Introductions Posts

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

November 18, 2010

Tweet Tweet ... Tweet?

If I've timed this submission right, I'll be the first person with a byline on the SoftLayer blog from the new SoftLayer office in downtown Houston. I'm part of an esteemed group of new employees who had The Planet business cards until last week, and I'm excited about the opportunity to subject a new group of readers to my abundant arsenal of esoteric references and feeble attempts at humor. I've joined SoftLayer's marketing team, and I'll be focused on our social media outreach.

Don't worry, this post isn't going to feature any of those "I like long walks on the beach, red wine and dinner by candlelight" introductory tidbits you usually get when you meet a new person on a blog. We're diving right into the good stuff. Today's topic: SoftLayer on Twitter.

If you've been around for a while, you already know a lot about SoftLayer's official Twitter accounts, but because a new crowd of customers might be checking out the InnerLayer for the first time, let's step back and look at each account. By sharing our purpose for each of our accounts, you know what to expect when you click the "follow" button.

@SoftLayer: http://twitter.com/softlayer
This is the big kahuna. The @SoftLayer account is your primary company contact on Twitter. If you have a question, send it to @SoftLayer. If you want information about a ticket, send it to @SoftLayer. If you want a haircut ... you should probably go to a barber. Because @SoftLayer account has the widest reach, you'll learn more about the company and our offerings here, and when you need a response from SoftLayer, this is one of the first places you should look.

@SoftLayer_News: http://twitter.com/softlayer_news
Now that the merger is complete, we have more than 76,000 deployed servers in 10 data centers with more than 1,500 Gbps of network connectivity. Wherever we go, we'll be making waves, and the @SoftLayer_News account will try to keep up with all of our coverage. When we post a press release or announce a product, followers of @SoftLayer_News will hear it first.

@SoftLayer_Sales: http://twitter.com/softlayer_sales
@SoftLayer_Sales is where we teach the art of bonsai tree trimming. Actually, that's a lie ... Unless you can think of a server sales-related question involving bonsai tree trimming, you won't read anything on that topic. It's actually your one-stop shop for SoftLayer server specials and your Twitter contact for anything and everything sales-related.

@SLChat: http://twitter.com/slchat
A new addition to the SoftLayer Twitter team, the @SLChat account is designed to help us communicate directly with users. With more than 24,000 customers, we might have several simultaneous conversations going at a given time. Previously, if you reached out to us on Twitter, we'd reply to messages from one of the accounts above, but as our user base grows and our Twitter follower count increases, we don't want to spam those primary channels with updates that may only be relevant to one customer. By adding @SLChat, we're improving the signal-to-noise ratio on all of our other accounts.

SoftLayer is built around a social media culture. If you know where to look, you'll see our executive management team checking in at the office and retweeting great press coverage we've gotten. Those updates can be fun and interesting in their own right, but they point to an even more important truth: As a company, we want to be engaged with our community so we can learn from it. If you've got something to say, we want to hear it. Post a comment, send a DM, tweet an @ reply, leave a wall post, send a carrier pigeon ... We're listening.

-@khazard

October 4, 2010

SoftLayer Fire Hose

Hi. My name is Mark Quigley, and I am a new Softlayer employee. In specific, I will be running the company’s analyst relations program. This is my first week with the company, and the fire hose has not yet been turned off. In fact, I think that this has been among the most intense weeks of my working life.

Softlayer moves at a pace that I am not overly familiar with given time I have spent with some very large (and inevitably slow moving) companies. It has been a pleasure to find myself in a group of 'quick-thinking doers' versus 'thinkers that spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing.' I have seen fewer PowerPoint decks and Excel spreadsheets this week than I thought was possible. It makes for a pleasant change, and change is a good thing (My wardrobe has also undergone a SoftLayer transformation. It now features black shirts and some more black shirts).

The week began with the announcement that SoftLayer had launched its second Dallas data center. The data center (DAL05) has capacity for 15,000 servers, delivers 24x7 onsite support, and has multiple security protocols controlling entrance to the facility. The diesel generators that sit outside are massive – think of a locomotive on steroids. DAL05 is fully connected to SoftLayer's data centers at the INFOMART in Dallas, in Seattle, Washington, and in the Washington D.C. area in addition to the company’s network Points of Presence in seven additional U.S. cities.

The reason for the expansion is simple – Softlayer continues to grow. In fact, our new office location would appear to be mostly a home for large generators and server racks in the future than it is for people (there are more of those to come, too). Current plans call for the addition of two more pods to DAL05 to come alive over the next 18 - 24 months. In addition a facility in San Jose is expected to go live early in 2011 and we are in the midst of international expansion plans. There is a lot going on around here.

