Posts Tagged 'BBQ'

August 6, 2012

SoftLayer in the Community - Tour de Pink 2012

Every year, SoftLayer commits to raising money and giving support to a number of charities, and SLayers are all encouraged to submit the organizations and causes that are important to them. Not long after coming to work here, I found myself in a position to pitch one of my favorite charities — Tour de Pink — to Lance and the charity team.

Tour de Pink is one of the major fundraising efforts for The Pink Ribbons Project, a Houston based organization that raises money to fight breast cancer through awareness and educational outreach initiatives. The Pink Ribbons Project supports proper screening for the medically under-served and under-insured population in the Greater Houston Area, and Tour de Pink is the first bike ride in Texas solely benefiting breast cancer awareness and education.

I have been involved with the ride since its inception in 2005, and I manage the logistical support for all of the Pink Pit Stops. The first year of the ride, "support" consisted of me and a guy named Bear, my 1995 Ford Ranger pickup truck, a 25' moving truck with a lift, and 400 pounds of ice. By 2011, we had grown the logistics team to nine dedicated people, four route vans, a roamer and 4000 pounds of ice to support the 2000+ riders traveling seven routes.

Last year was Tour de Pink's seventh, and an opportunity opened up for a company to step in as the presenting sponsor for the ride ... After about six months of official employment with SoftLayer, I knew one thing for sure: If you have an idea, a plan or a cause that matters to you, it's your responsibility to take that idea / plan / cause wherever it needs to go to get addressed — whether it's an opportunity to improve a compliance process or a community cause. I stepped up and brought the idea to SoftLayer's CEO.

In true SLayer fashion, he saw how important the cause was to me, and he quickly commitment SoftLayer's support to the 2011 Tour de Pink.

In addition to the a financial commitment, we provided space in our downtown Houston offices for packet stuffing:

Tour de Pink

And the (infamous?) 3-Bars BBQ team towed the smoker down to Houston to cook up some fine "Q" for the annual Tour de Pink Kickoff Party:

Tour de Pink

SoftLayer VP of Business Applications Development DJ Harris even kicked off the opening ceremonies when the ride rolled around!

After an extremely successful 2011, SoftLayer has extended support for Tour de Pink to 2012! This year's ride is scheduled for September 16, and it will starting from and coming back to the Prairie View A&M University campus. While SoftLayer is the major underwriter of this ride, it's still a fundraiser, and that's where the rest of us come in. The monies that go out into the community are raised through registration of individual riders and teams and from their collective fundraising efforts.

If you want to roll with the cool kids (and believe me, SoftLayer IS cool) and you plan on being in the Houston area mid-September, surf on over to www.tourdepink.org and sign up to join us!

I hope to see some of you out on the ride, but until then, may the wind be always at your back ... and 3-Bars for Life!

-Val

Categories: 
June 14, 2012

My First Week as a SLayer in San Jose

As I write this post, I'm finishing my first week as an employee with SoftLayer. It might seem premature, but I think it's safe to say that it's the best job I've ever had. My friend Marcos gave me a great reference to get my foot in the door at SoftLayer in San Jose (SJC01) as a Server Build Technician (SBT), and I owe him a LOT for that help. Because first impressions are usually pretty significant, I thought I'd take a few minutes share my short experience with the company to provide a bit of perspective to anyone interested in "what it's really like" to work at SoftLayer.

To give you the best picture of what it's like to work at SoftLayer, I have to start with the other SLayers I've met. So far, my coworkers and supervisors have been easy to get along with, and they clearly know their stuff. SoftLayer's "Challenging, but not Overwhelming" motto isn't just for show ... I've got a long way to go to catch up with my peers when it comes to knowledge about the data center, but everyone around me has been so supportive that it doesn't feel too intimidating. The work environment is very casual, and while the tasks at hand are all serious, my coworkers are always telling jokes and fostering a friendly and welcoming work environment.

