Posts Tagged 'Bandwidth'

January 20, 2009

Hope and Change

Hope and Change (oh, and make that change quick and it better be robust)

Remember when the internet used to be about bulletin boards, e-mail and other random tasks like keeping up with CNN, ESPN or whatever news outlet you may fancy? It wasn’t that long ago, but after some time in the internet industry I have to tell you that I was amazed today by a real life representation of the evolution not just of the internet, but communications as we know it.

As I write this, it’s 4:00pm CST on January 20, 2009. The significance of this day will be marked in history by the inauguration of the 44th president, Barack Obama. Love him, hate him, whatever your position is, you cannot deny the sheer volume of intrigue as we enter into this presidency and its influence on the next 4 or 8 years, depending on how history plays itself out.

This volume of intrigue has officially impacted the internet in a manner yet to be seen prior to today, but in a manner that is likely to be seen more and more as technology continues to progress. In Softlayer HQ, we have a U shaped office the spans two sides of a corporate office building with the glass walls of the exterior creating the exterior barrier, while the interior barriers are your typical sheetrock, egg white colored walls. In between the Glass and the sheetrock lie some 60-100 cubicles. As I walked from conference room to conference room, I could easily see the video streaming of the inauguration on dozens of our employees computers. Some used the really cool CNN/Facebook stream, some used the MSNBC Stream, some used others, but you get the idea. The fact that live streaming video of monumental events occurs on a video screen; while the tasks at hand are being completed is something that old movies portrayed as beyond belief. It’s really impressive the technologies that are at our fingertips and the abilities that we have to utilize these in our daily lives.

Softlayer had the opportunity to experience a real life “so what does that mean for internet going forward” example today. Recently we were approached by a large scale content delivery firm with the expectation that they had been contracted to do live streaming of the inauguration. With a simple introduction we indicated that we were well prepped to provide you the turnkey infrastructure to accomplish their task. Without going into great detail, the infrastructure included 200+ servers, multiple load balancers, firewalls, and other ancillary devices. With the on-demand nature of our business we were able to enable the infrastructure to functional within a 4 hour period. Although stated to the customer, they had their reservations, but true to our stated deployment times, we met with flying colors, the expectations.

So the real test, Performance! Although still streaming through what is likely to be one of the biggest, most watched events on the internet, Softlayer increased sustained bandwidth north of an additional 30Gbps to our network IP over and above our usual sustained bandwidth levels. Utilizing the 200+ Gbps of capacity throughout our network, we were in a fortunate position to have the capacity and the infrastructure in place to support such a large event. I am sure that the cellular firms wish they had prepped for better capacity in terms of spikes in usage. With many hearts racing in the throughout the office, but especially in the network department due to the bandwidth graphs racing upwards, all of here at Softlayer are excited that we were part of the day’s events. The many many meetings that involved robust network discussions, capacity planning, future growth models, etc. were all validated today with this event. The ‘We’ll never use that much’ and ‘that’s overkill’ discussions have all been put to rest. By deploying 40Gbps to each rack and building upstream capabilities that have capacity not as an issue, but as a planning and growth tool, we are extremely excited about what the future holds in terms of online, internet communications. We are looking forward to the next generation of internet technology as it becomes more and more robust. Our mantra remains firm as the leader in next generation virtualized data center services and we look forward to realizing the things that movies portray as beyond belief.

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December 13, 2007

Avoid Gift Cards!

I live in America, and as any American knows, we pipe Christmas Music and Christmas TV and Christmas Movies directly into the brains of as many people as possible to attempt to keep everyone safe during this difficult shopping season.

Admit it: when you and your neighbor are running to Electronics in hope of getting the last Wii from the shelf, sometimes the only thing stopping you from dumping a bag of Skittles in front of him or knocking over a Lego display is the constant barrage of Rudolph and Frosty and other Christmas cheer over the PA.

Unfortunately, unless you are content to give everyone a copy of Dryping for Dummies (By Steve Kinman, SoftLayer Press), you will have to wade into the shopping rush to eek out your Santa sized bag 'o goodies.

Never fear, however! The Retail Industry is there to help! For those who don't want to dive head first into the excitement of Christmas Shopping (which can make even a foray to pick up some toilet paper from Wal*Mart into an exciting 2 hour adventure), nearly every retail outlet is willing to give you a 2" x 3" credit card like piece of plastic stamped with their brand. Yes, the Gift Card.

It's been said that over 60% of American adults have either bought or received a Gift Card, this year. It's a very convenient device. For example, if I figure out that Lance really likes Outback Steakhouse, I can buy a $10 gift card from Outback Steakhouse, wrap it in a $1 Hallmark card (although, sometimes the retail outlets already have such cards (stamped with their logo) available), and give it to Lance. "Merry Christmas!" Sometimes you can even get the card gift wrapped.A gift-wrapped credit card!

