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May 5, 2016

Everything you need to know about IBM POWER8 on SoftLayer

SoftLayer provides industry-leading cloud Infrastructure as a Service from a growing number of data centers around the world. To enable clients to draw critical insights and make better decisions faster, now there’s even more good news—customers and partners can use and rely on the secure, flexible, and open platform of IBM POWER Systems, which have just become available in SoftLayer’s DAL09 data center.

POWER8 servers are built with a processor designed and optimized specifically for big data workloads combining compute power, cutting-edge memory bandwidth, and I/O in ways that result in increased levels of performance, resiliency, availability, and security.

IBM POWER systems were designed to run many of the most demanding enterprise applications, industry-specific solutions, relational database management systems, and high performance computing environments. POWER8 servers are an ideal system for Linux and support a vast ecosystem of OpenSource, ISV, and IBM SW Unit products, giving clients a single, industry-leading open architecture (IBM POWER) in which to store, retrieve, and derive value from the “gold mine” of next generation applications.

The new POWER8 servers available from SoftLayer offer an optimal hybrid cloud infrastructure to test new Linux workloads in a secure and isolated cloud environment with reduced risk. As clients explore newer use cases like advanced analytics, machine learning, and cognitive computing against the combination of vast amounts of both structured and unstructured data, POWER8 and SoftLayer are in a unique position to accelerate client value. This new offering will also continue to leverage the rapidly expanding community of developers contributing to the OpenPOWER ecosystem as well as thousands of independent software vendors that support Linux on Power applications.

With the explosive growth of both structured and unstructured data, it requires businesses to derive insights and change faster than ever to keep pace. The cloud enables you to do just that. Our new and unique solution pairs SoftLayer’s Network-Within-a-Network topology for true out-of-band access, an easy-to-use customer portal, and robust APIs for full remote access of all product and service management options—with the unique high performance technology from IBM POWER8 to help accelerate the creation and delivery of the next generation of IT solutions.    

For more details, visit our POWER8 servers page.

 

-Chuck Calio,  IBM Power Systems Growth Solution Specialist

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March 2, 2016

The SLayer Standard Vol. 2, No. 6: IBM InterConnect 2016 Round-Up

Another IBM InterConnect is in the books! As we get back to our daily routines, let’s reminisce on the announcements, innovations, and fun from last week in Vegas.

The conference started with some big news at the General Session. A new partnership between VMware and IBM was announced, letting you move to IBM Cloud while preserving your existing IT investments.

But that was only the tip of the iceberg; Robert LeBlanc, SVP of IBM Cloud, revealed several other major partnerships. The list included new relationships with Apple, GitHub, and Bitly, among others. Catch up with a breakdown of the major stories. Beyond the General Session, day one was full of breakout sessions, Solutions EXPO activities, and more.

 

Tuesday’s General Session focused on the topic of transformation. Our experts and customers took to the main stage at Mandalay Bay to talk about advancements in IT infrastructure for companies as vital to the adapting to change in the enterprise structure. The debut of the Server Challenge 3 also began to heat up on Tuesday, as buzz about Robert LeBlanc’s top score made the rounds.

The General Session on Wednesday focused on change and growth using IBM Watson, IBM Bluemix, and SoftLayer. The day was topped off by a performance from Sir Elton John, who rocked the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Looking for more information on all the action from IBM InterConnect 2016? Check out IBM Cloud’s daily highlights blog. See you next year, Las Vegas!

-Rachel

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February 16, 2016

The SLayer Standard Vol. 2, No. 5: IBM InterConnect 2016 Edition

IBM InterConnect is almost here! To help you get the most out of your time at the conference (and so you’ll spend less time looking at your phone or conference guide), we’re giving you all the need-to-know info so you can keep up with us in Vegas.

The Top 10 SoftLayer Sessions at InterConnect

With so many sessions at InterConnect, it is easy to miss the best ones. To hone in on your session selections, we’ve made a list of our top 10 SoftLayer sessions (in our humble opinion). With more than 60 SoftLayer-related sessions to choose from, this will point you in the right direction. You won’t want to miss any of these: 

CCI-6675: Bringing High Performance Computing Capabilities to the Cloud
Jerry Gutierrez, Global HPC Sales Leader, SoftLayer, an IBM Company  & Todd Mostak, MapD
Monday, February 22 @ 10:30 am — Breakers G — Mandalay Bay SOUTH

