Sales Posts

October 27, 2011

SoftLayer Features and Benefits - Data Centers

When we last talked, I broke down the differences between features and benefits. To recap: a feature is something prominent about a person, place or thing, while a benefit is a feature that is useful to you. In that blog, I discussed our customer portal and the automation within, so with this next installment, let's move into my favorite place: the data center ... Our pride and joy!

If you have not had a chance to visit a SoftLayer data center, you're missing out. The number one response I get when I begin a tour through any of our facilities is, "I have been through several data centers before, and they're pretty boring," or my favorite, "We don't have to go in, they all look the same." Then they get a glimpse at the SoftLayer facility through the window in our lobby:

Data Center Window

What makes a SoftLayer DC so different and unique?

We deploy data centers in a pod concept. A pod, or server room, is a designed to be an identical installation of balanced power, cooling and redundant best-in-class equipment in under 10,000 square feet. It will support just about 5,000 dedicated servers, and each pod is built to the same specifications as every other pod. We use the same hardware vendor for servers, the majority of our internal network is powered by Cisco gear and edge equipment is now powered by Juniper. Even the paint on the walls matches up from pod to pod, city to city and now country to country. That's standardization!

That all sounds great, but what does that mean for you? How do all these things benefit you as the end user?

First of all, setting standards improves our efficiency in support and operations. We can pluck any of our technicians in DAL05 and drop him into SJC01, and he'll feel right at home despite the outside world looking a bit different. No facility quirks, no learning curve. In fact, the Go Live Crews in Singapore and Amsterdam are all experienced SoftLayer technicians from our US facilities, so they help us make sure all of the details are exactly alike.

Beyond the support aspect, having data centers in multiple cities around the world is a benefit within itself: You have the option to host your solution as close or as far away from you as you wish. Taking that a step further, disaster recovery becomes much easier with our unique network-within-a-network topology.

The third biggest benefit customers get from SoftLayer's data centers is the quality of the server chassis. Because we standardize our SuperMicro chassis in every facility, we're able to troubleshoot and resolve issues faster when a customer contacts us. Let's say the mainboard is having a problem, and your Linux server is in kernel panic. Instead of taking time to try and fix the part, I can hot-swap all the drives into an identical chassis and use the portal to automatically move all of your IP addresses and network configurations to a new location in the DC. The server boots right up and is back in service with minimal downtime.

Try to do that with "similar" hardware (not "identical"), and see where that gets you.

The last obvious customer benefit we'll talk about here is the data center's internal network performance. Powered by Cisco internal switches and Juniper routers on the edge, we can provide unmatched bandwidth capacity to our data centers as well as low latency links between servers. In one rack on the data center floor, you can see 80Gbps of bandwidth. Our automated, high-speed network allows us to provision a server anywhere in a pod and an additional server anywhere else in the same pod, and they will perform as if they are sitting right next to each other. That means you don't need to reserve space in the same rack for a server that you think you'll need in the future, so when your business grows, your infrastructure can grow seamlessly with you.

In the last installment of this little "SoftLayer Features and Benefits" series, we'll talk about the global network and learn why no one in the industry can match it.

-Harold

October 24, 2011

NOT Lost in Translation

When I attend conferences, I always try to make sure that I communicate what we do the best way I can. With our new data centers opening up in Singapore and Amsterdam, I was curious to see what a SoftLayer message would look like in the two countries' most prominent languages. With the gracious help from local representatives, we have our English message translated into Mandarin, Malay and Dutch.

English
We are the largest private hosting company in the world, providing cloud, dedicated, managed and integrated computing environments to over 25,000 customers around the world. We have recently added additional data centers and now have facilities in Amsterdam, Dallas, Houston, San Jose, Seattle, Singapore and Washington D.C., and network Points of Presence worldwide. On top of that, we have automated every part of our platform, giving our customers complete control, security, scalability and ease-of-management through the best Customer Portal and Open API in the industry.

