News Posts

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

Categories: 
November 19, 2015

SoftLayer and Koding join forces to power a Global Virtual Hackathon


This guest blog post is written by Cole Fox, director of partnerships at Koding.

Koding is excited to partner with SoftLayer on its upcoming Global Virtual Hackathon, happening December 12–13, 2015. The event builds on last year’s Hackathon, where more than 60,000 developers participated from all over the world. The winners took home over $35,000 in prizes! This year, we’ve upped the ante to make the event even larger than the last time: the winner will take home a $100,000 grand prize.

“We are working with Koding for this virtual hackathon as part of our commitment to promote open source technology and support the talented community of developers who are dispersed all over the globe,” said Sandy Carter, general manager of Cloud Ecosystem and Developers at IBM. “Cloud-based open source development platforms like Koding make it easier to get software projects started, and hackathons are a great place to show how these kinds of platforms make software development easier and more fun.”


Why a virtual hackathon?
Hackathons are awesome. They allow developers to solve problems in a very short amount of time. The challenge with traditional hackathons is that they require you to be physically present in a room. With more and more of our lives moving online, why be tied to a physical location to solve problems? Virtual hackathons allow talented individuals from all over the world to participate, collaborate, and showcase their skills, regardless of their physical location. Our Global Virtual Hackathon levels the playing field.

Who won last year?
Educational games, especially those that teach programming, were popular to build—and a few actually won! Want to see what the winners built? Click here to check out a fun yet effective game teaching students to program. Learn more about the team of developers and see their code here. Last year, nine winners across three categories took home a prize. To see a list of last year’s winners, see the blog post here.

Tips to be successful and win this year
Here’s some motivation for you: the grand prize is $100,000. (That’s seed capital for your startup idea!)

So how do you win? First and foremost, apply now! Then talk to some friends and maybe even team up. You can also use Koding to find teammates once you’re accepted. Teammates aren’t a requirement but can definitely make for a fun experience and improve your chances of making something amazing.

Once you’re in, get excited! And be sure to start thinking about what you want to build around this year’s themes.

And the 2015 themes are…
Ready to build something and take home $100,000? Here are this year’s themes:

  • Data Visualization
    Data is everywhere, but how can we make sense of it? Infographics and analytics can bring important information to light that wasn’t previously accessible when stuck in a spreadsheet or database. We challenge you to use some of the tools out there to help articulate some insights.
  • Enterprise Productivity
    The workplace can always be improved and companies are willing to pay a lot of money for great solutions. Build an application that helps employees do their jobs better and you could win big.
  • Educational Games
    Last year’s winning team, WunderBruders, created an educational game. But games aren’t just for children. Studies have shown that games not only improve motor skills, but they are also a great way to learn something new.

Wait a second. What is Koding anyway?
In short, Koding is a developer environment as a service. The Koding platform provides you with what you need to move your software development to the cloud. Koding’s cloud-based software development service provides businesses with the ability to formulate the most productive, collaborative, and efficient development workflows. Businesses, both small and large, face three common challenges: on-boarding new team members, workflow efficiency, and knowledge retention. These pain points impact companies across all industries, but for companies involved in software development, these are often the most expensive and critical problems that continue to remain unresolved. Koding was built to tackle these inefficiencies head on. Learn more about Koding for Teams.

Can I use my SoftLayer virtual servers with Koding?
Koding’s technical architecture is very flexible. If you have a SoftLayer virtual server, you can easily connect it to your Koding account. The feature is described in detail here.

Think you can hack it? APPLY NOW!

-Cole Fox

November 17, 2015

The SLayer Standard Vol. 1, No. 20

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

More to know about big data
Our tech evangelist Justin Halsall sat down with Dataconomy to discuss our Big Data Academy, its benefits, and our partnership with Basho. When asked about the motivations behind BDA, he said, “We decided to create a platform that would address professionals from the big data space that are close to the infrastructure and develops that side of the business—taking them on a journey from beginners, through to enthusiast, and finally a practitioner level when it comes to deploying and implementing big data workloads on cloud.”

How can our Big Data Academy help you? Halsall explains that although everyone agrees using big data is necessary in the digital economy, the question of “How?” still lingers. “Our masterclasses, for example, are for those who seek an answer to how can I take advantage of the vast amount of data my organization aggregates? How to optimize that on the technological level? Why computational infrastructure is so important in turning the unstructured data into accurate decisions?”

Read the rest of Justin’s interview here.

Announcing developerWorks Premium
Last week, IBM introduced a new developerWorks subscription program that gives “an all-access pass to cloud-based offerings and services from IBM, allowing developers to go from prototype to production in minutes.” Another benefit of the new program is that it offers “member-only curated tools and resources for IBM Cloud.”

Why would you be interested in the offering? Sandy Carter, general manager of cloud ecosystem and developers at IBM, explained, “We have created a roadmap of premium resources for developers of all levels to grow their skills, build next-gen apps, and connect with the IBM ecosystem. We want to encourage developers and innovation at IBM.”