CSD-6379: Cloud Infrastructure Directions: Save Time and Money by Exploiting IBM SoftLayer
Marc Jones, CTO Softlayer, an IBM Company
Monday, February 22 @ 12:00 pm — Mandalay Ballroom A — Mandalay Bay SOUTH

CCI-5348: Infrastructure as a Toolbox
Phil Jackson, Manager Sales Engineering, SoftLayer, an IBM Company
Monday, February 22 @ 12:00 pm — Breakers K — Mandalay Bay SOUTH

CCI-4061: SoftLayer Versus the Competition: A Price/Performance Evaluation of Cloud Providers
Matt Walli, Consulting Performance Engineer, IBM & Dan Lucky, Micro Strategies Inc.
Monday, February 22 @ 3:00 pm — Breakers K — Mandalay Bay SOUTH

DDD-3106: Elevate Your Continuous Delivery Strategy Above the Rolling Clouds
Michael Elder, Senior Technical Staff Member, IBM
Tuesday, February 23 @ 8:30 am — Mandalay Ballroom K — Mandalay Bay SOUTH

CCI-6240: NGames Shares Good Gaming Industry Experiences from Working With IBM SoftLayer
Sandala Wang, Mid- Market Client Rep, IBM
Tuesday, February 23 @ 10:00 am — Breakers K — Mandalay Bay SOUTH

CCI-2831: Everyday Infrastructure Challenges for Your Enterprise That Vanish with IBM SoftLayer
Sravan Akkapelly, Miracle Software Systems, Inc.
Wednesday, February 24 @ 10:00 am — Mandalay Ballroom D — Mandalay Bay SOUTH

YPS-2751: The Hybrid Cloud Built to Perform with POWER8 in IBM SoftLayer
Alise Spence, Power Systems Cloud Offering Manager & Bob Sullivan, Executive Project Manager - Power Integrated Offerings, IBM
Wednesday, February 24 @ 1:15 pm — Lagoon J — Mandalay Bay SOUTH

CLD-5118: Taking the Next Hot Mobile Game Live with Docker and IBM SoftLayer
Daniel Krook, Senior Software Engineer & Shaun Murakami, Lead Architect - IBM Cloud Labs, IBM; Scott Porter, Firemonkeys; Lennart Goedhart, Electronic Arts (EA) Melbourne Firemonkeys
Wednesday, February 24th @ 3:45 pm — Breakers L — Mandalay Bay SOUTH

CBP-4461: Integrating Private Cloud into Your Enterprise
Christopher Von Koschembahr, Executive IT Management Consultant, IBM & Melissa Maheux, TriDatum Solutions
Wednesday, February 24th @ 4:45 pm — Breakers J — Mandalay Bay SOUTH

The IBM Cloud Zone

When you’re in Mandalay Bay, drop in to the Solution Expo (South Convention Center, Level 1, Bayside C&D) and head over to the IBM Cloud Zone. That’s where you’ll find the Bluemix and SoftLayer hub. We’ll be doing live demos, showing you the power of our infrastructure in action. You’ll also find the beloved Server Challenge there—with a twist. 

Want more details on the Solution Expo? Download the IBM Events App for Android or Apple for even more conference details. 

Party time at IBM InterConnect

All work and no play make IBMers a dull bunch. After busy days at the conference, we’ll kick back, relax, and enjoy a performance from The Rocket Man himself, Sir Elton John! On Wednesday, February 24, IBM InterConnect and Rocket are sponsoring a performance just for IBM InterConnect attendees.

Prefer to shake it? Dust off those dancin’ shoes on Wednesday, February 24 and party like only IBM can at Hakkasan. From 8:00–10:00 pm, a bash featuring five levels of dance floors, DJs, food, private VIP spots, and your fellow InterConnect attendees caps off the night. Your badge is your ticket to the party.

See you next week in Las Vegas!

-Rachel  

 

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February 2, 2016

The SLayer Standard Vol. 2, No. 4

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

What does Marc Jones have to say about SoftLayer?

Our CTO Marc Jones sat down for an interview with Angel Diaz, IBM VP Cloud Technology & Architecture, host of IBM Cloud Dragon Dojo Series. Marc discusses his start at SoftLayer, the benefits of the SoftLayer cloud platform, dark fiber matter, and the importance of global reach. Instead of telling you what he said, you can watch it. 

Find a bit more about it here

IBM Watson business gets a new general manager.

IBM’s acquisition of the Weather Company is now complete, and that means a few changes are afoot. First, all of the Weather Company’s workloads are now running in IBM Cloud data centers. And second, David Kenny, who was the Weather Company CEO, is now in charge of Watson business.

