Introductions Posts

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

June 13, 2011

Do You Have This in My Size?

For many people (including myself), finding a job this summer was a challenge. Looking back, my classmates and I asked so many questions: Will I find an internship? Will it be paid? Will I have to move? Will they hire me after graduation? You know ... those little details.

When I'm faced with uncertainty, I find myself asking tons of questions like those, and the night before starting my legal internship at SoftLayer, the "new question" machine went into overdrive. How early should I leave to get there on time? What projects will I have? How many hours will I work? Will I make a good impression?

Over the years, I notice that I tend to focus on that last question — "What impression will I make?" Time and time again, I've found myself answering that question by finding the perfect outfit.

What seems like ages ago (but was actually only four years ago), I began pursuing a career in fashion, so while the question, "What should I wear?" might be natural, when looking at any new job, it's probably not the right question to be asking for this one. I'm not exactly required to strut down Fifth Avenue in designer shoes to enter the office of a luxury department store (which I did one summer) ... I'm driving up to the SoftLayer headquarters in Dallas, Texas, where you're more likely to see black T-shirts than suits and ties.

Feeling unsure about whether I can "WOW" some of the brightest people in Dallas in an industry where I am a rookie, I am pretty nervous, and I'm sure everyone has been in my shoes. Some of us ask too many questions, others ask too few, and some, like me, ask the wrong ones. My advice is to focus on one simple question: "Do we fit?" To unpack those three little words a little more, "Will this company value me as much as I value it, and will I enjoy being employed here as much as they enjoy employing me? Will our relationship be mutually beneficial?"

In today's job market, some people can't afford to ask these questions, especially considering the fact that "the right fit" tends to be the toughest aspect to quantify. Hiring and accepting an offer necessarily involves some risk, and the best choice might be decided by a gut feeling. After my first week at SoftLayer, I'm happy to say that I'm sure I made the right choice.

Walking through the office, the atmosphere is laid-back, but don't be fooled. As relaxed and friendly as my coworkers are, they are also working hard, pouring themselves into the work they do. Coming from a business and a legal background, I thought this type of environment was only something I could read about in an article covering a cool new startup in BusinessWeek or the New York Times. Luckily I was wrong.

A company that values an employee's autonomy is hard to find, and it takes the right employees to not abuse that privilege. From my one week of experience here, it's clear SoftLayer has made it work, somehow finding the elusive combination of work, play, and success. That difficult important question is easy to answer: Yes, we fit ... just as perfectly as a Christian Louboutin.

-Sarah

June 1, 2011

Startup Series: Teens in Tech Labs

In my 3 Bars 3 Questions interview with Kevin a few weeks ago, I touched on the Community Development groups goals as we work with startups, incubators and customers in our Technology Partners Marketplace, and last week I had the chance to visit a young, up-and-coming incubator in the Bay Area: Teens in Tech Labs. Among some of their other projects, Teens in Tech is launching the Teens in Tech Incubator – a program built on the idea that entrepreneurship doesn't have a start age.

The incubator program lasts a little over eight weeks and is very hands on, in terms of mentor and adviser involvement. Each team invited to participate will be paired up with a group of mentors and advisers that will help during the process.

At the end of each week of the eight week program, the Teens in Tech staff will meet with each company to go over how their week went and what they think will help further build their business. Every other week, Teens in Tech will organize a dinner and have a guest speaker present to the teams ... And it gives the teams a chance to interact with each other outside of building their product.

At the end of the eight weeks, the teams will present their startups to a group of Venture Capitalists, influencers, members of the press and others at an event called "Demo Day."

Teens in Tech CEO Daniel Brusilovsky invited me to join him on a quick tour of their brand new office space in Mountain View, CA, and I made sure to grab my camera to capture the environment before the team and the incubator participants moved their stuff in:

We're happy to support Teens in Tech, and we're looking forward to seeing some of the amazing companies that'll come from the best and brightest entrepreneurs under 18 years old!

-@PaulFord

March 17, 2011

Joining the SoftLayer Family

About a month ago, I joined SoftLayer, and I feel like I've been welcomed into a big new family. I live in the Dallas area, and when I saw a listing from SoftLayer for server build technicians on craigslist, I sent in my résumé and anxiously awaited a response. Two weeks later, I got that response in the form of a phone interview with my soon-to-be manager, and since you're reading this post on SoftLayer's blog, it was clearly a great fit.

I am a Server Build Technician (SBT), and I'm part of the team responsible for building servers for new customers and maintaining our current server fleet. It's a rewarding feeling to know that the work we do helps customers we've never met (and might not ever meet) run their businesses. I personally think we have one of the most important jobs in the company, and it's one you might not ever see if you're not looking for it.

One of the most important things I was looking for when I joined SoftLayer was a company that takes pride in its people. That attitude energizes me and my fellow employees, and it really makes it fun to come to work. Maybe that's why it feels like a family. SoftLayer invests in its employees, and once you're a part of the company, you have a bright future ahead of you. Whether you're looking to move up the career path in your department or apply for a position on a different team, Lance and the management team have made it clear that they want us to succeed.

When I became a part of the SoftLayer team, I felt like I found a home away from home. The people I work with are awesome, and if you're awesome, I want you to come work with us too. SoftLayer's customer base is growing like crazy (as Tom explained in his video interview last week), so our team is growing as well.

The last time I checked, we had more than 25 available positions in in at least six different departments ... One of them is probably a great fit for you. Visit our careers page to get a full list of opportunities: http://www.softlayer.com/about/careers/

Hopefully, I'll get to meet you and welcome you to the family. Rock on!

