Posts Tagged 'Cbno'

January 30, 2012

Three Bars for Life

Working at SoftLayer has its perks, and one of my favorite perks to enjoy over the last three years is the ability to use a week and a half of my vacation time to travel over to Hawaii. I normally visit the Lahaina area on Maui, as I have family over there that operate Lahaina Family Farms. This year, I was able to help them plant hundreds of vetevir plants for irrigation control ... And I also found myself getting a new tattoo.

Before I go any further, I should probably back up and talk about how unique the SoftLayer culture is. In 2010, a few of the SLayers in Dallas got SoftLayer-sponsored tattoos from an artist that visited our headquarters. We have a Facebook album of SoftLayer tattoos that features some of that ink.

I work in SoftLayer's Seattle facility, so I wasn't able to join in on the fun in the Dallas office, but Lance extended the offer to anyone in the company that wanted to get a tattoo. As one of the few guys in Washington that has any ink on my body, I said that if the unofficial SoftLayer tattoo artist would come to Seattle for us, I'd get it done. There wasn't enough demand to justify a trip from Texas, but Lance said I could expense it if I wanted to join the club ... The only requirement was that the tattoo had to incorporate SoftLayer in some way.

I had a few ideas, but nothing struck me as a perfect design for SoftLayer Seattle. When I was in Lahaina, I stopped by and visited Tony, a tattoo artist at Skin Deep Tattoo who did a cover up for me a few years ago. He asked me how work was going, and I started telling him about how much I loved SoftLayer's culture and how the company has grown so substantially in just a few short years ... And he was impressed that we've added eleven more data centers on three different continents in the four years since we expanded from Dallas into Seattle.

I told him about Lance's tattoo offer, and we came up with this amazing SoftLayer Seattle design:

Sehmel Tattoo

I know it's a little crazy to get a work-inspired tattoo, but there aren't many places where you hear people saying things like "Three Bars for Life!" as you walk through the office ... I've just taken "Three Bars for Life" a little more literally in the form of a permanent tattoo. I've had a wonderful last four years, and can't wait for the many more to come.

3BFL!

-Bill

P.S. If you don't love the company you work for this much, you can always join the SoftLayer team. We're growing like crazy, and we're looking to add a lot of SLayers to the crew.

Categories: 
February 11, 2011

Naming Rights

Anyone out there have a cool billion in cash lying around? If so, call Jerry Jones and you can have the naming rights to Cowboy Stadium. You know the one where they just played the Super Bowl and where they tried to break the all-time attendance record by putting in 20,000 temporary seats? Too bad the contractors that had been working 24/7 for 72 hours walked off the job 3 hours before the game and left 400 paying customers without seats.

With all that bad press, maybe you could get the naming rights for $800K now. If you want to give it a shot, you can send a check made out to SKINMAN C/O SoftLayer, and I'll do my best to get your name on the outside of the stadium ... even if I have to paint it there myself.

SoftLayer has lower rates on our naming rights. When we moved into our new Alpha Road headquarters, we were a little shocked to see how many conference rooms there were. If you've had a chance to see our office space, you probably came to the conclusion that it was designed with mouse/cheese-type mazes in mind. We had to figure out a good way to find things, so we actually decided to pay someone to help us name the conference rooms.

And so the contest began.

We asked all employees and a few outside creative agencies to nominate their favorite conference room themes, and we came up with quite a diverse list: Texas rivers, arcade game names (even though this one had been done before), beer brands, Scotch labels, football teams, colleges, types of Linux, processors names ... The list ended up including around 40 different themes. We voted to narrow down the top 5, and we let the C-levels and Lance make a final choice. The winning theme: Names that were significant in SoftLayer history.

With that direction, a few of us sat down and started thinking about all the things that got us here today. And BAM! conference room names abound.