The second aspect of the job I should focus on is the day-to-day responsibilities I'm learning how to perform. In the data center, we're responsible for building and performing hardware maintenance on all of our customer servers, and a lot of our customer interaction is done via tickets. When a ticket is added to our data center queue, it's pretty wild to see an SBT claim it quickly and immediately spring into action. If a customer orders a new server in our facility, and that server configuration isn't readily available, we get notified, and we have to move quickly to make a hardware change so the server can get provisioned in under four hours. That's been my favorite part of the job so far.

I've always enjoyed putting computers together, so being able to do it on such a large scale (and having the chance to do it a few times per day) is a thrill for me. Even though I've built more than my share of computers in my lifetime, I still find myself learning a lot from the processes and procedures Softlayer has in place. It's pretty cool to see the inventory of high-power server hardware we have in our spare parts room, too.

Being new to a job usually involves a span of time where you feel like a "new guy," but that hasn't been the case at SoftLayer. The crew here at SJC01 has made me feel at home quickly, and they've been patient and helpful when I've had any questions. In fact, as I'm thinking about it, I can't say anything negative about my experience so far with Softlayer.

I'm excited about integrating into the team, and given how much my coworkers hang out during lunch, breaks and after work, I'm sure that'll happen quickly. I want to put on a big office potluck where I can bring down my barbecue grill and cook for them some afternoon ... And given SoftLayer's love of BBQ, I'd imagine that would be a big hit.

Man, all this talk of food is making me hungry.

-Jonathan

June 8, 2012

Fundraising Success = Pink Hair

Last Saturday, June 2, SoftLayer participated in the Pink Soles in Motion BBQ Cook-Off. The infamous 3Bars BBQ crew loaded up the grills and set out for Harley Davison of North Texas in Carrollton to raise money and support for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Because SoftLayer was the BBQ cook-off's presenting sponsor, the pressure was on for our BBQ team to have a great showing, and their brisket didn't let us down:

SoftLayer + Pink Soles in Motion

If you didn't catch my last blog post about the event, Pink Soles in Motion is a Dallas-based team that has set out to raise $200,000 this year for the Susan G. Komen foundation. For the past two years, they've been the top fundraising team in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and we want to help them make get a threepeat. In addition to participating in the BBQ cook-off, we set an internal goal to raise $5,000 to fund breast cancer education, research, treatment and awareness.

Because we only had two weeks to raise the money, we thought we'd have to throw in an extra incentive to help inspire donations to meet our goal: If we raised $5,000, the 3Bars BBQ team would have to professionally dye their hair pink.

When the dust settled and all the numbers were counted ... We had to make a trip to the salon:

SoftLayer + Pink Soles in Motion

We reached our goal of $5,000, and Technology Support matched our contributions. To sweeten the pot even further, SoftLayer donated an additional $4,000, amounting to $14,000 in donations to the Susan G. Komen foundation via the Pink Soles in Motion team! I should send a shout out to 'Sparky,' 'Skinman,' John, Don and Raleigh for following through with their end of the bargain ... And I should probably apologize in advance for giving that picture a permanent residence on the SoftLayer Blog.\

If you live in Texas, you're probably familiar with the saying, "Go big or go home." Our SLayers went big. Given the fact that the SoftLayer community came through with so much support, an avant-garde 3Bars logo even made it into one of the hairstyles:

SoftLayer + Pink Soles in Motion

The SoftLayer 3Bars BBQ flag was displayed proudly (with a little bit of its own pink flair), and we couldn't have been happier with how well the event turned out ... And it should certainly put a dent in Pink Soles in Motion's $200K fundraising goal this year.

Thank you to everyone who donated to help us reach our goal, and Technology Support, you guys rock for matching our contributions! We hope you keep some of the pink-hair pictures close at hand for the next time you see any of these SLayers. I'm sure they'd love to autograph a copy just for you. :-)

-Natalie

Categories: 
May 22, 2012

Real Men Wear Pink ... In Their Hair

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is a Dallas-based charitable foundation that raises millions of dollars for breast cancer education, research, treatment and awareness every year, and given SoftLayer's commitment to charitable giving, it was a no-brainer for us to get involved. Events in cities around the country are hosted throughout the year, the most recognizable being the Race for the Cure and the 3-Day for the Cure 60-mile walk. One of the Dallas area teams participating in this year's 3-Day for the Cure walk in November is Pink Soles in Motion, and SoftLayer is a proud sponsor of their efforts.