In his new role, Kenny says his primary objective is to make Watson an even more robust platform and a leader in cognitive computing. In TechCrunch, he noted that the weather platform is not just about weather data. The massive amount of data that The Weather Channel takes in is used across various industries to help both companies and consumers make well-educated choices. All of this data will also be a boon to Watson as IBM continues to grow the AI platform with the Weather Company’s data sets.

“Obviously we ingest more weather data than others and process it in the cloud for pilots, insurers or farmers or ordinary citizens to make better informed decisions. But that platform can be reused for other unstructured data sets… this will be helpful for IBM in other business areas. What we have figured out at the Weather Company, and IBM will continue to explore across more IoT applications, is how to take data from lots of places and turn that into decisions to help make things work,” Kenny said.

Find out more about it here.

-Rachel  

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January 25, 2016

The SLayer Standard Vol. 2, No. 3

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

UStream joins the IBM family.
IBM has announced an exciting new addition to the family. We would like to welcome UStream to the team and a new cloud video services unit they will join. TechCrunch reported, “Braxton Jarratt, who came to IBM as part of the ClearLeap deal, has been chosen to run this new unit. He says UStream gives the company that missing streaming piece that allows them to form this unit with a full-service enterprise video offering.”

Jarrett also said that IBM “plans to incorporate other pieces like Watson for analytics, something that customers were asking for around video delivery at CES earlier this month. They want to know information like how long people are engaged and what kinds of actions they can take to stop churn.”

Get for information on the deal here.

IBM Watson is the future of artificial intelligence.
The head of IBM Watson, Mike Rhodin sat down for an interview with Forbes to talk about the future of artificial intelligence.

Since Watson’s appearance on Jeopardy!, it started a time that Rhodin considers “in-market experimentation.” During that time they worked with major names in the healthcare industry that “wanted to start to experiment with the technology–not to play Jeopardy!, but to use the underlying technology to start to solve problems.”

Rhodin noted, “The second thing that was a key decision about the launch of the commercial project was the creation of an open ecosystem: we would open up the APIs on platforms so that startups could get access to the technology and start to build out businesses on top of it.” This led to the beginning of the Watson Group made up of a few customers and a little group of startups who utilized the technology. That is when the ecosystem project took off.

Learn more about how Watson works and where it is going here.

-Rachel

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January 18, 2016

The SLayer Standard Vol. 2, No. 2

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

Ford and IBM team up to take the hassle out of driving.
Ford announced a partnership with IBM Cloud to start a new platform to analyze transportation data. In an article by TechCrunch, “The new platform will use IBM’s cloud computing platform to analyze small slices of data to look for patterns and trends that could help drivers make better decisions about their driving—or whether they should maybe use another means of transportation.”

Ford began testing the platform to run its Dynamic Shuttle model on the Ford campus. Ford explains, “Should one of the Transit vans experience a malfunction that triggers a warning light, the platform will be able to start routing requests away from that vehicle to other Transits in service—allowing another shuttle to redeploy to keep all riders on schedule.”

Learn more about how Ford and IBM are helping drivers here.

Bluemix Social Sentiment App set to better fan experience at Australian Open.
The entire Australian Open 2016 experience will be hosted by IBM’s Continuous Available Services. In a blog post from IBM Bluemix Dev, “The component that provides a social endpoint, Social Sentiment Application, for fan experiences is hosted on a Bluemix hybrid cloud that follows several design principles: Cognitive Design, Microservices, High Availability, Parallel Functions and Disaster Avoidance.”

One highlight of the cognitive design is that it will allow for an engaging user experience, further developing the interactivity between people and machines. The post notes, “The system enables humans and machines to understand the crowd and their opinions focused around tennis players. Over time, the trend of tennis player sentiment is displayed through IBM’s SlamTracker, which learns player popularity movement. Humans interact with the Social Sentiment Application through Twitter, which has a direct impact on social sentiment.

Read more about the application’s design principles here.

IBM named a hybrid cloud leader by Forrester and Synergy.
Reports from both Forrester and Synergy Research highlighted IBM’s continued cloud growth in the hybrid arena. “These new reports further underscore the momentum IBM has gained among its customers that are increasingly turning to IBM for help connecting cloud services and applications to core systems that may always remain on-premises, due to such factors as regulatory compliance, control and cost.”