Find out what’s included in the offering and more here.

Ready? Set? IBM Relay 2015
At IBM Relay 2015, Forrester introduced new research about the growth of customer-centric workloads and the increase of private enterprise clouds. According to Forrester’s findings, “An average of 88 percent of organizations plan to increase the number of applications and systems in which they build or migrate to cloud platforms over the next two years, with customer-focused technology such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems and asset management services as the key drivers.”

John Rymer, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester said, “Technology and products aren't the problem. Culture, organizational structure, and managing that platform are now the biggest limitations." That is where IBM and Bluemix come in, with a goal “to initiate culture change and cloud migration for businesses, and then help companies manage the hybrid cloud architecture once it's there.”

Last week at IBM Relay, two new Bluemix services, Active Deploy and Event Hub, were announced. “The services also comprise parts of Relay, IBM's mechanism for connecting to cloud systems for pushing upgrades and monitoring applications across public, private, and hybrid clouds as well as middleware, mobile, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.”

Get more details on IBM Relay and Forrester’s new research here.

-Rachel

Categories: 
November 9, 2015

The SLayer Standard Vol. 1, No. 19

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

Welcome to the IBM family, Gravitant.
Last week, IBM added Gravitant, “a cloud broker that helps companies mix-and-match cloud services from multiple vendors” to its cloud suit. The addition will help IBM increase the options for customers to manage cloud services.

IBM highlighted the plan in its press release, saying, “IBM plans to integrate the Gravitant capabilities into the IBM Global Technology Services unit. Also, IBM Cloud plans to integrate the capabilities into Software-as-a-Service offerings, extending the company’s growing hybrid cloud solutions and capabilities.”

Learn more about the Gravitant acquisition here.

We’re the power behind Continuity247™.
Our friends at Continuum elaborated on their decision to use SoftLayer to power its BDR Solution, Continuity247™. So what was the reason? From the company’s blog: “We needed a scalable, high-performance public cloud hosting platform with a trusted brand, global data center presence, secure infrastructure and reliable technology that could uphold compliance requirements for partners serving the healthcare and financial verticals. IBM Softlayer checks all of these boxes.” The backup and disaster recovery platform is different from other offerings, because “it’s backup technology that was born in the cloud.”

Get more details about the BDR solution on Continuum’s blog.

Watson, how do you work?
IBM’s Watson has done some amazing things, from winning Jeopardy to helping chefs in the kitchen. But how does it work? If you have ever asked yourself that question, you aren’t alone. How does Watson’s thought processes so closely resemble those of humans? Play the video below to find out.

-Rachel

Categories: 
November 2, 2015

The multitenant problem solver is here: VMWare 6 NSX on SoftLayer

We’re very excited to tell you about what’s coming down the pike here at SoftLayer: VMWare NSX 6! This is something that I’ve personally been anticipating for a while now, because it solves so many issues that are confronted on the multitenant platform. Here’s a diagram to explain exactly how it works:

As you can see, it uses the SoftLayer network, the underlay network and fabric, and uses NSX as the overlay network to create the SDN (Software Defined Network).

What is it?
VMware NSX is a virtual networking and security software product from VMware's vCloud Networking and Security (vCNS) and Nicira Network Virtualization Platform (NVP). NSX software-defined networking is part of VMware's software-defined data center concept, which offers cloud computing on VMware virtualization technologies. VMware's stated goal with NSX is to provision virtual networking environments without command line interfaces or other direct administrator intervention. Network virtualization abstracts network operations from the underlying hardware onto a distributed virtualization layer, much like server virtualization does for processing power and operating systems. VMware vCNS (formerly called vShield) virtualizes L4-L7 of the network. Nicira's NVP virtualizes the network fabric, L2 and L3. VMware says that NSX will expose logical firewalls, switches, routers, ports, and other networking elements to allow virtual networking among vendor-agnostic hypervisors, cloud management systems, and associated network hardware. It also will support external networking and security ecosystem services.

How does it work?
NSX network virtualization is an architecture that enables the full potential of a software-defined data center (SDDC), making it possible to create and run entire networks in parallel on top of existing network hardware. This results in faster deployment of workloads and greater agility in creating dynamic data centers.

This means you can create a flexible pool of network capacity that can be allocated, utilized, and repurposed on demand. You can decouple the network from underlying hardware and apply virtualization principles to network infrastructure. You’re able to deploy networks in software that are fully isolated from each other, as well as from other changes in the data center. NSX reproduces the entire networking environment in software, including L2, L3 and L4–L7 network services within each virtual network. NSX offers a distributed logical architecture for L2–L7 services, provisioning them programmatically when virtual machines are deployed and moving them with the virtual machines. With NSX, you already have the physical network resources you need for a next-generation data center.

What are some major features?
NSX brings an SDDC approach to network security. Its network virtualization capabilities enable the three key functions of micro-segmentation: isolation (no communication across unrelated networks), segmentation (controlled communication within a network), and security with advanced services (tight integration with leading third-party security solutions).

