which will soon include a SMS-based signup for low-Internet penetration regions. Temploy recently participated in numerous startup competitions. The latest includes a spot in Channel News Asia Start-up Season 2. Mark has decided to launch a non-profit event, Skillup 2015, for youth and the young-at-heart to explore what he calls, Epic Career Options outside the ordinary—part time work, freelance work, entrepreneurship.

Temploy is in the spotlight, and for all the right reasons.

Cheers,
–Namrata (Connect with me on LinkedIn or, Twitter)

February 2, 2015

#SLCloudLove: Growing an e-Commerce Business On The Cloud

Editor’s Note: Each month in 2015, we’ll be celebrating the cornucopia of reasons why the cloud reigns supreme — from customer tales to cloud insights and everything in between. During February, the notorious month of love, we’re showing you exactly why we heart the cloud. Follow all the fun on your favorite social networks by keeping tabs on #SLCloudLove.

Clicking Add to Cart—that’s how I like to shop these days. Brick and mortar shopping might be retail therapy, but the convenience and online discounts at my fingertips appeases my inherently lazy human tendencies.

With more and more online e-stores cropping up, physical retail outlets can no longer ignore not having an online presence, including a mobile-friendly website and ordering system. The numbers say it all:

  • e-Commerce sales are expected to be more than $1.7 trillion with mobile commerce accounting for nearly $300 billion in sales. Read more here.
  • In India, the e-commerce market is expected to reach $6 billion in 2015—a 70 percent increase over 2014. Read more here.
  • The Chinese government is allowing foreign-owned e-commerce companies to operate in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone as part of a pilot program; the market is expected to see a lot of inflow despite tough competition from local giants like JD.com and Alibaba. Read more here.
  • The six largest Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) reached $7 billion in total revenues in 2013 and will grow at a CAGR of 37.6 percent to reach $34.5 billion by 2018. Read more here.

So when I recently attended the iMedia Online Retail Summit, I jumped at the chance to discuss with the audience the benefits of moving their e-Commerce business to the cloud as well as discussing some very interesting stories about e-commerce platforms based in Asia.

Here is a quick overview of the presentation:

e-Commerce on Cloud
There is no denying the high reliance on IT. e-Commerce portals need to handle a rising number of Internet users, provide a secure and convenient online payment system, and support lucrative offers by e-tailors. The problem is that the utilization is unpredictable (except holiday season when it is predictably unpredictable!). If your site slows or freezes, especially during a sale, it can be compared to shutting your store on Black Friday. Customers will abandon their carts, and the social media sites will erupt with negative remarks—recall the recent headliner, Flipkart faces social media backlash over ‘crashes’, ‘misleading’ pricing.

The dilemma: Over-allocate and over-pay for unused resources just to manage sudden shopping spurts, or under-allocate resources and suffer the wrath of the new-age shopper. Cloud resources seems like a natural solution when you don’t want to be stuck in the either-or situation. But, not just any cloud solution will do. If a provider has a lock-in period or contract (even if it’s short-term)—well that's not really cloud, now is it?

Similarly the cloud solution is not justifying your investments if it is going to charge you every time you, as an internal user, try to move your virtual servers across your operating geos to get closer to customers. For example: your next online sale is targeted at holiday shoppers in Singapore or you want to carry out test runs for your Amsterdam customer base, but your core virtual server originally resides in Melbourne.

Solving e-Commerce Challenges with SoftLayer
I like using this image as it gives a great view into how SoftLayer can help e-commerce and e-tail customers manage day-to-day scenarios. From seasonal site traffic spikes to needing backup solutions for business continuity, SoftLayer has a solution for it. Plus SoftLayer brings advantages gleaned from working with e-commerce giants over the past decade.

Walking the Talk—Businesses that are Leveraging Cloud . . . Successfully!
In October 2014, Natali Ardianto, Tiket.com's CTO, gave a keynote address at Cloud Expo Asia about building one of Indonesia’s largest online travel and entertainment portals. When it first launched a few years ago, Tiket.com faced TCP, DoS, and DDoS attacks while hosting unsuccessfully on two different IaaS providers. The company needed a highly stable infrastructure delivering consistent performance and reliable support to ensure site uptime and a smooth end-user experience. Tiket.com chose SoftLayer to support its site. Running on SoftLayer bare metal servers, Tiket.com systems are now able to handle more than 300 API requests per minute and has experienced a 75 percent cost savings. Watch Natali's video where he discusses his cloud experience, or read the detailed case study.

