Posts Tagged 'Customers'

March 11, 2016

Cloudocracy: Exit Games talks friendship, survival, cheating in the gaming world

Who makes the servers hum in SoftLayer data centers around the world?

The SLayers are the brains and muscle beneath the SoftLayer cloud—and you had a chance to meet some of us in last year’s Under the Infrastructure series. But each firewall has two sides! And those servers would not be humming if not for our brilliant customers.

This week in our Cloudocracy series, we’re talking to Chris Wegmann, founder and CTO of Exit Games, the company behind Photon Server and Photon Cloud. The Exit Games mission is to make multiplayer gaming easy. Chris, along with with his team, made that happen for 140,000 developers worldwide, creating the largest live cloud for MOG (multiplayer online games) with 45–70 million active users monthly. This is quite a demanding group, to say the least!

It’s no wonder it took Chris quite some time to find the right cloud infrastructure. Having worked with SoftLayer, he admits that it’s more than just infrastructure—it’s an asset to his users and his users users. (You can read more about Exit Games in the case study here.)

Video gaming began as a battle of humans versus machines (think Space Invaders), but for many players today, gaming is about competing or cooperating with friends. We interviewed Chris to discuss screen addiction, cheating, and more.

Chris Wegmann, founder and CTO of Exit Games

SOFTLAYER: If you were stranded on a desert island, what online multiplayer games would you play to keep you company?

CHRIS: Assuming the desert island has good connectivity I would play 8 Ball Pool, Pixel Gun, and Clash Royale. They are fun to play, and you don’t need to be a super expert. You can start easy and enhance your skills over time. They’re really well done, although only one was built using our Photon technology unfortunately!

SL: How and why did you start Exit Games?

CHRIS: In 2003, I was working at a company that was building next-generation services for the brand new 3G networks. My cofounders and I thought multiplayer games on phones could be great. We were horribly early with that idea! We had a rough time trying to survive. Multiplayer gaming started to become popular when the iPhone launched and Apple launched the App Store [in 2008]. We were able to stick around, turn the company around, and we’re now one of the leaders in synchronous multiplayer real-time gaming.

SL: How did you survive? What was different for you?

CHRIS: We had a razor-sharp focus on one particular function: synchronous real-time multiplayer gaming, and nothing else. It’s all about low latency, so we run data centers in a lot of locations worldwide, in partnership with SoftLayer. Game developers can leverage our network, the stability, the performance, and the low price.

Another factor in our success was that we decided very early to use Unity. Unity was not so popular then, but it now has millions of developers and has brought us thousands of professional and indie developers.

All of our products have a free tier, so they’re easy to try out. Then you pay per use. If your game is successful, you pay more. If not, you don’t pay a lot. It’s a fair business model that gave us market penetration.

SL: We hear a lot about the increase in the amount of screen time young people have today. Should we be concerned about online gaming replacing real-world socializing?

CHRIS: It’s a concern to me, especially when I see all the teenagers and kids constantly looking on phones and Facebook, communicating all the time. It seems to be in our nature to communicate all the time.

I remember when I was a kid, my friend and I had Commodore 64s, Game Boys, and whatever later on. Kids are definitely addicted to that stuff, and it’s the parents’ job to restrict it and make sure they are still playing board games and getting social contact.

SL: How big of a problem is cheating in online gaming, through hacking and bots, and what can be done about it?

CHRIS: It's a big topic. The more popular a game gets, the more cheaters and hackers will be attracted to it. Some of our customers’ games are becoming successful quickly and unexpectedly. When a game takes off quickly like that, it’s important that the developer gets up to speed quickly with how cheating could affect their games.

On mobile phones, it’s harder to hack, because you don’t have the tools you have on PCs. On PCs, there are professional companies that build bots and in-memory tools where you can decompile the game and change values in memory, so you need to take countermeasures faster on PC games. You need to be able to track profiles and ban and block users.

Of course, people like to play with friends, but it’s only fun to play if you have opponents with similar skills. Usually your friends are not necessarily good at a game you like to play, so it’s not fun to play with them. You want to play people who have real skill, too, not cheaters. One strategy is to let cheaters play with cheaters. So you need to think about skill-based matchmaking, not just random matchmaking.