Pink Soles in Motion

Over the past six years this team has raised approximately $700,000 for the Susan G. Komen foundation, and for the past two years, they've been the top fundraising team in the Dallas/Fort Worth area! One of the many fundraising events the team puts on every year is a BBQ Cook-off, and when we were given the opportunity to sponsor the event, we jumped on it ... If there's one thing the SoftLayer team loves as much as hosting, it's barbeque.

On June 2, we'll be loading up the infamous 3 Bars BBQ grills with the SoftLayer crew's legendary BBQ and selling it to help raise money for Pink Soles in Motion. I have to tell you, if you haven't tried 3 Bars BBQ yet, you don't want to miss your chance.

Beyond the event sponsorship and our BBQ team's participation, we wanted to go a little further, so we pledged to raise an additional $5,000 with the help of our SLayers and SoftLayer fanatics to help Pink Soles in Motion get back to the top fundraising spot in DFW. While the cause is certainly worth a tax-deductible donation by itself, we came up with a unique idea to inspire contributions: If we reach our $5,000 fundraising goal, a few of your favorite SoftLayer employees will dye their hair pink. And we don't mean temporary spray-in dye. They will get a professionally dyed pink hairdo.

Anyone can wear a pink shirt ... We're making our SLayers step it up a notch.

SoftLayer Challenge

As we started organizing this little fundraiser, we told a few of our friends at Technology Support about the goal (and the incentive), and they immediately jumped on board to help sweeten the deal even more ... They'll match every dollar we raise in support of Pink Soles in Motion and the Susan G. Komen foundation. We also heard that they're looking forward to taking as many pictures as possible of our pink-haired employees.

If you want to see a few SoftLayer employees with pink hair, DONATE and help us reach our goal! Every little bit counts, and donations are tax deductible, so give generously to help Susan G. Komen for the Cure in their quest to eradicate breast cancer.

Oh, and if you're in the DFW area and would like to see the 'results' in person, bring your appetite (and your camera) out to Harley-Davidson of North Texas at 1845 N. I-35E in Carrollton.

-Natalie

Categories: 
October 6, 2011

Raising Funds and Awareness - American Heart

SoftLayer is having a contest between all departments to see who can raise the most money for the American Heart Association. Each department (some departments were combined depending on the amount of employees in the group) was asked to think of a fundraiser, event or just some way the team could raise money for a great cause. Whoever raises the most money wins the grand prize of bragging rights around the office.

The Teams

  • Accounting/Finance
  • Marketing/Strategy
  • Administration/HR/Legal
  • Networking
  • CSA/Managed Services
  • Sales
  • CST
  • SBT/Infrastructure/Implementation
  • Executives (Officers and SVP’ s)
  • Systems – Windows/Linux
  • Facilities
  • Technology
  • Inventory

Most departments have done very well, but given my affiliation with the Marketing team, I want to talk about how amazingly we performed. The Marketing and Strategy team kicked off our fundraising efforts with a BBQ event that consisted of ribs, brisket and potato salad, an auction with some great prizes like Rangers tickets, Calloway Golf polo shirts and FC Dallas Tickets, and T-shirts for sale that read, "DEDICATED and we don’t just mean our servers" sponsored by SuperMicro:

AHA Fundraiser

AHA Fundraiser

And here are a few snapshots from the BBQ Event:

AHA Fundraiser

AHA Fundraiser

AHA Fundraiser

It's pretty clear that 3 Bars BBQ is a pretty big draw in the SoftLayer office.

