Introductions Posts

March 16, 2012

SLayer 101: A Whirlwind First Week

Having been client in the past, I already had some idea of how amazing the SoftLayer team was. Every interaction I had with the company was fantastic, and though I've worked with hundreds of service providers in different industries, I can wholeheartedly say that the service I received at Softlayer was better than any I'd ever experienced. As you can imagine, that left a pretty phenomenal impression on me.

When the opportunity came up a couple of months ago to interview with Paul Ford and the Community Development team, my response was almost instinctual: I jumped at the chance. Having met him and several members of the team in San Francisco in the past (picture below), I knew the kinds of individuals he surrounded himself with — incredibly smart, talented, hard-working, and just downright COOL people. That's right ... Seldom do you find a team in a corporate environment where you can actually say the people are all awesome — people you would want to hang out with even if you didn't work with them.

Josh and Paul

After going through the interview process, I hopped on a plane to Dallas to visit the Alpha headquarters. In the whirlwind of introductions and training sessions, I was surprised how productive the trip ended up being. I met most of the folks I'll be working with on a regular basis, and I had the opportunity to learn more and more about what Community Development is doing. And I was blown away at how much of that work was being done for other companies. The impression I get is that the impact Community Development is having on the business community is real, it's measurable and it's making a difference. It's impactful. From mentorship to event sponsorship to expert recommendations about infrastructure and architecture, nowhere in the industry can you find a company that works so hard for its customers. Trust me. I looked. Nowhere.

When I returned to San Francisco (where I live and will be based), I happened upon the Game Developers Conference where SoftLayer was present in a big way. I grabbed lunch with an existing client, I could tell their interaction with our team was no different from mine when I was a customer: Both sides clearly work together to find a solution that works for everyone. The interaction seemed to transcend the traditional "client-vendor" relationship, and it was clear that the Softlayer team was deeply committed to the client's mission and product offering.

Learning all of the different ways Softlayer is helping them (beyond providing server and hosting solutions) was would have been astounding ... If I didn't already kind of expect it from my experience. I couldn't help but be ecstatic about what's to come.

I met with the team at the GDC booth and got some more first-hand perspective about how we're embraced by the community. Walking the show floor and coming back to our almost-always-crowded booth (after seeing so many other booths quiet and empty) reinforced my feeling that I joined one of the most exciting companies in the industry. Our Server Challenge kept the booth BUSY for the entire time I was at the show — both days.

GDC Server Challenge

Observing how our team engaged the visitors drove home a point I touched on earlier: That SoftLayer employees CARE about every client and prospect. They asked questions about the attendee's business, what the business's needs were, and (most impressively to me) held back on "the hard sell." And that's pretty unique in itself.

As I embark on week number two of my employment (and beyond), I can't wait to learn more and more so I can become an integral part of the team. If you're ever on the West Coast and want to talk SoftLayer, hit me up!

-Joshua

March 12, 2012

Quantifying Culture: From Intern to Full-Time SLayer

I've worked two months as a full-time employee at SoftLayer, but if you were to ask anyone here, they'd say I've been a SLayer for much longer. They're half right. I've been around, but not as a full-time employee. I started my SoftLayer journey as an intern in the summer before what was supposed to be my last full year of college. After that brief glimpse at what working at SoftLayer was like, I made the decision to condense my senior year into one semester (packed with 33 course credits and countless nights spent in the library) to get back to Dallas to sign on as an official SoftLayer employee. You might wonder why someone would give up her senior year of college to get into the working world ... To me it wasn't about "giving something up" as much as it was about "gaining an opportunity" to work for a company that fosters a culture I genuinely love! I literally could not wait to be back.

There are so many stories I could divulge about my time at SoftLayer — from company events with amusing endings to very thoughtful nicknames to a boss who has transformed into a friend and mentor. I'm not sure how many of these stories would be appreciated to a non-SLayer, and even if I tried to share them, I know they wouldn't do SoftLayer's culture justice. Honestly, I cannot make you understand what makes SoftLayer "SoftLayer." It's not just a name on a building ... It's the experience of getting a group of passionate people in a room to create and innovate. When you're surrounded by that atmosphere, you challenge yourself to be better ... And this blog is a testament to that atmosphere.