Recently, our social media ninja gave you a glimpse at the conference rooms and promised that I'd come through and share the etymology of the names ... So here we go:

  • SLales – We tend to turn every word we can SL specific so this is the conference room closest to "sales" and we call is SLales!
  • CBNO – This is our large training room. As you might know by now, CBNO stands for "Challenging But Not Overwhelming." This is our internal mantra. Since the day I started at SoftLayer almost 4 years ago, this has been my life.
  • Geneous – Notice the spelling of "Genius" is incorrect. This is our board room ... There is a great story behind this name, but I have to let Lance tell it. If you want to hear it, leave a comment on this post, and I'll get him to throw together a blog specifically for this one.
  • Unicorn – If you've followed our blog for a while, you know that Sam Fleitman (COO) has been asked over and over to come up with things that just don’t exist. The joke became that he was always producing unicorns, and his office at one time was decorated heavily with they mythical beasts. In the new headquarters, his personal office is off limits (or so he thinks), so we dedicated a conference room to the memory of all the unicorns that have passed away.
  • Automation – Since we live it and breathe it, it was only fair that we name a conference room after it. If we do anything 3 times, someone is looking at automating it.
  • Innovation – We are bleeding edge, and that's the way we like it. This room is a reminder of that mentality.
  • 204A – This conference room is the actual building name for this room. A poor lawyer was stuck in this room right after we moved in, so we assume it is haunted by a phantom that dislikes lawyers. We chose not to name the room in respect for that ghost.
  • SLacker – We had a series of blogs previously that showed a schism in our workforce workforce. I am in the SLacker camp. This room is dedicated to all of us.
  • Pink – We have a certain CFO - who will remain nameless - that always wears pink. This is his personal conference room. It makes him feel special.
  • 3 Bars – Named after the small logo that we all know and love ... and are tattooed with.
  • SLayer – We had to throw the SLayers a bone, so we gave them a room too. Their jealousy of the beautifully named SLacker conference room could have been caustic.
  • Funky Truck – When the company was first starting out, this game almost single handedly stopped all progress. The original ten employees were a bit competitive at times, so this game had them each trying to one-up each other. Luckily they moved on to Facebook games.
  • 05-05-05 – May 5th, 2005 of course.
  • Jeep – Drive through our parking lot, and you'll see the inspiration for this conference room names. Being in Texas, our parking spaces have to accommodate a lot of Jeeps, trucks, SUVs ... and even a Smart Car or two.
  • Muenster – 3 Bars BBQ! It’s almost time. End of April. Muenster, Texas. GermanFest! This is now a long-standing tradition at SoftLayer: Go hang out, have some fun, relax and eat some 3Bars BBQ at the BBQ cookoff.
  • Midway – This room is named nostalgically after the street address of our very first office.
  • Sharkbyte – I don’t like sharks, they scare me. Someone else has to tell you all about this one.

-Skinman

February 7, 2011

That Which We Call a Conference Room ...

As I was walking through the halls of our Dallas office, I happened to pass an door that seemed like an open portal into another dimension. Where you'd expect to finding boxes of cables and keyboards on metal racks, there were a few old wooden trunks lining the walls of the dimly lit space. Naturally, I had to investigate.

As I carefully opened the trunks, to my amazement, I came across loads of books from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Among the apothecary books and alchemy texts, I made an amazing discovery: a few pages of Shakespearean literature that seem to have been written anachronistically about SoftLayer Alpha headquarters:

'Tis but thy name that is my mystery;
Thou art thyself, though not a meeting room.
What's a meeting room? It is not hand nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? That which we call a conference room
By any other name would be as productive;
So Sharkbyte would, were it not called Sharkbyte call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which it owes
Without that title. Sharkbyte, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Host productive meetings.

Now I'm not suggesting that Bill Shakespeare set out to write an epic play about our facility that just wound up being Romeo and Juliet, but since the date in the corner of one of the pages was "1593," I wouldn't be surprised. In a flash of clairvoyance, he saw into the future and puzzled over the curious names outside each of our conference rooms ... Only to come to the conclusion that while the names didn't define the rooms, those rooms would still be phenomenally productive.

Switch a few words in that original text, and you've got yourself one of the most famous scenes in Romeo and Juliet. No big deal.

What were these curious names? See for yourself:

SLayer, SLacker, Unicorn, 3 Bars, 204A, Funky Truck ... The narrative wasn't clear to him at the time, but they all have a special meaning and fit into a bigger plan. Here is a full list of the Alpha conference room names:

  • SLales
  • CBNO
  • Geneous
  • Unicorn
  • Automation
  • Innovation
  • 204A
  • SLacker
  • Pink
  • 3 Bars
  • SLayer
  • Funky Truck
  • 05-05-05
  • Muenster
  • Midway
  • Sharkbyte

Flex your own ESP muscles and post a comment with what you think each of the names means.

