Posts Tagged 'Dallas'

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: 
February 24, 2011

A Crash Course in CRAC Units - Data Center Cooling

In the past few weeks, we've fielded a few questions from our Twitter followers about temperatures in our data center and how CRAC units work. John mentioned in the "Building a Data Center" series that his next post would be about keeping the data center cool, so I'll try not to steal too much thunder from him by posting a basic CRAC unit explanation to answer those questions.

To record this video, we made the long walk (~2 minutes) downstairs to Pod 1 of SoftLayer's DAL05 facility to give you a first-hand look at the star of the show: the DC Computer Room Air Conditioning Unit. Because this was recorded on a "Truck Day" at SoftLayer, the pod was bustling with activity, so we found a "quiet" open area in a section of the pod that will soon be filled with new servers to record the video.

Due to the ambient noise in the data center, my explanation had to be "yelled," so please forgive the volume.

What else do you want to see/learn about in SoftLayer's data centers?

-@khazard

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

January 25, 2011

Free Sodas: A Perk of Becoming a SLayer

Unless you've taken up residence under a proverbial rock, you know that we have had some changes over the last few months. The dust is beginning to settle after the merger, and the future has never looked brighter. When we said, "Bigger, Better, Badder" ... We meant it! We've hit the ground running and we need of a few more people to come along for the ride. We pride ourselves on finding the best talent to join our team. A quick search of the web and you will find more than one article worth tooting our horn about including:

The list goes on, but under the pretense of humbleness, I will stop there. With all the growth and expansion it's only natural that the number of SoftLayer job postings has been increasing. We are poised for success and invite you to come see what we have to offer.

As mentioned in the title, free sodas are a cool perk, but we offer so much more. Here are just a few other things to consider:

  • Medical and Dental Insurance
  • 401K – company matching after only 90 days of employment
  • Life, AD&D, short and long term disability at no charge to the employee
  • Free snacks/sodas in all of our offices
  • PTO and company Holidays
  • The ability to update your Facebook profile to show that you are employed at SoftLayer Technologies

Take a moment to peruse the job listings at http://www.softlayer.com/about/careers/ and see what your next career could be. You can apply online in a matter of minutes. Check back often, as we are on our way to being the Biggest, Bestest, Baddest!

-Tracy

Categories: 
January 6, 2011

All New Everything

Just about 4 months ago we (former Planeteers) received word that we would soon be moving to a new, shiny and bright office located in North Dallas. Most responses were mixed: What does it look like? Where will I sit? Will the drinks still be cheap? What kind of coffee do they have? You know those types of questions... The "important" ones.

As the days counted down, the anticipation grew stronger. The weather outside grew colder, and the speculation about what was to be expected was roaring like a wild fire. I heard rumors of sitting in cages and construction areas and discussions about ambient office temperatures varying from "polar bear toenails" cold to "Texas July" hot all year long. It was more than a little nerve-rracking.

Finally, big-move Friday was here. I remember it like it was two months ago.

Everything that you owned and accumulated since day one had to be stuffed into a bright reddish-orange plastic crate. For me, that meant more than six years of stuff. We’re talking about documents, paperwork, chotchkies, reports, printed pdf’s, business cards, pens, technology briefs and even a few magazines. Somehow, I managed to get it all in one crate.

Movers were scheduled to arrive at our Stemmons office at 4 PM to start moving computers, phones and anything else we left on our desks. Watching them do this brought a sort of sadness because I knew that the move that we had all been anticipating was really happening. I couldn't help but think about all the years in this office, the memories and changes I was part of.

Needless to say, that lull only lasted for a few hours. I was ready for something new, something fresh: New paint, new floors, new things to learn. In two days, a lot of things were going to be different and I was ready for them. I was so ready that I actually showed up a day early just to get the lay of the land and nothing could have prepared me for what was in store.

We're talking about three buildings totaling over 120,000 square feet. I think I have counted over 20 conference rooms that are all outfitted with meeting necessary amenities. There are somewhere in the ball park of ten coffee machines with over forty different flavors of tea and coffee. I found twelve refrigerators filled to the brim with soda, green tea and Monster (the number one drink of techies). Also, during my travels, I saw at least eight water coolers, a "Sonic" ice machine, three sizes of cups and a healthy supply of my favorite Welch’s fruit snacks! This is, of course, the "important" stuff as I mentioned before.