I would not consider myself a writer, and I was very hesitant to write this blog. This will be my first contribution to The Innerlayer, and writing the first words on a blank canvas is always intimidating. As I sat at my desk, wracking my brain for where to begin, it took all of five minutes for a fellow employee to recognize my struggles, pick up her laptop and come over to my desk with her work to help me turn my thoughts into words. I don't know of many other companies where it would be normal (or even allowed) to literally bring your work station to another person's desk to share time so generously.

An opportunity to join a culture like that is worth a lot more than a lighter course load and a longer senior year. And it's only one of many examples I can think of that happen on a regular basis that make working at SoftLayer so enjoyable.

Immediately after having finished this blog, I realized I wasn't stumped on the idea of writing a blog ... I was trying to decide how to adequately convey what SoftLayer's culture feels like to someone who doesn't get to experience it. I realize it's a matter of comprehending the incomprehensible. All I can tell you is that I don't regret giving up anything by accelerating my senior year. Truth be told, I am learning more here than any classroom, professor or project could have taught me.

Want to join us? There are more than forty available positions at SoftLayer in all of our worldwide locations. What are you waiting for?

-Katie (aka "KornFed" aka "Kansas" aka "Pippa")*

*I told you there were thoughtful nicknames.

November 23, 2011

SoftLayer: My Kind of Work Atmosphere

When I tell friends and family that I work for a fun and diverse company where I get hands-on experience and am surrounded by knowledgeable and savvy coworkers, some stare at me in disbelief. In most minds, a job normally doesn't have all of those characteristics at the same time.

From 1999–2009, I worked as a senior transactional paralegal (with a specialty in securities and exchange regulations) in the private equity industry. I was doing the right things in life — I had a college degree, a career, and I was a dedicated mother for my son. The problem was that I was working at a company where employees were seen but not heard. It was brutal. My daily work schedule involved me waking up at 5:30 a.m., getting my son ready for school, dressing to meet strict "professional" business attire requirements, and heading off to a stressful office for 9 to 12 hours. After my long day, I had to fight to stay alert through evenings filled with karate, soccer and P.T.A. meetings. Later, my son and I would head home to homework and bedtime stories. Then the cycle repeated itself. My son was the BEST sport ... He understood this "work ethic," and he dealt with the monotonous routine as part of his daily philosophy, too.

When the finance industry went "kaput," and my former company was drastically affected, I vowed to my son (and myself) to never work in a boring, white collar job ever again. That was easier said than done, though. I tried to figure out what I wanted to be when I finally "grew up," and I even thought about going back to teaching ... Which would have been an improvement, but it would have still been regimented. I kept looking.

I hunted for a job in corporate America that didn't emulate the pattern I was escaping: A place with a happy work environment, an opportunity to get work done and come home content, the ability to rely on co-workers as associates rather than adversaries, and the freedom to be a good mom in the process. In my job hunt, I took job in a legal department in the entertainment sector, and I started to see that jobs could be fun. Exciting companies exist, and they had to be looking for dedicated workers, so I wouldn't settle for anything less.

The first day I walked in the building at SoftLayer, it seemed like EVERYONE was smiling from ear-to-ear. I met a great team of educated, experienced professionals from all walks of life, each passionately serving his/her purpose for the company. When I left the office, I felt like I made a difference, and I was energized to show up the next day.

The most interesting thing about working here was the hands-on experience I got in the data center. Living in legal departments for my entire professional career, I was clueless about what happened behind the locked data center doors when new servers were delivered, but that cluelessness didn't last very long. I was given the opportunity to volunteer and get my hands "dirty" with many of my colleagues on a "Truck Day," and I got a first-hand look at what it takes to delivering superior servers to our customers.

As SLayers, we were chosen to be part of an innovative and expanding company that redefines, reinvents and innovates on a daily basis, and as I look back at my old job, I really appreciate the honor. When someone asks me where I work and what the company does, I can't just say "SoftLayer" and "web hosting." I have to explain all about how all of SoftLayer's data centers (domestic and international) provide nonstop service for businesses around the world via the best cloud and dedicated hosting platforms in the industry. And that doesn't even start talking about the people I work with.

Every day, I meet new coworkers from around the world and learn interesting facts about them. I remember chatting with a coworker who said, "I hate going home from this place, because I love coming to work here." That statement is priceless because it embodies the work mentality of everyone who walks through the doors in the morning. To the surprise of friends and family, I've trashed my stuffy business attire for good, and I'm excited to show up at work every day where creativity and knowledge are respected, there is an admiration for individuality, and everyone lives and breathes the a "Challenging But Not Overwhelming" philosophy.