Forrester’s report studied many hybrid cloud solutions and noted, “Leaders such as IBM offer deep and broad support for pre-built application and infrastructure templates, powerful provisioning and configuration management, role-based controls, and rich cost, performance, and capacity management features.”

Learn more about Forrester’s and Synergy’s findings here.

-Rachel

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January 12, 2016

The SLayer Standard Vol. 2, No. 1

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

AT&T’s data comes to IBM.
IBM and AT&T announced an expansion of their current partnership. According to the press release, “AT&T will transition its managed application and managed hosting services unit to IBM. IBM will then align these managed service capabilities with the IBM Cloud portfolio.” Philip Guido, IBM General Manager of Global Technology Services for North America, said, "Working with AT&T, we will deliver a robust set of IBM Cloud and managed services that can continuously evolve to meet clients' business objectives."

When the deal closes, managed applications and managed hosting services AT&T offers will be delivered by IBM. “AT&T will continue to provide networking services including security, cloud networking, and mobility that it provides today. And the two companies will work closely to innovate and deliver a full suite of integrated solutions to customers.”

Read the rest of the details in the official press release.

Welcome to Munich, Watson IoT.
The Watson IoT business unit is getting a new home. Last week, IBM announced the “launch of a new global headquarters” in Munich. The new home base “will be the centerpiece of a group of eight global regional customer centers that suggest IBM plans to win major IoT business by deemphasizing its American roots.” Building trust with European companies is a vital part of this new office. Frank Gillett, a Forrester analyst said, “A traditional mainline tech company has plunked down in Europe to say, we are firmly with you, we are rooting ourselves in your environment to work with you.”

Gillett also said with IBM’s announcement “signaled the most strongly of any of the vendors when it comes to investment and organizational structure and headquarters. Now they have to execute and deliver.”

Get more information about the new office here.

Watson is the rise of the thinking machine.
IBM Watson VP, Steve Gold, sat down with Forbes to talk about where Watson is headed in 2016.

With the announcement of several new partnerships, IBM plans to put Watson’s cognitive capabilities to use solving a wide array of issues worldwide. Gold said, “At the start of 2014 we had three partners, and today we have over 300.” The article notes, “Watson is already in operation across 26 industries, including financial services, travel and retail in 36 countries, and its uptake is continuing to accelerate.”

The partnerships with Twitter, Softbank, and Mubadala, just to name a few, will further develop Watson’s cognitive growth. That’s because “cognitive computers don’t need to be programmed—they can learn for themselves.”

Get the full article here.

-Rachel

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December 30, 2015

Using Ansible on SoftLayer to Streamline Deployments

Many companies today are leveraging new tools to automate deployments and handle configuration management. Ansible is a great tool that offers flexibility when creating and managing your environments.

SoftLayer has components built within the Ansible codebase, which means continued support for new features as the Ansible project expands. You can conveniently pull your SoftLayer inventory and work with your chosen virtual servers using the Core Ansible Library along with the SoftLayer Inventory Module. Within your inventory list, your virtual servers are grouped by various traits, such as “all virtual servers with 32GB of RAM,” or “all virtual servers with a domain name of softlayer.com.” The inventory list provides different categorized groups that can be expanded upon. With the latest updates to the SoftLayer Inventory Module, you can now get a list of virtual servers by tags, as well as work with private virtual servers. You can then use each of the categories provided by the inventory list within your playbooks.

So, how can you work with the new categories (such as tags) if you don’t yet have any inventory or a deployed infrastructure within SoftLayer? You can use the new SoftLayer module that’s been added to the Ansible Extras Project. This module provides the ability to provision virtual servers within a playbook. All you have to do is supply the build detail information for your virtual server(s) within your playbook and go.

Let’s look at an example playbook. You’ll want to specify a hostname along with a domain name when defining the parameters for your virtual server(s). The hostname can have an incremental number appended at the end of it if you’re provisioning more than one virtual server; e.g., Hostname-1, Hostname-2, and so on. You just need to specify a value True for the parameter increment. Incremental naming offers the ability to uniquely name virtual servers within your playbook, but is also optional in the case where you want similar hostnames. Notice that you can also specify tags for your virtual servers, which is handy when working with your inventory in future playbooks.