Mandarin
我们是世界上最大的私人网站住办有限公司,带给全球超过25000客户的服务包括云计算,专用主机,主机托管和综合计算。最近,我们增加了额外的数据中心,现在已在阿姆斯特丹,达拉斯,休斯顿,圣何塞,西雅图,新加坡,华盛顿等拥有设施,网点遍布全球。最重要的是,我们自动化了每一个平台的部分,用同行业最好的客户门户和开放的API体系为客户提供完整的控制,集安全性,可扩展性,和易于管理与一体的服务。

Malay
Kami adalah syarikat swasta yang terbesar di dunia yang menyediakan pengkomputeran awan (cloud), hos berdedikasi yang diurus dan diintegrasikan ke dalam infrastruktur pengkomputeran untuk lebih daripada 25,000 pelanggan kami di seluruh dunia. Kami baru-baru ini telah menambah pusat data tambahan dan kini mempunyai kemudahan-kemudahan di Amsterdam, Dallas, Houston, San Jose, Seattle, Singapura dan Washington DC dan juga rangkaian "Points of Presence" di seluruh dunia. Selain itu, Kami telah mengautomatikkan setiap bahagian platform kami, memberikan para pelanggan kami penuh kuasa dan kawalan, keselamatan, kemampuan yang luas dan kemudahan pengurusan menggunakan pelanggan portal kami yang terbaik dan API terbuka (Open API) di dalam industri ini.

Dutch
Wij zijn het grootste, private hosting bedrijf in de wereld dat voorziet in cloud, dedicated, managed and integrated computing-omgevingen voor meer dan 25.000 klanten wereldwijd. We hebben recent extra datacenters toegevoegd en hebben nu vestigingen in Amsterdam, Dallas, Houston, San Jose, Seattle, Singapore en Washington DC en netwerk Points of Presence over de hele wereld. Bovendien hebben we elk deel van ons platform geautomatiseerd, waardoor wij onze klanten volledige controle, beveiliging, schaalbaarheid en gemak van beheer bieden met behulp van het beste Customer Portal en Open API in deze bedrijfstak

Back to English
While I might not be able to communicate those translations in conversation (yet), it's an incredible visualization of how SoftLayer is growing and changing. It's also exciting to think about how many more languages we'll need to include next year!

-Summer

September 20, 2011

SoftLayer.com Website Refresh

Recently, the SoftLayer Marketing team refreshed our corporate website. You may have already seen one of the most obvious changes: an updated homepage.

While minor updates to the look and feel of the site have been made over the last two years (adding solid colors to the main tabs, increasing the use of text inside buttons, etc.), the essential layout of the homepage hasn't changed since December of 2008! We were due for a refresh.

Our updated homepage features a simplified layout with new graphics. Special offers and new products get a large-format banner, which clearly introduces visitors to what we are offering in a way that is more eye-catching than before. Check out the difference between the old-style banners and the new-style banners:

BEFORE
SoftLayer.com Homepage

NOW
SoftLayer.com Homepage

Below the main banner, we replaced the solid red banner shapes with ones that incorporate photos and colorful graphical elements. Here's the new design for our Dedicated Server and CloudLayer Computing banners:

SoftLayer.com Homepage

Our primary navigation layout has also changed. We now highlight our three main product offerings – Dedicated Severs, CloudLayer Computing, and Managed Hosting – with red tabs that contrast with our other grey tabs, as shown below:

SoftLayer.com Homepage

We have also re-organized many of our information pages to make our offerings more clear and to make content easier to find.

The list of changes goes on -- enhanced contact buttons on the right of each page to make it easier for website visitors to get ahold of us, a new approach to links at the top and bottom of every page, and so on.

And while the changes we added in this recent site update add a refreshing look and feel, we are by no means finished. You'll find a lot more going on at www.softlayer.com in the weeks and months to come.

-Brad

Categories: 
September 13, 2011

SoftLayer Features and Benefits - Automation

Features and benefits ... They're like husband and wife, horse and carriage, hammer and nails! They are inseparable and will always complement each other. I wanted to jump right into a key "features and benefits" analysis of one of the value propositions of the SoftLayer platform, but before I did, I want to make sure we are all on the same page about the difference between the two.

A feature is something prominent about a person, place or thing. It's usually something that stands out and makes whatever you're talking about stand out — for the purpose of this discussion it will be, at least. It could be something as simple as the new car you're buying having a front windshield or the house you're looking to buy having a garage. Maybe it's something a little more distinct like having your car's air conditioner stay cool and blow for 15 min after the ignition is switched to the ACC position when you turn your engine off while pumping gas. Maybe your house has a tank-less water heater. These examples are indeed real features, but the first two are more or less expected ... The last two make this particular car and this particular house stand out.

