News Posts

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  

Categories: 
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

Categories: 
December 7, 2015

The SLayer Standard Vol. 1, No. 22

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

IBM grows Direct Link services.
IBM is speeding up hybrid cloud adoption by expanding Direct Link services with the help of Verizon and Equinix. An article from eWeek highlights the key points and the aspects of the new services. The new services include colocation capabilities, which will allow companies to “house their own infrastructure in a secure cabinet within an IBM Cloud data center while connecting directly into the IBM Cloud network from 13 global data center locations.”

Jack Beech, VP of business development at SoftLayer, says, "With help from providers such as Verizon, Equinix and Digital Realty, we're giving clients more options for connecting to our cloud platform. Users can connect directly into our Infrastructure as a Service from their global data centers or offices using Direct Link, benefiting from a faster, more reliable and more secure connection than is typical through the public Internet."

Read more about how the new services will increase the life of existing IT investments here.

Let’s play rock-paper-scissors.
Channel your inner child and get ready to play Rock-Paper-Scissors against IBM Analytics for Apache Spark service.

So how did they build the game? The Cloud Data Services Developer Advocacy team used “the data and analytics power of Apache® Spark™. We set out to create a pattern-recognition engine that could browse a large collection of interactions to determine what would most likely be the winning move.”

With only two months to complete the application, they reached out to the IBM Design team for assistance in “how design thinking could produce very exciting results.”

Want to know what went into the architecture, player experience design, implementation with Node.js, and more? Get the details here.

What’s cooking, Watson?
Watson can do more than win Jeopardy. Turn to IBM Watson to help you plan the menu for your next meal.

Enter Chef Watson. The cognitive cooking app will assist you in creating new recipes in just a couple of clicks.

Want to try it? Start here.

-Rachel

Categories: 
December 4, 2015

New Currency Payment Options Now Available Through PayPal

We are committed to providing SoftLayer customers with the most visibility into and control over their invoice payments. So, to make it even easier for customers to make payments in their preferred non-USD currency, SoftLayer is now accepting more currencies from customers who pay their invoices via PayPal.

By using PayPal, customers can pay their SoftLayer invoices in their preferred currency and only pay the foreign currency exchange rate charged through PayPal, which is often less than direct debit/credit card charges. Customers will see the USD invoice amount and the foreign exchange rate prior to completing the transaction. (Customers who do not have a PayPal account will need to create one.* For help with this, view our PayPal Foreign Currency Acceptance Training Guide.)

SoftLayer now accepts the following 26 currencies for payment via PayPal:

  • Argentine Peso (ARS)
  • Australian Dollar (AUD)
  • Brazilian Real (BRL)
  • Canadian Dollar (CAD)
  • Czech Koruna (CZK)
  • Danish Krone (DKK)
  • European Union Euro (EUR)
  • Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)
  • Hungarian Forint (HUF)
  • Israeli Shekel (ILS)
  • Japanese Yen (JPY)
  • Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)
  • Mexican Peso (MXN)
  • New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
  • Norwegian Krone (NOK)
  • Philippine Peso (PHP)
  • Polish Zloty (PLN)
  • Russian Ruble (RUB)
  • Singapore Dollar (SGD)
  • Swedish Krona (SEK)
  • Swiss Franc (CHE)
  • Taiwan New Dollar (TWD)
  • Thai Baht (THB)
  • Turkish Lira (TRY)
  • U.K. Pounds Sterling (GBP)
  • U.S. Dollar (USD)

And for our customers who like to “set it and forget it,” we’ve got auto-pay functionality through PayPal in the works. Stay tuned for updates.

Have questions or need help setting up your SoftLayer account to pay with PayPal? We’ve got answers. Contact a member of our sales team.

-Sarah

*A credit card is required in the SoftLayer account for initial orders for new customers. The payment method can be changed to PayPal prior to the due date of the first invoice.

November 23, 2015

The SLayer Standard Vol. 1, No. 21

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

And the winner is
We are super speedy, but don’t take our word for it. Let us point you to the results of the sponsored cloud benchmark test courtesy of VoltDB. The YCSB benchmark, executed by ACME Benchmarks, was used to compare SoftLayer, an IBM Company, with AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.

So what was the key takeaway? According to John Hugg, “Comparing the SoftLayer bare metal performance and price/performance to the virtualized platforms is interesting. Perhaps it’s not surprising that bare metal does well, but the difference for this benchmark was significant: 50% better absolute performance and 40% more operations per dollar. ”

Hugg also explained the reasoning behind choosing the four aforementioned platforms. In doing so, he noted, “SoftLayer is the odd one here, but it’s really interesting because it offers bare metal hosting on an hourly basis. It’s clear from the results it has performance and price/performance advantages.”

Find out more about results and the YCSB here.

IBM to deliver the ultimate fan experience
Last week, IBM launched the Sports and Entertainment Global Consortium, “which was created to design, build and deliver the ultimate fan experience.” They also presented the new Sports, Entertainment and Fan Experience consulting practice, which will be “led by Jim Rushton, who joins IBM after serving as Chief Revenue Officer of the Miami Dolphins and Sun Life Stadium.”

What will the Consortium do? The press release stated that “The consortium brings together IBM's world leading information technology and recognized leaders in such areas as, construction and design, network infrastructure, wireless, and telecommunications.”

Rushton emphasized that “Sports enterprises and venues need to look at ways to get to know their loyal fans as individuals, and convert that fan loyalty into new revenue streams—not just on game days but 365 days a year.” The practice Rushton will head up plans to “deploy more than 100 global specialists in experience design, mobility, marketing and data analytics supported by a global network of 20 digital design studios.”

Wonder how this will convert into the ultimate fan experience? On a personal note, does that mean people will get cell service while at a game? Looking for that one area you get service means less time watching the game, and that is never a good thing. 😃

Read the entire press release here.

-Rachel

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