SoftLayer Technologies, Inc.: The best career move I've ever made and finally a workplace I can call "my kind of work atmosphere." That's definitely something to be thankful for this time of year.

And it should go without saying that my son loves his mom's new job, too.

-Chinenye

November 22, 2011

Semper Fi + Innovate or Die

How can I emphasize how cool my job is and how much I like it? I can't believe SoftLayer pays me to do what I love. I should really be paying tuition for the experience I'm gaining here (Note to the CFO: Let's forget the "I should be paying to work here" part when we go through my next annual review).

My name is Beau Carpenter and I'm writing my first blog for SoftLayer to introduce myself and share some of my background and experience to give you an idea of what life is like for someone in finance at a hosting company. In a nutshell, my mission with is to understand, organize and report every dollar that comes into and goes out of the company. These financial reports are reviewed internally, shared with our investors and used when we have a trigger event like the merger with The Planet last year.

To give you a little background about who I am, the most notable thing about me is that I'm a third generation Marine. My grandfather served in WWII, my father served in Vietnam, and I joined during the Gulf War, serving from 1991–1995. After completing my tour and receiving an honorable discharge, I returned home to Texas to get my education and start working ... while growing a family of four.

After I earned my bachelor's degree, I went to work at Rice University for Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize for discovering nanotechnology. Rick was a fantastic mentor, and when he recommend that I join Rice's MBA program, I thought it was a pretty good idea. It didn't hurt that his glowing recommendation gave me a great foot in the door to the program. I earned my MBA from Rice in May of 2005, and headed out into the corporate world ... If you can call SoftLayer, "corporate."

The majority of my coworkers probably have no idea what I do because I spend a lot time tucked away in my office running numbers. As you probably could have guessed, in financial analysis/reporting, strong numbers are a lot easier to report than bad ones, and SoftLayer's numbers have been so good that they keep me up at night. I know that sounds strange, but I'm up every Sunday night and month-end at midnight so I can communicate our company's progress for the past week or month as soon as it is over. Some may not find that late night work appealing, but being numbers jockey, I can't help but be excited about sharing the latest information ... even if it could technically wait until the next morning.

I've been in denial for a few years, but after rereading that last paragraph, I have to admit I'm officially a nerd now.

I've done financial and nonfinancial metrics analysis for a couple of companies before I landed at SoftLayer, and the difference between this company and others I've worked for is night and day. The culture here is healthy and positive, everyone's focused on their work, and the company provides a lot of perks to keep everyone going. Energy drinks, super-cool coffee machines, endless snacks ... but the most important perk is the general sense of camaraderie you get from being around a team of professionals who are passionate about their work.

Kevin asked me how I'd compare my experience at SoftLayer to my experience in the Marines, and I think the most resonating similarities are the shared sense of purpose and the close ties I have with my team.

Semper Fi + Innovate or Die.

-Beau

October 31, 2011

3 Bars | 3 Questions: Amsterdam

Within days of signing on to join the SoftLayer team in Amsterdam, I was on a plane to Dallas. With our facility coming online November 7, the onboarding process had to be accelerated, and the trip to our global headquarters provided an excellent crash course in SoftLayer's strategy and vision for the future. The trip also provided Kevin an opportunity to record a "3 Bars 3 Questions" interview with me after he talked to Michael Ong, the SoftLayer's APAC general manager.

Because I hadn't been a SLayer for too long, he took it easy on me, and we had a great discussion about SoftLayer's strategy in Europe and what customers can expect from our continued global expansion:

In the next week, you'll get a few behind-the-scenes glimpses of our final Amsterdam data center preparations leading up to our November 7 "Go Live" date. If you haven't already seen the "Amsterdam Ready to Launch" blog or the instant-classic "SoftLayer is Coming to Town" video about our international expansion, take a few minutes to check those out.

If you're based in Europe, have a significant customer base in Europe or you've just always wanted a server in Amsterdam, you can pre-order your first AMS01 dedicated server or cloud server right now, and you'll be one of the first in your neighborhood to enjoy our newest facility!