The key benefits of micro-segmentation include:

  1. Network security inside the data center: Fine-grained policies enable firewall controls and advanced security down to the level of the virtual NIC.
  2. Automated security for speed and agility in the data center: Security policies are automatically applied when a virtual machine spins up, moved when a virtual machine is migrated, and removed when a virtual machine is deprovisioned—eliminating the problem of stale firewall rules.
  3. Integration with the industry’s leading security products: NSX provides a platform for technology partners to bring their solutions to the SDDC. With NSX security tags, these solutions can adapt to constantly changing conditions in the data center for enhanced security.

As you can see, there are lots of great features and benefits for our customers.

You can find more great resources about NSX on SoftLayer here. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for more great NSX news!

-Cheeku

October 26, 2015

The SLayer Standard Vol. 1, No. 18

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

Keeping Aucklanders Safe
Cloud M moved its public safety alert system to IBM Cloud. The company came to IBM for assistance through the Global Entrepreneur Program, where it learned about and choose SoftLayer for IaaS. This initial shift has made the company’s Alerter app faster for users. “Today, Alerter gets alerts and safety information to subscribers’ smartphones, newsfeeds and social media sites with unprecedented speed and efficiency.”

The Auckland Civil Defense & Emergency Management (CDEM) authority “has used Alerter to help protect 1.4 million residents during many storms, earthquakes and two major tsunami warnings,” Richard Gill, founder and CEO of Cloud M wrote. Gill said, “Through our work and our partnership with IBM, we’re convinced more than ever that public emergency information sharing is best done through mobile and the cloud.”

For more on Cloud M’s story, check out this post on THINK.

We’re the picture-perfect solution.
Guten Tag! pixx.io is a startup that created digital asset management software for support small and midsize companies. The goal is to help companies “collect, share, and manage photos, graphics, videos and other digital media with customers, business partners and remote workers.” To start, they hosted the solution on their own servers and quickly realized that it would be extremely difficult to scale at the speed and ease they needed.

The company turned to SoftLayer for many reasons, but keeping their data nearby was paramount. Andreas Gölkel, pixx.io cofounder, elaborated “German customers are a little afraid to give out their data on servers that are not in Germany or in the EU.”

Well, our Frankfurt data center was the solution. He also noted, “With SoftLayer, we can scale up easily and fast. And due to the really good support, we saved a lot of time. As a startup, every hour that you can use for doing other stuff is worth a lot of money.”

Read more of their story here.

Watson, what’s in the oven?
Chef Watson put out a delicious dinner with the help of Chef James Briscione. He is the director of culinary development of the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC, plus an IBM collaborator. Briscione acted as sous-chef, actually creating the delectable dishes.

So how did they develop the menu? Thanks to four years of work and an analysis of 10,000 recipes from Bon Appétit magazine, Watson “deduced which ingredients routinely went together, and suggested pairings with other ingredients with overlapping flavor or aromatic compounds (along with recipes).”

Briscione says that Watson isn’t going to take the place of chefs, but is simply a tool providing data for chefs to use when thinking up enticing eats. He added, “While Watson is helping us select ingredients and find really wonderful new combinations of food, it doesn’t really tell us what to do with them,” he said. “It just says, ‘These things are going to taste good together, you guys figure out the rest.’”

Find more on this data driven dinner here.

-Rachel

Categories: 
October 20, 2015

What’s in a hypervisor? More than you think

Virtualization has always been a key tenet of enabling cloud-computing services. From the get-go, SoftLayer has offered a variety of options, including Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Parallels Cloud Server, just to name a few. It’s all about enabling choice.

But what about VMware—the company that practically pioneered virtualization, making it commonplace?

Well, we have some news to share. SoftLayer has always supported VMware ESX and ESXi—your basic, run-of-the mill hypervisor—but now we’re enabling enterprise customers to run VMware vSphere on our bare metal servers.

This collaboration is significant for SoftLayer and IBM because it gives our customers tremendous flexibility and transparency when moving workloads into the public cloud. Enterprises already familiar with VMware can easily extend their existing on-premises VMware infrastructure into the IBM Cloud with simplified, monthly pricing. This makes transitioning into a hybrid model easier because it results in greater workload mobility and application continuity.

But the real magic happens when you couple our bare metal performance with VMware vSphere. Users can complete live workload migrations between data centers across continents. Users can easily move and implement enterprise applications and disaster recovery solutions across our global network of cloud data centers—with just a few clicks of a mouse. Take a look at this demo and judge for yourself.

What’s in a hypervisor? For some, it’s an on-ramp to the cloud and a way to make hybrid computing a reality. When you pair the flexibility of VMware with our bare metal servers, users get a combination that’s hard to beat.

We’re innovating to help companies make the transition to hybrid cloud, one hypervisor at a time. For more details, visit http://www.softlayer.com/virtualization-options.

-Jack Beech, VP of Business Development

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