Following is a sample playbook for building Ubuntu virtual servers on SoftLayer:

---
- name: Build Tomcat Servers
  hosts: localhost
  gather_facts: False
  tasks:
  - name: Build Servers
    local_action:
      module: softlayer
      quantity: 2
      increment: True
      hostname: www
      domain: test.com
      datacenter: mex01
      tag: tomcat-test
      hourly: True
      private: False
      dedicated: False
      local_disk: True
      cpus: 1
      memory: 1024
      disks: [25]
      os_code: UBUNTU_LATEST
      ssh_keys: [12345]

By default, your playbook will pause until each of your virtual servers completes provisioning before moving onto the next plays within your playbook. You can specify the wait parameter to False if you choose not to wait for the virtual servers to complete provisioning. The wait parameter is helpful for when you want to build many virtual servers, but some have different characteristics such as RAM or tag naming. You can also set the maximum time you want to wait on the virtual servers by setting the wait_timeout parameter, which takes an integer defining the number of seconds to wait.

Once you’re finished using your virtual servers, canceling them is as easy as creating them. Just specify a new playbook step with a state of absent, as well as specifying the virtual server ID or tags to know which virtual servers to cancel.

The following example will cancel all virtual servers on the account with a tag of tomcat-test:

- name: Cancel Servers
  hosts: localhost
  gather_facts: False
  tasks:
  - name: Cancel by tag
    local_action:
      module: softlayer
      state: absent
      tag: tomcat-test

New features are being developed with the core inventory library to bring additional functionality to Ansible on SoftLayer. These new developments can be found by following the Core Ansible Project hosted on Github. You can also follow the Ansible Extras Project for updates to the SoftLayer module.

As of this blog post, the new SoftLayer module is still pending inclusion into the Ansible Extras Project. Click here to check out the current pull request for the latest code and samples.

-Matt

December 21, 2015

Introducing API release notes and examples library

The website to find out what new and exciting changes are happening on the SoftLayer platform is now softlayer.github.io. Specifically, this website highlights any changes to the customer portal, the API, and any supporting systems. Please continue to rely on tickets created on your account for information regarding any upcoming maintenances and other service impacting events.

At SoftLayer, we follow agile development principles and release code in small but frequent iterations—usually about two every week. The changes featured in release notes on softlayer.github.io only cover what is publicly accessible. So while they may seem small, there are usually a greater number of behind-the-scenes changes happening.

Along with the release notes are a growing collection of useful example scripts on how to actually use the API in a variety of popular languages. While the number of examples is currently small, we are constantly adding examples as they come up, so keep checking back. We are generally inspired to add examples by the questions posted on Stack Overflow that have the SoftLayer tag, so keep posting your questions there, too.

-Chris

December 14, 2015

The SLayer Standard Vol. 1, No. 23

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

Grocery store chain comes to SoftLayer.
We are excited to have Giant Eagle moving to our infrastructure. So why are they moving away from building their data centers? Jeremy Gill, Giant Eagle’s senior director of technology infrastructure, said, “The firm's focus has shifted to infrastructure-as-a-service for its future computing needs as an answer to the geographic spread of its users. It chose IBM over other providers because it offered both virtual servers and bare-metal servers on which Giant Eagle could run some of its legacy applications.”

Giant Eagle plans to transition their secondary data center used for disaster recovery to SoftLayer over the next 12 months. Gill also noted that moving to the cloud will help to develop their current disaster recovery system. In doing so, they’ll be “adding additional resiliency.” In an article by InformationWeek said, “The disaster recovery system, instead of being asleep in storage, will be represented by a virtual machine, running at idle, but ready to receive data and be scaled out.” Gill further noted, “The goal is to get the recovery time objective down from one or several hours to 15 minutes or less (possibly even instant recovery).”

Get more details here.

IBM Cloud leaves competitors in the dust.
The results of a recent independent study, Amazon.com and Microsoft are a step behind IBM’s cloud offering.

The independent research firm’s goal was to “measure the performance and relative cost of the cloud industry's biggest players. The objective of the study was two-fold: one, determine which of the cloud kings offered the most operations per second. Second, compare the relative cost for each operation performed. Not only did IBM's SoftLayer bare metal platform win the day -- it turns out it wasn't even close.”

So why is it a big deal? If you look at it based solely on performance, the study found IBM is far and above its competitors. The survey said, “For each dollar spent on IBM's SoftLayer bare metal cloud platform, its customers enjoy 4.63 billion operations.” It also highlighted, “That's a lot of bang for the buck, particularly compared to other cloud providers. Amazon.com's AWS customers get about a third fewer operations for each dollar spent, and Microsoft about a tenth.”

Read more about the study in The Motley Fool’s article.

-Rachel

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