I think it is interesting to step back for a second and take a look at what is driving this growth. The fact that SoftLayer is ruthlessly efficient, allowing customers to get from 0 to 60 faster than anyone else is certainly one reason. So are the fantastic support processes that are in place. The guys around here are very good at what they do. That being said this is a time when a rising tide is raising all ships. And this is a good thing. I mean, we want to beat our competition with every time we see them across the table, but we are glad that there are enjoying their share of success because it means the marketplace is booming. Even better, it is showing no sign of letting up.

The changes that we have witnessed in the past fifteen years are nothing short of staggering. I remember sending faxes to clients as the primary means of document exchange and then being thrilled at the notion of a single AOL account via dial up being shared by five people in the office. Now I have access to the internet via at least two devices in the office and one when I am not. At home I surf the net and watch content streamed via NetFlix over my iPad. My son plays the PS3 online with his pals, my daughter spends time watching Dora the Explorer on the Nick Jr. website and my wife has reopened countless friendships with high school friends that she has not seen in decades via Facebook. I don't think that I am unusual in my habits either. None of this happened ten years ago.

The most recent wave has come with the arrival of social networking sites (which had a much different definition when I was young!) and associated applications. Companies like Twitter and Facebook has driven a terrific amount of innovation, and continues to do so. So too have companies like Apple – music downloads and application downloads are now in the billions. The net result of this has been in a terrific amount of business for companies like SoftLayer. I mean, who ever thought that on-line farming would drive as much interest, traffic and money as it has? And the really cool part of all of this is that the world my kids will occupy in ten years is going to be richer than mine by at least an order of magnitude. SoftLayer will be there to make it all work. It is going to be a fun ride.

-@quigleymar

September 30, 2010

What is a Cloud?

What is a Cloud? This seems like a simple question that would have a simple answer. If you ask this question amongst your “techie” friends you will find similar yet different definitions on what cloud computing actually is. I can say this because it just recently happened to me and it turned out to be a very interesting conversation. There is no single industry accepted definition as of yet so here is my take on what cloud computing is.

Cloud computing is accessing IT resources that are owned and operated by a third-party provider in one or more data centers such as SoftLayer. They feature on-demand provisioning (as fast as 5 minutes at SoftLayer) and pay as you go billing with minimal upfront investment. It is a great way to deliver cost effective computing power over the Internet. It will minimize capital expense and tie operating expense to actual use. I do think that many cloud offerings are really no more than your common managed hosting being marketed as clouds.

Cloud services can be categorized into different models such as Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas). There are also two types of deployment models. You can have a public cloud which is a “multi-tenant” environment. The physical servers are shared among multiple customers of the cloud. The other type of deployment is the private cloud. Only one customer would be utilizing the physical server or servers.

That is my definition of “what is a cloud.” A wise man once told me that cloud computing is really nothing more than another pricing model and delivery model.

Categories: 
May 12, 2010

First Blog

So this is my first blog here at SoftLayer. I’ve worked here since February, but I am certainly very familiar with the industry. In a previous life I formed the sales department at one of our competitors and learned about the industry. Even though I worked at a competitor, I never heard anyone speak badly about SoftLayer, and in fact it was the ‘bar’ by which we measured ourselves.

Now that I work here, it is even more apparent how and why SoftLayer is the most respected name in the hosting industry. SoftLayer overall has the best reputation due to its people, innovations, dedication, and motivation of the entire team.

I work in the Customer Service department, and it is my responsibility to contact new clients to ensure that they are not running into any problems and to get some feedback on their experience thus far. I have heard virtually nothing but praise from any client I have spoken to (new or old) about their experiences here.

All in all, the only better thing than hosting at SoftLayer is to work at SoftLayer!

March 10, 2010

The Case for Task Managment Systems

How many times have you received a “task” through email with no priority or due date attached? Just “Hey, do this…” with nothing more. It leaves you wondering when this particular “task” is supposed to be completed or how important this task may be. What if you’re slammed with about 5 different items at once and the email with the “task” disappears into the mass of emails you receive all day? Now you have the author of this “task” upset because their task was not completed by the time they didn’t specify in the email lost in your inbox. It’s a disaster just begging to happen.

Emails get lost. Task notes get thrown away by the cleaning crew. The dog ate my task. In using a task management system, none of these situations could ever happen.

A Task Management System is either a frightening or salvatory three words for the disorganized among us. It’s a savior for those desiring efficiency and a nightmare for those unwilling to change.

Wow, you are really convincing! So, what type of task management systems are out there? I’m glad you asked that question...

Task Management Systems range from the simplest (Ta-da Lists - http://tadalist.com/) to the more advanced (JIRA - http://www.atlassian.com/software/jira/). Both, of which, could meet your needs exceptionally well.Wow, JIRA looks really awesome! What are some pros and cons of the task management system? Another excellent question… PROS:

  • Task organization
  • Task prioritizing
  • Task collaboration between employees
  • Task status updates
  • Custom reports for Tasks
  • Task history CONS:

  • New system to learn.
  • That’s really about it, honestly.

It’s really a no brainer that the task management system is a major improvement over basic email and can bring about high efficiency in the work place.

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