We’re partnering with companies to offer anti-cheating chat filters and skills-based matchmaking. We look at what other services developers need and aim to provide a turnkey solution for them—with everything wrapped into a convenient package so it’s easy to use and has a sensible business model and price.

SL: What advice would you give to up-and-coming game developers on crafting an engaging multiplayer experience?

CHRIS: Start by reviewing the most successful multiplayer titles out there and take them as a benchmark. Every half year or so, the bar is rising in what needs to be done. In the past, few companies could afford to build games on a huge scale, but now small teams can build something really good.

Learn more about Exit Games’ Photon Engine here.



February 17, 2016

Cloudocracy: Getting to the art of the matter with Artomatix

Who makes the servers hum in SoftLayer data centers around the world?

The SLayers are the brains and muscle beneath the SoftLayer cloud—and you had a chance to meet some of us in last year’s Under the Infrastructure series. But each firewall has two sides! And those servers would not be humming if not for our brilliant customers.

Today we’re launching a new series that will celebrate individuals and teams building on the SoftLayer cloud: the builders and founders, the creators and the disruptors, the developers and the architects, the dreamers and the visionaries, the inventors and the reformers. The Cloudocracy. 

We’re starting with Neal O’Gorman, co-founder and CTO of Artomatix. O’Gorman calls Artomatix the “artist’s personal slave robot.” The software uses machine learning-based artificial imagination to empower game dev studios that address mundane and dreary art creation tasks. Creating a beach full of pebbles or an army of zombies—with all the elements being unique—now takes minutes, not weeks, which can generate a tenfold increase in productivity. (For more details, read the complete case study here.)

At the GDC Game Developer Conference in San Francisco this spring, Artomatix will launch its inventive approach to generating video game art. We spoke to O’Gorman to find out more.

SOFTLAYER: Thank you for joining us today. Why don’t you start by telling us what Artomatix does?

O’GORMAN: Eric Risser, our co-founder, CTO, and the inventor of our incredible technology, built a game when he was a teenager and he was the artist on the team. He made a house and was delighted with it. Then he realized he had a whole village to create. From then on, he has been looking to solve that problem. Artomatix uses machine learning to quickly make high-quality variants of art assets.

SL: That sounds cool. We hear a lot about machine learning nowadays, but rarely about its use for creative applications. What do you do for Artomatix?

O’GORMAN: Unfortunately, what takes up too much time is funding. You close one funding round and go directly into the next. We’re in the process of closing our seed round. We received EU funding from the Creatify program, which helped us hire SoftLayer. We’ve also received funding from early stage investor NDRC, EU grants, and NVIDIA. We need to get to a point where revenues are coming in, which is the challenge for every startup. In the first year, we worked with companies who sent us art, we generated results, and sent it back. We validated that we were delivering the quality they needed. Then we had to build a product fast enough for them. With SoftLayer, being able to select bare metal servers and identify high-end GPUs gives us the speed we need.

SL: If you were stranded on a desert island, but you could take a few music albums and games with you, what would you bring?

O’GORMAN: Music hasn’t been a huge part of my life, but whatever you listen to in your teenage years ends up sticking. I’d definitely take the greatest Irish band that never made it out of Ireland, The Stunning.

SL: Were you in the band?

O’GORMAN: No! If you haven’t heard of them, and I suspect most people haven’t. Check them out.

For my game, the first one is definitely Quake. I got addicted in college and had to stop playing games because I was playing it too much.

For my next game, I’d say Texas Ask’Em Poker. I didn’t play for The Stunning, but I did create Texas Ask’Em Poker. When I lived in Germany, I was a quizmaster in the local Irish pub. I came across a poker company looking for new games and I had a eureka moment with the idea to put a quiz element into poker.

My final game would be Turrican on the Commodore 64 in the late 1980s. You run around, fly around, and just use your flamethrower. A classic!

SL: Pretty much everything on the Commodore is a classic, although some of the artificial intelligence was more artificial than intelligent in those days. I’ve seen a lot of talk recently about computers taking over creative jobs. Should video game artists feel threatened by your technology?