-@jpwisler

October 28, 2011

3 Bars | 3 Questions: Singapore

It's been a few months since the last 3 Bars 3 Questions with "The Mitch," and between then and now, a lot has changed in the SoftLayer world. The biggest difference: Our technicians have traveled around the world to build out data centers in Singapore and Amsterdam. I joined SoftLayer as general manager of the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, and when I took a trip to Dallas to meet the rest of the team, Kevin was able to convince me to answer a few questions on video about what's been going on in Singapore:

Asia is the largest growth market for SoftLayer right now, and the flood of orders we've had to keep up with in our Singapore branch is a testament to the customer demand in that region. With our ambitious growth plans and early successes in SNG, you'll be seeing a lot of SoftLayermobiles delivering servers around the world pretty soon. Maybe we need a SoftLayerOceanTanker?

When I made trip to Dallas, I met Jonathan Wisler, another newly hired SLayer responsible for the Amsterdam data center and our future Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) expansion. Because I didn't want him to feel left out, I selected him as my successor in the next 3 Bars 3 Questions interview.

If you have any questions about SoftLayer in Asia, our Singapore data center or Singapore in general, just let me know.

-Michael

October 21, 2011

Why Don't You Work Here Yet?

I started my career with SoftLayer in March 2011 as a Server Build Technician, and after a few short months, I can safely say that coming here was one of the best moves I have ever made in my life. I have worked in a number of different jobs ranging from retail to shipping, but in my heart, I always knew I wanted a career in computer technology. SoftLayer made that dream come true.

When I started, I felt a bit overwhelmed with the amount of information I had to learn all at once. That feeling quickly subsided during the first week as I realized how the work environment and culture is built on employees who take great pride both what they do and the knowledge they are able to pass on to newcomers. I knew I was in good hands. I felt like I was a part of an elite group of intelligent, inspiring, funny, energetic and down to earth people.

Through the interactions I've had with my direct coworkers, my knowledge has grown tremendously, and I feel more confident in meeting and exceeding the expectations and responsibilities in front of me. The original SoftLayer culture is alive and well thanks to the efforts and example of the management team, and it doesn't take long to notice that this company has a passion for customer service, and we strive to be the very best we can be. Because of the encouragement and optimism I have been given, I see a bright future for me here.

As our operations expand, I can't help but get excited for the success in store for the business, our team and our customers. We're ready to embrace new challenges, and though the tasks seem daunting, I know our team can handle them easily. I take great pride in my work, and I'm quick to tell the SoftLayer story to anyone who will listen. The company motto is, "Innovate or Die," and every employee – from Dallas to Amsterdam to San Jose to Singapore – lives and breathes that motto daily. We're pushing the limits of what a "hosting company" can do, and we're having a lot of fun doing it.

I feel honored to say that I am a part of the SoftLayer family, and if you're in the market for a new job for an awesome employer, you should head to SoftLayer Careers to find which of the 50+ positions you'd fit so you can join us in Dallas, Houston, San Jose, Seattle, Singapore, Amsterdam or Washington, D.C.

We are SoftLayer!

-Anthony

October 9, 2011

Getting Started as a Server Build Technician

When I was interviewed for a job as Server Build Technician (SBT) in Dallas, I was a little concerned that I was getting in over my head. I let my potential manager know that I had very little experience with Linux but that I was willing to learn. I tried to show that I'd be a quick study, and the interview must have gone well because by the end of the day, I was offered the job. I was really excited to know that SoftLayer was willing to take give me an opportunity to finally start pursuing a career path in technology (which is what I was looking for out of school).

As it turns out, I was the only female SBT in SoftLayer's Dallas-area data centers, so I felt a good amount of pressure to prove myself and step up my game. Luckily, my training took away a lot of those nerves, and it was also comforting to see that no matter where I was working (data center or office), I was welcomed by my coworkers. It didn't hurt that I met some really cool people in the process, too. From day one, I realized that I'd been given an amazing opportunity to learn from some really smart folks who know their stuff when it comes to everything related to technology.

I have been here for around six months, and I can't believe how much tech knowledge I've absorbed. I wouldn't claim to be an expert in Linux or a MySQL guru (yet), but if my experience here is any indication, it won't be too long before I know everything there is to know about every technology living in our data centers. When I run into a problem or a question I don't have the answer for, I can rely on my coworkers to have the solutions and break them down into terms I can understand if they're overly complex.

Would I recommend this job to others? Most definitely! This has been one of the best jobs that I've ever had. I've been able to take what I learned in school and actually apply it to my daily work life while continuing my real-world on-the-job education. If you have a server in DAL02 and need someone to check out the hardware or add some RAM, I might be the one jumping to get your request fulfilled quickly.