So where do the benefits come in? Benefits are features that are useful or profitable to you. With you being the operative word here. Think about it: If a feature does not provide any use to you, why would you care? Let's go back to the car with its unique A/C feature. What if you live in Greenland? Who cares that the A/C will stay on? You may not even care for the feature of having an air conditioner at all! Talk about that feature in Dallas, TX, where it has been over 100 degrees for the last 2 months and counting, and all of a sudden, this feature provides a real benefit!

It's now your cue to ask how all of this relates to hosting or, more specifically, SoftLayer.

{ ... Waiting for you to ask ... }

I am glad you asked! If you haven't noticed, SoftLayer boasts a wide array of features on our website, and I would like to point out some of the benefits that may not be apparent to everyone, starting with automation. You're probably aware that SoftLayer has one of the most robust and full featured automation platforms in the industry.

Automation

Think about the last time your IT director sent an email that went into your junk mail folder ... You happen to see it on Sunday night, and it reads, "Please stand up five test servers for a new project by the Monday morning meeting." You know that the vendors you typically use take anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks to stand up new servers, so you wouldn't have had a problem if you saw the email a week ago when it was sent — but you didn't. So to avoid getting a smudge on your perfect employee record, you stumble across softlayer.com where automation enables us to deliver your five servers in 2 hours. Talk about a benefit: You still have time to watch a little TV before going to bed ... Five servers, to your exact specifications, all deployed before you could Google the orgin of "rubber baby buggy bumbers." (For those who care, it was a tag line said by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Last Action Hero.)

At the heart of our automation platform lives the dedicated server, and the blood that courses though our network is the API. All that's left is the pretty face (which we call the Customer Portal). Our portal provides a graphical user interface to control every aspect of your account from ordering new servers, IP allocations and hardware reboots to port control, port speed selection and billing matters. If you're more into the behind-the-scenes stuff, then you can use all the same controls from the comfort of your own application via the API. Sounds like a lot of features to me, where are the benefits?

To start, you have options! Who doesn't like options? You get to choose how you want to manage your account and infrastructure. We don't force you into "our" way. Secondly, being able to do most functions yourself enables you to be more efficient. You know what you want, so you can log in and get it. No need to wait two hours for your firewall rule set to update; just log in and change it. You want to add load balancing to your account? Log in and order it! How about SAN replication? ... I think you see where I'm going with this. Our portal and automation bring this control to your computer anywhere in the world! Some of these features even extend to your iPhone and android platform. Now you can update your support tickets while at the park with the kids.

Look for a second installment of our study on SoftLayer Features and Benefits! There are many more features that I want to translate into benefits for you, so in the more familiar words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, "I'll be back"!

-Harold

March 29, 2011

The Rise of the Geek

Whether fact or fiction, in business, sports, politics or the arts, everyone loves a triumphant underdog story, and who could be more of an underdog than a bookish, socially awkward geek? You know ... the ones that were overlooked and under-appreciated (until they made their first million dollars). The history of the Internet is littered with geeks changing the way nearly every person in the developed world interacts with the people around them. In honor of these stereotypically statistical underdogs, May 25 - the premiere date of the first Star Wars film (among other geeky holidays) - has come to be known as Geek Pride Day.

With more than 80,000 active servers and 550+ employees, SoftLayer is essentially a Geek Think Tank of employees and and proving ground of sorts for customers. As I'm writing this, the faint hum of our generators and cooling systems remind me that the next Facebook or Microsoft might be getting started in the data center pod right below my desk at our Dallas Alpha HQ.

Just considering that prospect reinforced to me that the geeks have really done it! The 2.0 millennium has been marked by the rise YouSpaceTwitterWikiMyTube sites spurred on by textbook-definition nerdy underdogs ... It's right in line with Lance's theory of world domination. No longer are geeks merely the Steve Urkels of the business world.

They're successful, smart, savvy, innovative early adopters.