O’GORMAN: If there are Chinese whispers [the game more commonly known as “telephone”], artists might get concerned. But the reality is that we’re here to help artists spend more time being creative. We’re not replacing their creativity. We’re replacing their tedious, mundane tasks. With hybridization, we can take a few different concepts, iterate, and provide different ideas for the artist to choose from. Artomatix is always based on an example, and that needs an artist.

SL: Game developers can sleep easy! What kind of games will we be playing in 10 years, and how will we be playing them?

O’GORMAN: We’ll see a big push on virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). AR is much more intriguing because with VR you're closed off to the rest of world—you’re not living in the real world. For AR, one of the keys for success is that new art needs to be created on the fly, and it needs to be in sync with the environment the person is in. Picture you and your family sitting at breakfast. On the screen, there’s an extra chair at the table. It’s not an exact copy of another chair, but it fits in perfectly. Sitting in it is someone who looks like a family member, but not any particular one. And they’re a zombie.

SL: Scary stuff! Good luck with your launch!

O’GORMAN: Thank you!



October 2, 2015

Under the Infrastructure: Growth account manager Matthew Miller is a problem solver

We’re creeping up on two months into the series, and Under the Infrastructure has introduced you to seven SLayers. We’re a pretty diverse and interesting bunch—if we do say so ourselves.

This week, we’re staying in amazing Amsterdam and chatting with growth account manager Matthew Miller. Fast approaching his six-year mark at SoftLayer, Miller is a born and bred Texan who moved to Amsterdam almost four years ago. He’s not a fan of the weather, but, well, this Dallas-based company wishes the whole world could be Texas.

SoftLayer: You’re a growth account manager. What does it mean to be a growth account manager?

Matthew Miller: We are responsible for worldwide growth account activities, which include revenue generation, long-term customer relationship management, retention, and business development with Internet-centric and tech-savvy companies. Our daily activities include vetting current Softlayer accounts and proactively engaging the accounts with the use of different communication methods to identify new sales opportunities and grow existing portfolios.

SL: You’re pretty much a relationship builder.

Miller: Correct.

SL: So what particular skills and talents, do you think, make a successful growth account manager?

Miller: Great communicator, problem solver, and trust. Most of the customers we deal with have so many problems, they don’t know where to start. You need to be able to communicate. But I don’t mean that as in just talking [laugh]. I’m talking about being able to explain things within the customer’s range. There are customers we deal with on a daily basis that have different levels of knowledge when it comes to technology and our business as a whole. So being able to understand your customers needs, while being able to explain it to them on their level, really helps build trust and confidence.

SL: So you kinda have to be, like, a technology whisperer. You have to understand what they’re looking for and interpret it.

Miller: To a degree, yes.

SL: What do you think is the coolest thing about your job?

Miller: Every day comes with its own little challenges. Not every day is the same; that’s the excitement of being in this position. You’re not going to have the same day yesterday as you do today. One day it could be super busy, the next day you’re selling, the next day you’re dealing with problems—there are always different day-to-day operations.

SL: Diversity in work responsibilities definitely makes life more interesting. Sort of on the flip side, what do you think is the most challenging thing about your job?

Miller: Customers [laughs]. We deal with customers all day, and that requires me to take the good with the bad. That’s the beauty of the job. One day you’ll be helping out a customer and they’re happy with our service, while you have another customer who’s struggling and is not happy. It’s part of the challenges we deal with daily.

SL: If you woke up and you had 2,000 unread emails and you could only answer 300 of them, how would you choose which ones to answer?

Miller: I’d start from the top and go down.

SL: You would? There wouldn’t be any sort of filtering in looking for specific names or companies or subject lines? You’d just start at the top?

Miller: Well, yeah, because if I can only do 300, it’s first come, first served.

SL: OK. In case anyone ever needs to get your attention and this 300 rule is implemented, they’d better email you a lot.

Miller: I hope I don’t wake up with 2,000 emails [laughs].

We think 2,000 of you should email Matthew right. this. second.


May 12, 2015

The SLayer Standard Vol. 1, No. 12

The week in review. All the IBM Cloud and SoftLayer headlines in one place.

We've got the power
What makes an existing partnership better? More power, of course. IBM and SAP strengthened the bond by adding a new set of integrated Power Systems solutions for SAP HANA in-memory computer applications: POWER8 servers. Welcome to a new era of high speed, high volume data processing.