I'm proof that SoftLayer invests in its employees, so if you're interested in an amazing job for a company who values you, I want you to be a coworker! We have positions in all departments available in Dallas, Houston, Singapore, Amsterdam, San Jose, Seattle and Washington, D.C. (and probably more location in the near future), so keep an eye on the SoftLayer Careers page for the perfect opportunity to join our team.

-Rochelle

September 25, 2011

Learning the Language of Hosting

It's been a little over a month since I started at SoftLayer ... And what a difference a month makes. In the course of applying for the Social Media Coordinator position I now hold, I was asked to write a few sample blogs. One was supposed to be about what SoftLayer does, and I answered it to the best of my abilities at the time. Looking back on my answer, I must admit I had no idea what I was getting into.

On the plus side, comparing what I know now with what I thought I knew then shows how much a person with zero background in hosting can learn in a short period of time. To give you an idea of where I came from, let's look at a few theoretical conversations:

Pre-SoftLayer

Friend: What does SoftLayer do?
Rachel: They are a hosting provider.
Friend: What is a hosting provider?
Rachel: It's sort of like an Internet landlord that rents data space to clients ... I think.

Present Day

Friend: What is it you do?
Rachel: I'm the Social Media Coordinator for SoftLayer Technologies.
Friend: What does SoftLayer do?
Rachel: SoftLayer is a hosting provider, however that is a generalization. We have data centers around the country and are expanding worldwide. The company offers dedicated, cloud and hybrid environments that allow us to handle companies outsourced IT. We are infrastructure experts.

That would be a little bit of a cookie cutter explanation, but it gives a lot more context to the business, and it would probably soar above the head of my non-technical inquisitive friend.

During my first week on the job, I visited one of SoftLayer's data centers ... And that "data center" term turned out to be a little tricky for me to remember. For some reason, I always wanted to call the data center a "database center." It got to the point where Kevin challenged me to a piggy bank deal.

SoftLayer is raising money for the American Heart Association, and everyone has a little piggy bank at their desk. One of the piggy banks essentially became a "swear jar" ... except not for swearing. Every time I said "database center," I had to put a dollar in the piggy bank. The deal was extended when I was trying to remember that 1 byte (big B) = 8 bits (little b):

AHA Piggy Bank

With money on the line, I'm happy to say that I haven't confused "database centers" or bits and bytes again ... And the piggy bank on the left-hand side of the picture above proves it!

Back to the DC (data center!) tour: I learned about how CRAC units are used to pull air underneath the floor and cool the "cold aisles" in the DC. I learned about the racks and how our network architecture provides private, public, and out–of–band management networks on the back end to customers in a way unique to SoftLayer. Most importantly, I learned the difference between managed, dedicated, cloud and hosting environments that incorporate all of those different kinds of hosting. This is a far cry from focusing on getting the terminology correct.

I'm still not an expert on all things SoftLayer, and I'm pretty sure I'll end up with my very own acronym dictionary, but I must admit that I absorbed more information in the past month than I thought possible. I have to thank my ninja sensei, Kevin, for taking the time to answer my questions. It felt like school again ... especially since there was a whiteboard in use!

Kevin, enjoy your empty piggy bank!

-Rachel

August 22, 2011

Changing the (YouTube) Channel

As one of the newest members to the SoftLayer family, let me make something clear: One of the biggest changes in SoftLayer's social media presence is directly a result of me. Okay ... well I might not have directly initiated the change, but I like to think that when you're a new kid on the block, you have to stick together with the other new editions. My new BFF and partner in crime at SL is the SoftLayer Channel on YouTube. He's replaced SoftLayerTube Channel (though I should be clear that I haven't replaced anyone ... just become a big help to our registered Social Media Ninja KHazard).

This blog is my first major contribution to the InnerLayer, and when I was asked to write it I must admit I was very excited. On literally my 6th day of work, my hope was to make a major impact or at least prove that a ninja-in-training (that would be me) can hold her own with a full-fledged ninja ... but I digress. The real reason I'm here is to talk about our move from SoftLayerTube to SoftLayer. With a little YouTube wizardry and some help from our friends in Mountain View, CA, we've been able to take the help of the better-branded /SoftLayer account.

Don't worry, you are not going to lose any of your favorite SL videos ... They're just taking a permanent trip to the SoftLayer channel.

TL;DR Version
Old and busted: /SoftLayerTube

New SL YouTube Channel

New Hotness: /SoftLayer

New SL YouTube Channel

Subscribe!

-Rachel

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