-Dayrum

January 6, 2011

All New Everything

Just about 4 months ago we (former Planeteers) received word that we would soon be moving to a new, shiny and bright office located in North Dallas. Most responses were mixed: What does it look like? Where will I sit? Will the drinks still be cheap? What kind of coffee do they have? You know those types of questions... The "important" ones.

As the days counted down, the anticipation grew stronger. The weather outside grew colder, and the speculation about what was to be expected was roaring like a wild fire. I heard rumors of sitting in cages and construction areas and discussions about ambient office temperatures varying from "polar bear toenails" cold to "Texas July" hot all year long. It was more than a little nerve-rracking.

Finally, big-move Friday was here. I remember it like it was two months ago.

Everything that you owned and accumulated since day one had to be stuffed into a bright reddish-orange plastic crate. For me, that meant more than six years of stuff. We’re talking about documents, paperwork, chotchkies, reports, printed pdf’s, business cards, pens, technology briefs and even a few magazines. Somehow, I managed to get it all in one crate.

Movers were scheduled to arrive at our Stemmons office at 4 PM to start moving computers, phones and anything else we left on our desks. Watching them do this brought a sort of sadness because I knew that the move that we had all been anticipating was really happening. I couldn't help but think about all the years in this office, the memories and changes I was part of.

Needless to say, that lull only lasted for a few hours. I was ready for something new, something fresh: New paint, new floors, new things to learn. In two days, a lot of things were going to be different and I was ready for them. I was so ready that I actually showed up a day early just to get the lay of the land and nothing could have prepared me for what was in store.

We're talking about three buildings totaling over 120,000 square feet. I think I have counted over 20 conference rooms that are all outfitted with meeting necessary amenities. There are somewhere in the ball park of ten coffee machines with over forty different flavors of tea and coffee. I found twelve refrigerators filled to the brim with soda, green tea and Monster (the number one drink of techies). Also, during my travels, I saw at least eight water coolers, a "Sonic" ice machine, three sizes of cups and a healthy supply of my favorite Welch’s fruit snacks! This is, of course, the "important" stuff as I mentioned before.

Oh and I guess it's worth mentioning that there's a data center here as well. Soon to be three pods located right here in our HQ with 5,000 servers each and the most advanced network you have ever seen. You need gigabit? You've got it! You need 2 gigabit? OK, no problem. You need 10 gigabit? Of course. We'll have it for you in less than four hours. You want forty-five cloud servers and three dedicated servers for your MS SQL cluster with private communication between them, iSCSI and SAN replication to Washington DC with a single portal to manage all cloud instances and servers? That's a piece of cake. You want us to deploy a pod in southern California? We'll put that on our expansion roadmap [*EDIT: See Below]. You want out of band management, VPN with every account, multiple Internet backbones, and back-haul between cities for inter-city communication? Check, check, check and yep, you guessed it, Check!

I'm sixty-days old at SoftLayer, and I'm still learning new and exciting things about our infamous platform. I also still use our n00b's guide - the office map that we were provided with upon our arrival to our new office - to find people, conference rooms and printers.

It’s a new year and SoftLayer has taken on a wealth of new talent, building new DC pods concurrently in different cities while continuing to offer new features and products. With Lance at the helm, this re-born company will keep growing at alarming rates in 2011!

-Harold

P.S. Before I wrap this up, I would be remiss if I didn't note that I found one of those pre-move speculations to be true: It is colder than a polar bear's toenails in here. If you ever decide to visit, even in the heat of the Texas summer, bring a parka ... You will need it!

*EDIT: The original post said "No Problem," which was a little flippant. A lot of time, research and investment go into choosing where our next pods will come online. Right now, we're turning up pods in San Jose and Amsterdam, and if a lot of customers call for SoCal to be next, that'll definitely play into the decision-making process. In the meantime, we have a network point of presence in Los Angeles which makes all of our data centers screamingly accessible from SoCal.

November 23, 2010

Merger Anxiety

It seems like just yesterday I was writing a blog about my confessions of being a new Planeteer. After being laid off after 13 years with the same company, rumors of a merger were feeding my anxiety. I know change is inevitable, just like taxes and picking the slowest line wherever I go, but I was not ready for more shake ups just yet. I am still getting to know everyone and getting used to the company. I pride myself on avoiding office politics and gossip as much as possible, but the water cooler mongers were relentless! Should I look for a job? Will I be let go? Will I have to pursue the Wal-Mart greeter job that I am convinced would be stress free? The months since the announcement were hard. Our leaders did a great job of keeping us informed, but there was only so much information that could be shared. I continued as I always had, focused on my work and trying not to worry about what would come. There is a great saying, it is what it is. I could not stop this train and my freaking out would only bring stress to me and my family. So I took a deep breath and waited.

Last week when the signatures were in place and the “new world” was official, I found out that I was fine. My job was not impacted. I breathed a sigh of relief and immediately begin to wonder what was around the corner. It has been a hectic week. Some of my Planeteers have chosen to move on to other avenues, and some were informed they had to. With any type of business merger, there is always sorrow and joy mixed into your day. I am excited about the changes. The more I hear about what SoftLayer has to offer, the happier I am to be part of day one. The biggest focus was not to impact our customers and everyone has done a fabulous job. So as mail servers are merged and phone systems are integrated it is fun to get to know our new colleagues. We have come together as a team long before the ink was dry and I feel that each tomorrow will bring more and more excitement.

I will always think fondly of The Planet, but I will wear the SoftLayer colors with pride. After all, I have almost 12 more years to go!

-Tracy

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