Straight from the horse’s mouth
On the subject of IBM’s cloudy future, Forbes sat down with none other than Robert LeBlanc, SVP of IBM’s Cloud Business, to clear the haze. Ambition, AWS envy, and giving up on the public cloud? It’s all there.

Friending Facebook
If your company could target the right folks on Facebook, would it be interested? That’s what IBM’s latest ad partnership with the social network is all about. A write-up in Fast Company provides all the details behind the cooperative, which is aimed to "more accurately identify which of [a company’s] customers are among the 1.44 billion people active on Facebook.” After all, learning to leverage the social web just makes sense.

We’re so happy for you
When big things happen for our customers, we love to highlight them. Longtime IBM business partner Manhattan Associates chose IBM Cloud as a preferred cloud provider for its clients (which includes tech support for those running their applications on SoftLayer). And Distribution Central is now offering its 1,000 resellers access to AWS, Azure and IBM Cloud’s SoftLayer cloud services through a single interface. Way to go, everyone.

No autographs, please!
Oh, and it’s come to our attention that we were mentioned on the latest episode of HBO’s Silicon Valley. Although the scenario in which we were mentioned wasn't quite factually accurate, being famous looks good on us, if we do say so ourselves. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to inquire into our star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


April 10, 2015

The SLayer Standard Vol. 1, No. 9

The week in review. All the IBM Cloud and SoftLayer headlines in one place.

Welcome to the Masters
If you’re not practicing your swing this weekend, you’re watching the Masters. Over the next couple of days, professional golfers will seek their shot at landing the coveted Green Jacket. And while everyone might be watching the leaderboard, IBM will be hard at work in what they are calling the “bunker,” located in a small green building at the Augusta National Golf Club.

What does IBM have to do with the Masters? Everything.

Read how IBM, backed by the power of the SoftLayer cloud, is making the Masters website virtually uncrashable.

And for those that can’t line the greens to watch your favorite player, IBM is utilizing the lasers the Golf Club has placed around the course to track the ball as it flies from hole-to-hole. Learn more about the golf-ball tracking technology here.

Open Happiness
In a move to streamline tech operations and cut costs, Coca-Cola Amatil is partnering with IBM Cloud to move some of its platforms to SoftLayer data centers in Sydney and Melbourne—a deal sure to open happiness.

"The move to SoftLayer will provide us with a game-changing level of flexibility, resiliency and reliability to ramp up and down capacity as needed. It will also remove the need for large expenditure on IT infrastructure." - Barry Simpson, CIO, Coca-Cola Amatil

Read more about the new CCA cloud environment and the five-year, multimillion-dollar deal.


February 6, 2015

The SLayer Standard Vol. 1 No. 5

The week in review. All the IBM Cloud and SoftLayer headlines in one place.

IBM Lands Cloud Deals With Marriott, Others
IBM Cloud has entered into deals with Marriott, Opera Software, Sohonet, and Kallo.

What IBM Is Doing to Prove Cloud Computing Can Help Any Industry
IBM is making a major push to convince its enterprise customers, like Marriott, of the benefits of migrating to the cloud.

Sohonet Delivers Cloud for Rendering
Sohonet has signed on to IBM Cloud’s SoftLayer IaaS platform to provide its extensive network of film and media companies with the compute and storage resources they need.

National Grid Uses IBM to Add Predictive Maintenance Capabilities
National Grid is using cloud-based analytics powered by IBM Cloud’s SoftLayer to provide preventative maintenance.

Additionally, SoftLayer CTO Marc Jones recently met with members of the European press during a recent visit to Germany, France, and the U.K. Click here to read some of the key stories covering his visit.


February 2, 2015

#SLCloudLove: Growing an e-Commerce Business On The Cloud

Editor’s Note: Each month in 2015, we’ll be celebrating the cornucopia of reasons why the cloud reigns supreme — from customer tales to cloud insights and everything in between. During February, the notorious month of love, we’re showing you exactly why we heart the cloud. Follow all the fun on your favorite social networks by keeping tabs on #SLCloudLove.