Let's take a moment and explore some of the more polarizing geeks of our day - Geeks who made being a geek cool:

  • Steve Jobs - 500,000 iPads sold by the end of the first week of release. Apple's market cap exceeds that of Microsoft for the first time since 1989. Open Source application development and support is a key part of its ongoing software strategy.
  • Bill Gates - Windows, Microsoft Office, Xbox and their new "To the cloud" focus.
  • Mark Zuckerberg - The Founder of Facebook:
    • More than 500 million active users
    • Entrepreneurs and developers from more than 190 countries build with Facebook Platform
      • Many of whom use SoftLayer as their Infrastructure host :-)
    • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
  • Peter Parker - Spider Man - Peter has a natural gift for the sciences and is considered by some genius. After being bit by a radioactive spider Peter develops super physical human strength and ability along with a sixth sense for danger.
  • Dwight Schrute - Top salesman for the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. Winner of numerous sales awards. One-time Assistant to the Regional Manager and beet farmer extraordinaire

Alright ... I might be getting carried away lumping fictional characters into the mix, but you get my point.

As a member of the SLales department, I am forever "geeking out" over new and exciting applications, products and tools the our customers are coming up with. Although I don't believe I can truly claim my geek badge of honor yet, I aspire to reaching that rank.

-Arielle

PS: For the geeks out there, (without cheating) what year was the first Star Wars film released? Did you see it in the theater? If you weren't alive when it was released, when did you first see it?

Categories: 
March 24, 2011

3 Bars | 3 Questions: SoftLayer Channel Sales

In this week's "3 Bars | 3 Questions" episode, I was nominated by Tom Blair to talk about SoftLayer's Channel Sales team and the competitive advantages our three partner programs (strategic, referral and reseller) have over our competition.

As you'll see in the video, we actually covered seven or eight questions, but the basic framework for the chat were these three:

  1. How does SoftLayer define the channel?
  2. What's happening in the SoftLayer channel program?
  3. How does SoftLayer's referral program differ from the programs offered by competitors?

Because we had quite a bit of ground to cover, the video goes about 15 minutes, but I hope it's entertaining and informative throughout. Be sure to stick around through the end of the video to hear the best analogy I can think of for SoftLayer's program.

To learn more about the new referral partner program I mention, email referral@softlayer.com, and we can fill you in.

Since we recently announced an awesome partnership with TechWildcatters, I'm looking forward to hearing what SoftLayer VP of Community Development Paul Ford has to say about what else is coming up. Paul, enjoy the hot seat!

-Drew

March 11, 2011

3 Bars | 3 Questions: SoftLayer Sales

Will Charnock put me in the hot seat at the end of his 3 Bars | 3 Questions interview last week, so I welcomed Kevin into my office virtually to have a quick chat. He came equipped with three good questions about my experience with SoftLayer SLales, and I did my best to give three good answers. Here were the questions:

  1. What makes SoftLayer different from any of the other companies you've worked for?
  2. When you're hiring a new sales representative, what do you look for in that person?
  3. What are you most excited about when it comes to the next few months at SoftLayer from a sales perspective?

This week, we used a High Definition video chat, and the quality is pretty impressive. We're still working to improve and tweak the format and quality of these videos, so you might notice a few blips in the audio recording, but we'll get those ironed out soon.

All in all, the video chat was a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to watching Drew Jenkins enjoy it in the next episode!

-Tom

February 3, 2010

Custom Server Solutions

The other day I was at a well known coffee shop (take a wild guess) and was steamrolled by all of the marketing hype. Try this! Take one of these home! Only for a limited time! Often the presentation of too many options makes the decision a lot more difficult. I know it’s just coffee or tea but now I have the sudden urge to collect them all! And despite years of caffeine conditioning I don’t think my heart, stomach, or my bank account could take a collecting and consuming of all. I’m looking for something different this time, but again, too many options. The next logical step is asking the Barista what their favorite is. I figure they spend their entire workday around the stuff; they MUST have a good recommendation. All I was really looking for here was a “get this” and call it good. Only after I asked, did I remember that most people who frequent this caliber of coffee joint are really particular about their coffee. I, however, am not one of the ¼ soy milk, ¼ cream, no froth, low-fat, exactly 1723 crystals of sugar type of people, so I’m not really prepared for what comes next. Instead of a one-size-fits-all answer, I’m getting a barrage of questions about my preferences. While this was not really what I was after, it hit me that this Barista is building me a solution. I did, in fact, leave with a tasty seasonal coffee, custom tailored to my needs. Servers are a lot like coffee, they rely on gratuitous amounts of caffeine to be any good; that and, there is usually never a generic solution that is going to suit your needs. The sales team at SoftLayer is not there solely to assist you in placing an order for you; they are there to ask you questions about your intentions with the server so they can recommend the best possible solution. You can have your low-fat CentOS with a double-shot of 5570’s with “venti” gigs of ram. Just ask our sales team to brew you up a solution.

