News Posts

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.


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.


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” 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
  - name: Build Servers
      module: softlayer
      quantity: 2
      increment: True
      hostname: www
      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
  - name: Cancel by tag
      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.


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 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 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.


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, 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.'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.


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.


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.


*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.


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.


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