Clicking Add to Cart—that’s how I like to shop these days. Brick and mortar shopping might be retail therapy, but the convenience and online discounts at my fingertips appeases my inherently lazy human tendencies.

With more and more online e-stores cropping up, physical retail outlets can no longer ignore not having an online presence, including a mobile-friendly website and ordering system. The numbers say it all:

  • e-Commerce sales are expected to be more than $1.7 trillion with mobile commerce accounting for nearly $300 billion in sales. Read more here.
  • In India, the e-commerce market is expected to reach $6 billion in 2015—a 70 percent increase over 2014. Read more here.
  • The Chinese government is allowing foreign-owned e-commerce companies to operate in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone as part of a pilot program; the market is expected to see a lot of inflow despite tough competition from local giants like and Alibaba. Read more here.
  • The six largest Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) reached $7 billion in total revenues in 2013 and will grow at a CAGR of 37.6 percent to reach $34.5 billion by 2018. Read more here.

So when I recently attended the iMedia Online Retail Summit, I jumped at the chance to discuss with the audience the benefits of moving their e-Commerce business to the cloud as well as discussing some very interesting stories about e-commerce platforms based in Asia.

Here is a quick overview of the presentation:

e-Commerce on Cloud
There is no denying the high reliance on IT. e-Commerce portals need to handle a rising number of Internet users, provide a secure and convenient online payment system, and support lucrative offers by e-tailors. The problem is that the utilization is unpredictable (except holiday season when it is predictably unpredictable!). If your site slows or freezes, especially during a sale, it can be compared to shutting your store on Black Friday. Customers will abandon their carts, and the social media sites will erupt with negative remarks—recall the recent headliner, Flipkart faces social media backlash over ‘crashes’, ‘misleading’ pricing.

The dilemma: Over-allocate and over-pay for unused resources just to manage sudden shopping spurts, or under-allocate resources and suffer the wrath of the new-age shopper. Cloud resources seems like a natural solution when you don’t want to be stuck in the either-or situation. But, not just any cloud solution will do. If a provider has a lock-in period or contract (even if it’s short-term)—well that's not really cloud, now is it?

Similarly the cloud solution is not justifying your investments if it is going to charge you every time you, as an internal user, try to move your virtual servers across your operating geos to get closer to customers. For example: your next online sale is targeted at holiday shoppers in Singapore or you want to carry out test runs for your Amsterdam customer base, but your core virtual server originally resides in Melbourne.

Solving e-Commerce Challenges with SoftLayer
I like using this image as it gives a great view into how SoftLayer can help e-commerce and e-tail customers manage day-to-day scenarios. From seasonal site traffic spikes to needing backup solutions for business continuity, SoftLayer has a solution for it. Plus SoftLayer brings advantages gleaned from working with e-commerce giants over the past decade.

Walking the Talk—Businesses that are Leveraging Cloud . . . Successfully!
In October 2014, Natali Ardianto,'s CTO, gave a keynote address at Cloud Expo Asia about building one of Indonesia’s largest online travel and entertainment portals. When it first launched a few years ago, faced TCP, DoS, and DDoS attacks while hosting unsuccessfully on two different IaaS providers. The company needed a highly stable infrastructure delivering consistent performance and reliable support to ensure site uptime and a smooth end-user experience. chose SoftLayer to support its site. Running on SoftLayer bare metal servers, systems are now able to handle more than 300 API requests per minute and has experienced a 75 percent cost savings. Watch Natali's video where he discusses his cloud experience, or read the detailed case study. is an impressive collection of over 5 million real-time international hotel deals, a database of more than 800,000 properties and an affiliate base of over 20,000 companies. The company uses a combination of SoftLayer bare metal and virtual servers, load balancers, and redundant iSCSI storage. This provides the company with several thousand cores of processing power and enables it to remain lean and move quickly. The company also uses the SoftLayer infrastructure to provide real-time predictive models to the website and to support its business intelligence tools. Read the detailed case study.

Photo credits @iMediaSummit

While at the conference, I met up with a great bunch of entrepreneurs, startups and giants from across Asia. It was amazing to hear about the journey and growth plans of Rakuten, Life Project, Qoo10, Telunjuk,, and many more. Keep your ears open this coming year. The e-commerce landscape is rapidly progressing and these guys are weaving the fabric.