We'll reward the most creative responses (and the most accurate responses) with SoftLayer swag of your choice, and in a few days, SKinman will post the real reasons behind all of the names.

-@khazard

November 17, 2010

SLAyers 'R Us

Mergers are a true test of a company’s mettle – the stress involved with working an integration process with the need to continue to drive the business is almost overwhelming at times (CBNO!). The activity that is going on around me at present is awe inspiring – everybody is pitching in to make this work. It is great to see that we are making it happen – just rewards for all the effort expended.

Mergers also mean change. And I don’t just refer to the fact that we are welcoming new colleagues to the SoftLayer team. I am also referring to the fact that we are changing how we do business. We are bringing together two different organizations and combining the best components of each to drive the most value for our customers.

This inevitably means that customers are going to see some change in how they interact with SoftLayer. For example, the portal is going to morph into something that is much better than what SoftLayer or the Planet were doing separately and new product additions will arrive by combining The Planet offers with SoftLayer’s automated (automagic from now on) implementation and service delivery. We think these things are big wins for the existing and new customers.

A tangible example that I can talk about now (we need time to get portals and new products to market!) revolves around SLAs. The new SLAs will work to the benefit of existing Softlayer and the Planet customers as well as new customers.

The SoftLayer SLA is improved upon by changing the SLA for hardware and hardware upgrades. The old world considered a 4 hour promise before credits started to accumulate; the new world moves that to 2 hours. In addition, service outage credits start accumulating after 30 minutes of down time versus 43 minutes under the old 99.9% uptime guarantee.

The Planet SLA is improved upon by introducing a hardware SLA across the board versus just for customers of a managed services product. In addition to the 100% uptime promise that we are keeping, we have erased the need for a customer to raise a ticket before the clock starts ticking. Once there is a problem, we start the clock running.

At the end of the day, the reason we have SLAs in place is simple. Service credits on next month’s invoice are of less value to you than the fact that the SLA is driving SoftLayer to deliver on a service promise. If it’s broke, we are going to fix it. Think of the service credits as a bonus – the real value is getting your stuff up and running again.

-Steven

November 8, 2010

Innovate or Die

Softlayer moved into a new complex (complex sounds better than building) in July. Like everywhere else, the building has its quirks – all part of what help the place feel like home. Those quirks have extended to how we have named the conference rooms throughout the building.

Being relatively new to the place, I take a certain amount of delight in discovering how each room was named. For example, CBNO translates to Challenging But Not Overwhelming, which is a mantra SoftLayer has adopted; Muenster is not named for the cheese, but for the Germanfest in Muenster, Texas that Sam and the SoftLayer BBQ team attend each year; and Jeep has its name due to the wide variety of Jeeps that are found daily in the SoftLayer parking lot. However, I think the most appropriate name has to be Sharkbyte. The reason is simple – Softlayer is an obligate ram breather.

The room features a stuffed shark that is mounted on the wall. The fish in question is a Bull shark, it is 7 feet long and weighed 200 pounds before it was caught off the Florida coast following a momentous struggle with SoftLayer’s CSO, George.

The urban myth goes that all sharks have to keep moving in order to maintain a flow of water over their gills or they risk suffocation. In reality this is true for only about two dozen of the 400 identified shark species. The species include the Great White and the Mako Shark. These species are called obligate ram breathers.

Like the Great White, SoftLayer is an obligate ram breather. The difference is that SoftLayer needs to keep innovating to keep thriving. Without constant innovation, we lose our competitive edge and risk falling back into a pool of ‘me too’ players in the market. The true test of this theory comes when we are faced with extraordinarily challenging times. The work to merge SoftLayer and The Planet is a great example of this. Innovation keeps coming even though everyone has been spending significant time focusing on how to deliver a seamless customer experience from day one. In the past few months we have partnered with Nimsoft to deliver a unique network monitoring solution to the cloud; a new customer driven firmware update tool has been developed and launched; ‘smarter’ signup forms that will have multi server sign up forms (among other things) are available and we have given customers increased network transparency. At Softlayer we simply cannot stop.

CBNO.

-@quigleymar

Subscribe to cbno