HotelsCombined.com is an impressive collection of over 5 million real-time international hotel deals, a database of more than 800,000 properties and an affiliate base of over 20,000 companies. The company uses a combination of SoftLayer bare metal and virtual servers, load balancers, and redundant iSCSI storage. This provides the company with several thousand cores of processing power and enables it to remain lean and move quickly. The company also uses the SoftLayer infrastructure to provide real-time predictive models to the website and to support its business intelligence tools. Read the detailed case study.


Photo credits @iMediaSummit

While at the conference, I met up with a great bunch of entrepreneurs, startups and giants from across Asia. It was amazing to hear about the journey and growth plans of Rakuten, Life Project, Qoo10, Telunjuk, Seroyamart.com, and many more. Keep your ears open this coming year. The e-commerce landscape is rapidly progressing and these guys are weaving the fabric.

Cheers,

–Namrata (Connect with me on LinkedIn or, Twitter)

January 19, 2015

Asia Startup Series: It's All About Making the Most of Your “Professional Social Life”

Startups are near and dear to our heart at SoftLayer; just take a look at the Catalyst program. That’s why we are so excited to see the startup scene in Asia growing at a tremendous pace. The fact that venture capitalists are now setting aside funds especially for young technology companies in this part of the world brings to focus the absolute potential of this market. Some of the big funds announced in 2014 include: the Singapore government's $48 million fund distributed among six venture capital firms, Japanese mobile gaming giant GREE Ventures’ new $50 million fund, Softbank and Indosat’s partnership to launch a $50 million fund for Indonesia, and Softbank’s $20 million fund for the Philippines.

*This is Part 2 of the Asia Startup Series. Read Part 1: Drawing Board Events: Event Planning Goes the Way of the Cloud

Australia is a hotpot of ideas and over the years a number of local startups have shot to fame. Seedstarsworld released this overview of the Sydney startup scene. In April 2014, Insight Venture Partners invested US$250 million in a Sydney-based email marketing company. Much more recently, U.S. venture capital fund Technology Crossover Ventures invested US$30 million in an Australian online hotel distribution company. With all the momentum Down Under, this seems like a great time talk about one Australian startup that has a pretty cool idea to share.

ChannelPace
Working with startups is brilliant because there are no limits to how much one can blur the lines, extend the lines, distort the lines, join two lines to reinvent the boring the stuff, or bring in something brand new. ChannelPace is perhaps one of my favorite examples of such line-blurring ideas.

Picture this: As a business, it is imperative that you have a complete track of who your customers, your prospects, and even your potential employees are. When the world recognized this, we saw some really nice CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools come to market. The problem, however, with such tools is that the contact ownership is with the business, while the relationships are built by the people (the sales, marketing and support teams). Attrition is a reality, and when an employee leaves a company, the contacts, relationships, and information they’ve made often slip through the cracks. Of course that individual could continue to nurture those relationships through popular social channels. But keeping track of the hundreds, if not thousands, of contacts is nearly impossible, especially if the contacts themselves change companies.

And, this is where ChannelPace, an Australian-based startup, managed to merge and blur the lines. Greg Furlong, CEO of ChannelPace, attended SoftLayer’s Melbourne data center launch party last October, and that's where we started discussing the unique value his startup provides. Greg defines ChannelPace as the world’s first crowd-sourced contact management system.

He said, “The contacts we make during our working lives are some of our most valuable assets. And at its core, ChannelPace is designed to enable users to get their contacts organized in one place and available across all their Web-capable devices. The premise is that individuals own contacts, and our system enables sharing between users at the same company, thereby harnessing the knowledge of co-workers. When a ChannelPace user moves to another company, they take their contacts, and an imprint is left behind.”

This cloud-based system has the best of both worlds: a CRM system and a social channel. Contacts may be entered in the same manner as a traditional CRM system, or via business networking, in a manner similar to LinkedIn. Only one record is ever kept of a business card, keyed on the unique email address, and then people with the same contacts or in the same company all participate in updating the information—all without necessarily being connected to or aware of each other. Crowd-sourcing ensures information is always up-to-date, which is more efficient and effective, giving companies and individuals a competitive advantage.

Here is a snapshot of my conversation and the innumerable email exchanges with Greg:

The crowd-sourcing concept was great, but why would an organization appreciate and implement this system if they were no longer contact owners?