–Namrata (Connect with me on LinkedIn or, Twitter)

January 30, 2015

The SLayer Standard Vol. 1 No. 4

The week in review. All the IBM Cloud and SoftLayer headlines in one place.

The Man Behind IBM’s Cloud-Based Campaign
Robert LeBlanc, a 33-year IBM veteran, was named the leader of a new dedicated cloud unit in early January.

EMLYON Business School to Create a Smart Business School via IBM Cloud
EMLYON Business School will develop a new digital learning environment to deliver personalized, on-demand business education on a global basis via IBM Cloud’s SoftLayer infrastructure.

KONA’s Choice of IBM Cloud Set to Help Them Claim Significant Part of BaaS Market
KONA Uruguay will launch its new cloud-based application development service on IBM Cloud’s SoftLayer.


January 23, 2015

The SLayer Standard Vol. 1 No. 3

The week in review. All the IBM Cloud and SoftLayer headlines in one place.

IBM: Cloud Revenue Hit $7 Billion in 2014
On Tuesday, IBM announced that its total cloud revenue for fiscal year 2014 hit $7 billion, up 60 percent from the prior-year period.

Chalk Up Another Two Customer for IBM’s Cloud Business
IBM’s newly formed cloud division has announced new agreements with Anthem and Clarient Global.

IBM Bluemix PaaS a Strong Contender Against AWS
IBM's most promising strategy so far may lie in its newest endeavor: Bluemix PaaS, which runs on SoftLayer’s cloud.

10 Things You Should Worry About in 2015
InfoWorld outlines 10 things to look out for in 2015, and number three is IBM’s cloud, including SoftLayer’s expanded footprint of data centers.


January 6, 2015

Three Ways to Enhance Your SoftLayer Portal Account Security

We’ve recently discussed how to craft strong passwords and offered advice on choosing a password manager, but we haven’t yet touched on multi-factor authentication (MFA), which has been available to our customers for many years now.

What is MFA?
MFA is another line of defense for securing your user accounts within the customer portal. The concept behind MFA is simple: Users present two (or more) ways to authenticate themselves by providing something known such as a user name and password and providing something possessed such as a one-time password generated by a device or software application.
Why is MFA important?
Keeping passwords secure has always been a moving target. While you can train staff and enforce complex password policies, it’s difficult to prevent users from writing passwords down, saving them to files, or sharing them with others. By adding MFA, simply having a user password doesn't grant access to the resource. A user will need the user password in addition to a MFA token device, smartphone, or application.
What MFA options are available at SoftLayer?
SoftLayer offers three MFA methods to enhance portal account security:
Symantec Validation and ID Protection (VIP) – After downloading this app to a smartphone, when accessed, it will generate a one-time password. This product can be used to securely access the SoftLayer portal. The app is $3 a month per user.

PhoneFactor – A unique system where a one-time password is texted to a mobile phone. Users also have the option of receiving a phone call to input a PIN before receiving a one-time password. This can be used to access the portal as well as the SoftLayer SSL VPN. PhoneFactor costs $10 a month per user.

Google Authenticator – Another smartphone application with generated one-time passwords, can also be used to securely access the SoftLayer portal. This can be added for any user on an account free of charge.

Quickly Add MFA to SoftLayer Portal Users Today
It’s easy to add any of these MFA services to portal user accounts.

To add Symantec VIP or PhoneFactor:
  1. Log in to SoftLayer portal as the master user.
  2. Under the Account Tab click on Users.
  3. In the right hand column for each user, click the Actions icon and select Add External Authentication. You’ll then be able to subscribe to Symantec or PhoneFactor for that user.
To add Google Authenticator:
  1. Log in to SoftLayer portal as the master user.
  2. From the Accounts dropdown menu, select Users and then select your user account name.
  3. Scroll down and click the link to Add Google Authenticator to your account.
  4. From there, just snap the QR code with your GA application and you’re all set. The next time you log in you’ll be prompted to enter your authentication code after entering your username and password.

Any of these three MFA solutions will help ensure that your portal user accounts are secure, are easy to set up, and quick to install. Feel free to reach out if you have any suggestions or questions about MFA with SoftLayer.

- Seth

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