Needless to say this event was a great success! The Marketing team didn't stop there, though. We had FOUR more auctions ... And we pulled out the big guns (two 600GB SSD hard drives and two 16GB iPad 2s). In my biased opinion, the Marketing team worked the hardest for our donations with sweat and tears ... mainly sweat – you know how hot it is outside in the middle of June in Texas.

To date, our team has raised a little over $7,500 in donations for the American Heart Association. You may say, “Wow that’s a lot of cash!” but one of the coolest ways we were able to raise so much money was that we didn't need to take cash: we got a mobile credit card device so the "I don't have cash on me" excuse was rendered useless! Yeah I know ... we are the smartest team ALIVE! After a few events, every department asked us to use our device for their fundraising efforts.

I am so proud of all the work the Marketing and Strategy teams have put into this fundraiser, and I'm especially proud to be a part of an organization that goes to such lengths to help out a charity.

Go Team SoftLayer!

-Natalie :-)

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June 6, 2011

What I Know: Hosting & BBQ

Last week, Thomas talked about his summertime passion, and it immediately got me thinking of mine. There are two things I know in this world: Hosting and Barbeque. They may be on the opposite ends of the spectrum, but both integral parts of the SoftLayer culture.

Being Texas born and bred, I hear stories that my first baby bed was actually a refinished barrel pit, and at the tender age of 4, I started my first fire right where I used to lay my head. By the age of 7, I graduated from grilling to smoking, and by age 10, I was expected to have mastered the art of mixing fire, smoke and the perfect rub to deliver a baby back rib so tender that you have no choice but to 'slap yo mama!'

I have to admit that I am not an official member of the 3 Bars Barbeque team, but my ribs and steaks have been taken on the road to multiple parts of Texas, and they've won contests in Memphis for their fall-off-the-bone tender texture and their "mmm mmm good" flavor. I can't really divulge my award winning recipe, but I can share my cooking method used to achieve that fall off the bone rib.

You've got to understand that smoking takes time. I generally allow one hour per pound on a nice rack of baby back ribs. In SoltLayer operations terms, for a 6lb rack of ribs, that means you'd have time to register a new domain name, provision a RHEL 5 Cloud Compute Instance, provision 2 dedicated database servers (1 in Dallas and 1 in San Jose), configure the CCI as a Web server, clone the CCI once in Dallas and once in San Jose, order eVault and add a second vault for redundancy, add local load balancing to both sites, use the previously registered domain name and set up Global Load balancing between the IPs of both local load balancers, setup rsync between web servers for one website and configure MySQL replication between your two new database servers (and you'd still have just enough time to configure the eVault backup that you ordered about 5.5 hours previously).

What were we talking about again? Oh yeah, I promised a "cooking method" lesson:

1. Get Your Ribs
Everyone dresses their meat differently ... Some prefer to marinate, some don't. I find that it doesn't make much of a difference, so I usually will remove my ribs from the fridge and rinse the before setting them aside to allow them to warm to room temperature. While that's happening, I continue the rest of the process.

2. Prepare the Pit
I like to use a smoker pit grill ... You know, something this:

3 Bars BBQ

I like to use split wood logs instead of flavored charcoal & wood chips. The wood you use is up to you; I usually do either hickory or mesquite and occasionally a log or two of apple (Beware that Mesquite burns very hot and is harder to stabilize at a consistent temperature when adding more wood to the fire later). Stack and light your fuel of choice in the smoker's firebox – the only place where you will have a fire ... The only thing that belongs in the pit is the meat and the smoke generated by the firebox.

Once you get your fire started, let it burn for a while so it can stabilize. You want the pit area to stay at a constant 225F ~ 250F. If you have enough prep time, you can also soak your wood logs for a couple of hours before you start your fire. This will cause the wood to burn slower and produce a slightly stronger smoke flavor in the ribs. This will also cut down on the amount of wood you "burn" through.

3. Prepare Your Ribs
While your fire is doing its thing and creating some good smoke, you can trim and season your ribs. Trim the membrane from the underside of the rack and season the meat with a dry rub (since it's better suited for longer cook times).