We're to the point, now, that simply handing somebody a plastic card is actually considered a thoughtful gift. On the way to work, I heard that any fishing lover would prefer to receive a Bass Pro Shop Gift Card over, say, that Bassomatic '76 they've been talking about.

But, lets be honest... it doesn't take much to choose a gift card. I overhear Lance say he likes steak, I see a Outback Steakhouse card, and bam! Before you can say "Impulse Purchase" I now have an instant gift! Sure, it's not as fulfilling as, say, a box of prime steaks... but this way you can give him more gift cards! And more is better, right?

But the comedy doesn't end there. Have you ever seen a gift card in a usable denomination? Usually I find cards with a value between $10-50. Can you even get a steak meal for $10 at Outback Steakhouse? (Don't forget to include the State and Federal Wallet Excise Tax.) And I'm not talking about that free bread, either. No, what happens is you end up either leaving a trifling amount of money on the card (Your balance is ... twenty five cents), or you end up wrapping your card in a sizable amount of cash. See how neat this is? I bought a $10 card, and Lance will pay the balance of the meal... AND STILL THANK ME FOR IT!

Retailers make MILLIONS of dollars off the trifling amounts that just sit, unused, on gift cards. And gift cards aren't usable at another store, so if I want to buy a $20 book, but I only have a $10 Half Priced Books gift card (and a $10 Outback Card Lance gave me as a Thank You), I'll use the card + $10. You can almost never just spend what's on the card.

Here's some friendly holiday advice: If you know what your friend wants, buy it for him. If you don't, ask people close to him. Even Aunt Myrtle's sweater contains more holiday cheer value than the sweater's monetary value in McDonalds Gift Cards.

Is there a way out of this trap of value-locked slivers of plastic? Indeed there is! If you wish to transfer value to another person without locking them into one choice, give them... CASH! Yes, greenbacks, bucks, dead presidential portraits, green... whatever you call it, United States Federal Notes are accepted by all retailers, in any denomination. Value not used by one retailer can then be spent at another. This value can also be stored up where it may earn interest and combine with more legal tender until a large item can be bought. The best solution for any gift giving problem where "Gift Cards" are suggested as a solution is CASH, such as when you absolutely can't think up something to buy. And it makes a great stocking stuffer. In Bulk. Hint, hint.

Yes, you in the back? What does this mean for SoftLayer? Just because this is a SoftLayer Blog doesn't mean it has to have a SoftLayer moral! But lucky you... I've got one right here: (this weekend only, special holiday financing available!)

Like Gift Cards, each SoftLayer server comes with a bloc of value attached: bandwidth. This valuable commodity makes the servers work. You can have all the processing power in the world, a RAID 75 array with 100 petabytes of space, 40 terabytes of onboard memory, and if you don't have any bandwidth... it's all moot.

Unlike gift cards, however, SoftLayer attaches some real value you can actually use. For many users, even touching the top of the 2 Terabyte bandwidth pipe is a real exercise.

However, sometimes, like gift cards, a customer buys a server with value attached... but simply cannot use it all. Or they put the server 100% on the private network and never use the bandwidth at all (Like that $20 gift card from Sludge Emporium your Granddad gave you last year). Is there any way to salvage this value?

Indeed! The SoftLayer Secret Labs rolled out a new feature a while back: Virtual Dedicated Racks. These VDR's (as we cool SoftLayer Secret Lab Technicians like to call them, because TLAs are cool) allow you to virtually rack a group of servers behind a virtual bandwidth meter. All the attached bandwidth value of those servers are lumped together, like a good 'ol pile o' cash, and the aggregate amount attached to the rack. An example:

Each server comes with 2T bandwidth (generally).

Without VDRs, if server bassomatic.76.example.com only uses 1T of bandwidth, and server auntmyrtle.sweaters.example.com uses up 3T, you end up with a full 1T overage on Aunt Myrtle's site, even though you have a full 1T worth of value on the other server not being used!

With VDRs, the two servers pile their value together, making a 4T rack. Bassomatic.76.example.com uses 3T this month, while Aunt Myrtle's site only uses 1T. Combined, their "rack" uses 4T of 4T, so 4-4 = 0!

Like cash, but unlike gift cards, with VDRs you are able to pool your value to allow the usage of more value at one time. Now how awesome is that?

If you would like to experience the excitement of pooling your bandwidth, talk to your SPS (as we cool SoftLayer Secret Lab Technicians like to call our SoftLayer Professional SLalespersons, because an acronym is still a cool TLA as long as only three letters are capitalized), and get yourself a Virtual Dedicated Rack (make sure to call it a "VDR" when you order it to sound cool).

And let 'em know this post by Shawn got you interested. If I get enough referrals, I'll get the December SoftLayer Referral Outback Steakhouse Gift Card!

-Zoey

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