Greg: The first pillar of the ChannelPace system, contact management, provides people with a place to enter their business contacts. As the only way into the system is via a work-issued email address, we bring users from the same company together by creating a dynamic CRM system where everyone in the same company’s contacts are pooled. Individuals still “own” their contacts, but now everyone in the same company has access to the contact knowledge of all other ChannelPace users in their company. When you leave your company, you lose access to the shared knowledge. When you start at a new company, your contacts are now pooled with other ChannelPace users at your new company. In this way, we are providing a contact management system where users have an active interest in using it, as it is their information. Traditional CRM relies on users within the company keeping information updated. ChannelPace does this also, but we extend the updating reach to any other users around the world with access to the same contacts, which makes it more reliable and relevant.

Why did you decide to build ChannelPace as a cloud-based system?

Greg: We began building the company in 2013 with a mission to disrupt the CRM industry and displace dominant players like LinkedIn, Google+, and Salesforce. In order to compete at that level, we realized that ChannelPace needed a scalable, global cloud infrastructure platform that was nimble, reliable, and easy to implement. Hence the move to cloud. We were also looking for local presence, redundancy on multiple continents, load balancing, and as workloads increase in specific areas, high scalability. We considered numerous cloud providers including SoftLayer, Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine, Rackspace and Microsoft’s Azure. Finally, we decided to sign up with SoftLayer.

Why SoftLayer?

Greg: Two of ChannelPace’s priorities were global reach and scalability. ChannelPace now operates in 56 countries, and SoftLayer’s growing number of data centers and global network makes it easy for us to expand and grow our business. Also, SoftLayer’s network-within-a-network architecture is quite unique and enables us deliver unlimited traffic “on network” between servers in different data center locations around the world. When you’re looking to make an immediate impact on an industry, it’s important to work with a provider who you truly consider to be an extension of your business.

The system has immense potential. What are your growth plans for ChannelPace in 2015?

Greg: Like any other startup, we want to focus on aggressive market expansion and customer outreach. We have set high targets for ourselves, and towards that we are currently developing iOS and Android apps to extend the ChannelPace service to mobile. We also have a couple of tweaks and innovations in pipelines and 2015 is going to be super exciting for us.

I think it's great that my work life now has the potential to become a “professional social life!”

Cheers,
–Namrata (Connect with me on LinkedIn or, Twitter)

December 31, 2014

SoftLayer Asia Roadshow 2014 ends with a sprint across Greater China

As 2014 draws to an end, so does the nine-city SoftLayer Asia Roadshow. We concluded our GCG chapter in Taipei on December 18, and I was thrilled to see guests coming to our customer meetups and workshops to learn and share experiences. This tour has helped us get closer to our clients and get a better understanding of the local market challenges and expectations.

Mic Kwok and William Lim, our in-house experts and local leads for the Roadshow in GCG, presented and shared unique SoftLayer solutions and advantages and industry success stories with start-ups, developers, and entrepreneurs. They also led interactive sessions where we had in-depth conversations, like the Bare-feet, Bare Metal workshop held at PicCollage.

We’d like to send a great big shout out to the speakers and our attendees for making the event such a success.

I had a chance to talk to iTaiwan Consultancy and Herxun Inc. during the workshop and customer meetups. It was great to hear positive feedback on the SoftLayer Roadshow initiative and SoftLayer services.

“[SoftLayer's] monthly bandwidth package provides us with more buffer to deal with potential DDoS attacks. Unlike other cloud solution providers, SoftLayer charges a standard monthly fee without additional bandwidth usage billing. This eliminates unexpected bandwidth charges when a hacking situation arises. I chose SoftLayer for a client of mine who’s a famous local opinion leader to prevent unexpected billing if any hacking.”
Tommy Lee, Founder of iTaiwan Consultancy Co., Ltd

“SoftLayer data center service, charged by hour, pay by usage, is a great option for start-ups! With [SoftLayer’s] flexible solutions, it allows us to test in all sorts of creative formats, which accelerates time to market of our new product/services.”
Brian Chen, CEO and Co-Founder of Herxun Inc.

While in Taipei, we also met with local start-ups and SMBs at the Asia BEAT 2014. SoftLayer’s Allen Poon, Angus Ip and William Lim held a dedicated workshop for the event attendees. What stood out for us was the deep-dive discussions and cross-questioning from the attendees that made the session so much livelier.

Although it was a fun and stressful couple of months of planning and executing, time flew by. While I am looking forward to recharging over the holidays, I am also super pumped for 2015. As you have probably heard, we launched three new data centers (Tokyo, Mexico City, and Frankfurt) in December with more to come in 2015. And there are a lot of new activities planned in the new year, especially in Greater China, so stay tuned!

‘Til then, wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a new year full of peace and happiness!

- Winifred (stay connected via LinkedIn)

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