4. Start Cooking
Once your pit has stabilized at the perfect temperate, it's time to add the ribs. I use a rib rack just so I don't have to flip the ribs while they're in the pit, but if you don't have a rib rack, place your ribs on the opposite side of the pit from the firebox bone side down (you have to ensure that the fire doesn't reach your precious rack of ribs. If you are not using a rib rack, you will want to flip them about an hour and a half into cooking.

5. Keep Cooking
I use the 3–2–1 method when smoking: 3 hours on grill, remove the ribs, wrap them in foil, 2 hours on the grill in foil, remove the foil, and one more hour on the grill. By the time you get to that last hour, you'll already find it difficult to flip the ribs as the meat will start falling off the bone. If your seasoning is top notch, you won't need sauce, but the last hour is the time to baste if you want a different flavor in the mix. The 3–2–1 time frame is a loose guide to follow ... You'll need to keep an eye on the ribs to make sure they are not cooking too fast and that you're keeping the flame away from the meat, and you may need to adjust times if your temperature exceeds 250F.

6. Remove the Ribs
Remove your ribs from the pit and allow them to rest for about 15 minutes before your cut them. This break will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

7. Enjoy!
No instructions necessary.

Following these rules, you'll have a great rack of ribs, and if you took time while the ribs were cooking to order and provision that solution I talked about at the top of the post, you'll have an amazing high-availability two-tier hosting solution by the time you take your first bite!

-Harold

May 17, 2011

Row, Row, Row Your Dragon Boat

Following a long-time tradition inherited from The Planet, SoftLayer proudly participated this past weekend in the 2011 Dragon Boat, Kite and Lantern Festival in Irving, Texas. The festival, filled with colorful lanterns and kites, cultural performances, and great food, is centered on a water sport that originated in China over 2,000 years ago: Dragon boat racing.

Dragon Boat

Every year, organizations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area compete against each other by filling a boat with 20 rowers and one "drummer" to propel a 35-foot dragon boat for 250 meters across Lake Carolyn in Las Colinas.

Dragon Boat

Having this event in our own backyard, we thought it'd be a fantastic opportunity for SoftLayer's "3 Bars BBQ" to show off its legendary culinary artistry. In addition to our group of private tents for employees to chill in by the lake, we set up a booth in the food vendor area with tons of delicious brisket, ribs, baked beans and potato salad. And since we're pretty well known for our swag, some free cups and frisbees made their way to the event and ended up sprinkling SoftLayer's logo all over the festival.

Dragon Boat

Under the "DragonSLayers" name, SoftLayer fielded two rowing teams that competed passionately to the chant of "Row, Row, Row!" Watching the races was a lot of fun, and it almost made me question my decision to stay ashore holding a four-pound camera. But hey, there would be no pictures if I hadn't!

With a blazing fast best time of 1:15.7, the DragonSLayers took second place in the corporate division!

Dragon Boat

Counting families and pets, we had over 200 SLayers come out to support our paddlers and enjoy an afternoon filled with fun performances, great food, friendly competition … and lots of dragons.

We look forward to seeing you out there next year! Until then, we'll be meeting in secret to train and hone our dragon boat paddling skills.

-Nick

P.S. If you want to see a few more pictures from the event, head over to our Flickr album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/softlayer/

Categories: 
July 4, 2009

Fourth of July

Fourth of July – Independence Day is more than just a day for us to hang out with friends and family across the United States and gather around the BBQ and watching fireworks and bombs blow up. It is a day that we celebrate our founding fathers courage and bravery in the pursuit of liberty and freedom.

If it wasn’t for these men and their dreams, I would not be sitting here at SoftLayer writing this blog for a company that loves us to share our words and views with others. I have been amazed how over the last few weeks how Twitter and other sites have helped the country of Iran speak their voice and let the world know what is going on over there. We would never know what is going on as their government would not allow it to be voiced on the state ran television.

So, as I am camping this Fourth of July in the San Juan Islands, fishing on the lake and watching the skies over Friday Harbor light up, I will be thankful for what our founding fathers accomplished on that day in 1776.

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