December 14, 2009

‘Tis the Season to Get Things Done

It’s the holiday season, and that means everyone is getting busier. On top of all the existing responsibilities, millions of people are going shopping for gifts, decorating their houses, and navigating the bad weather. On top of all that, many people take their time off during the holiday season!

With this kind of time crunch, it’s best for your business to lie low until after the new year, right? Not so! With all this buying, selling, and giving going on, there’s a lot of extra retail data to process. Plus, it’s the end of the calendar year, many businesses have to get their finances in order too. ALSO, all these newly purchased electronic devices are soon going to be turned on and hooked up to the Internet, where they will almost surely put a new load on your servers.

Systems and network administrators need to be prepared for this influx of new traffic. Sometimes, this means purchasing new servers. However, it’s inefficient to buy the servers so far in advance when you don’t yet know what you will need. It’s best to wait until you’re sure you will need more servers and how many to order. At another hosting company, that would be a problem. People in our industry take the holidays off, too. Lowering the number of sales people and technicians and raising the number of new server requests would normally result in a disaster.

Luckily, SoftLayer does automatic provisioning. As soon as you order your server, it will be provisioned in two to four hours. Day or night, June 3rd or December 31st, if we have it, you can have control over it in two to four hours.

And therein lies the beauty of the SoftLayer system. You don’t have to wait for US to scale your business. If you need another server, get it. When it’s ready, it will automatically be added to your account’s private network and be available to you. You can even automate your server configuration and setup. Depending on the amount of data you need to transfer to a new server, you can have another server up and running your website less than 5 hours from the time you realized you needed it.

In fact, by using the SoftLayer API (and some clever configuration scripts on your servers) you can do live scaling on your website. Using the API, you can provision new servers exactly like the ones you already have. Once they’re available, a script can mirror the configurations from an existing machine to the new machine. Use the SoftLayer API once more to add the new servers to your load balancer rotation, and you’re in business! All without relying on any humans, even yourself! Treat yourself to some R&R this holiday season, while your website continues to get things done for you.

December 9, 2009

SoftLayer - Unbelievable Control, Capabilities and Innovation

I have been working at SoftLayer for 2 + years now as a CSA and it has been quite the experience! Imagine working at a place where you get to put your hands on the latest technologies, where customers can manage servers as if they were in their own datacenter, and where innovation is a daily norm. Welcome to my job at SoftLayer. I have seen this company grow at an amazing rate, and to whom do we owe the credit? YOU – The customer! Everything that we do, offer and build is a testament to the customers that use our services. This helps make us a forerunner in the industry and allows the customers that use our services to grow and achieve anything that their business requires. I am going to list just a few of my favorite capabilities we offer below:

VPN – The ability to control your server through a private, secure connection and to use our backend services without incurring usage against bandwidth.

IPMI – Having the power of a local console attached and with some cards a virtual dvdrom to install any operating system of your choice.

OS Reloads – We offer several types of operating systems to choose from and keep up to date with the latest versions.

Secondary DNS – You can host your own DNS and allow zone transfers into the SoftLayer Portal and use our resolvers as secondary failovers.

Content Delivery Network – This Feature is awesome as you can deliver your site or video from the closest point to an end user geographically to ensure a great viewing experience.

Support – 24x7 support that truly cares about the customer’s needs. We love what we do and this attitude shows in everything we do.

This is just the tip of the iceberg and barely touches on what we offer our customers. If you are not yet a customer I would strongly encourage you to speak with one of our Sales representatives as they are here and ready to help and will guide you in building the platform you need to get the job done.

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