Oh and I guess it's worth mentioning that there's a data center here as well. Soon to be three pods located right here in our HQ with 5,000 servers each and the most advanced network you have ever seen. You need gigabit? You've got it! You need 2 gigabit? OK, no problem. You need 10 gigabit? Of course. We'll have it for you in less than four hours. You want forty-five cloud servers and three dedicated servers for your MS SQL cluster with private communication between them, iSCSI and SAN replication to Washington DC with a single portal to manage all cloud instances and servers? That's a piece of cake. You want us to deploy a pod in southern California? We'll put that on our expansion roadmap [*EDIT: See Below]. You want out of band management, VPN with every account, multiple Internet backbones, and back-haul between cities for inter-city communication? Check, check, check and yep, you guessed it, Check!

I'm sixty-days old at SoftLayer, and I'm still learning new and exciting things about our infamous platform. I also still use our n00b's guide - the office map that we were provided with upon our arrival to our new office - to find people, conference rooms and printers.

It’s a new year and SoftLayer has taken on a wealth of new talent, building new DC pods concurrently in different cities while continuing to offer new features and products. With Lance at the helm, this re-born company will keep growing at alarming rates in 2011!

-Harold

P.S. Before I wrap this up, I would be remiss if I didn't note that I found one of those pre-move speculations to be true: It is colder than a polar bear's toenails in here. If you ever decide to visit, even in the heat of the Texas summer, bring a parka ... You will need it!

*EDIT: The original post said "No Problem," which was a little flippant. A lot of time, research and investment go into choosing where our next pods will come online. Right now, we're turning up pods in San Jose and Amsterdam, and if a lot of customers call for SoCal to be next, that'll definitely play into the decision-making process. In the meantime, we have a network point of presence in Los Angeles which makes all of our data centers screamingly accessible from SoCal.

November 12, 2010

A Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On

General George S. Patton once said, “A good plan vigorously executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” This statement sums up the SoftLayer philosophy (well some of it anyways) - decisions are made and then quickly executed against – no paralysis by analysis here. Given the speed that the market is moving at, I think this is a good thing.

The events of the past few weeks are great evidence of a market that is moving at a rapid pace with little signs of slowing down.

  • SoftLayer opened our second DC in Dallas at the end of September. In ten days we were pushing 10 GB of traffic. Yesterday we hit 15 GB of sustained traffic.
  • Rackspace announced that they are already hosting 2 million paid users of its hosted email solution.
  • 1 million servers have been announced as registered in Cloudkick.
  • Siemens has revealed that they have 400,000 employees that interact with the HR system for a number of functions including compensation management, performance management ad career development planning via the cloud.
  • The Android version of Angry Birds was downloaded an astonishing 2 million times on its launch day. (Angry Birds publisher, Chillingo was purchased by EA for under $20 million in cash plus other “undisclosed considerations”. I keep thinking that I am in at the wrong end of this business…)
  • The US General Services Administration has announced that its Apps.gov cloud solution is going to add storage, virtualization and hosting to its portfolio. This will impact federal, state, local and tribal governments across the county. This works out to over 19 million employees, spread across thousands of departments (federal, state and local) and tens of thousands of municipalities. (SoftLayer is a part of this with strategic partners, Computer Technologies Consultants, Inc. Check out the PR stuff here.)

My suspicion is that you can pick almost any month over the previous 6 and you would find similar announcements and I suspect that they are going to continue over the next 6 months and beyond as well. The sign post seems pretty clear to me – we are in a rapidly growing market with little signs of a slowdown ahead. I don’t think this is going to be a market for the timid, companies that have a clear vision of what lays ahead and possess the ability to quickly execute against that vision will succeed. The rest will falter and miss the turn ahead. Guess where SoftLayer is going to be?

-@quigleymar

October 28, 2010

Settling In

One of the small thrills in life is settling into a new house. While moving can be stressful, once you get settled into your place, there’s a certain feeling of pride associated with the new move. In the not-too-distant past our staff moved over to the new corporate headquarters in Dallas. Given, there’s the obvious unpacking and exploring every nook and cranny. Once you get settled in, though, set up all your stuff, and explore every corner of the new place, you can finally hang your name on the mailbox and call it your own.

It’s a far cry from our previous space (equate it to moving from a decent apartment, to a squeaky clean new house, full of nifty bells and whistles). We’ve got a brand new A/C system (that works almost too well in the opinion of some), a sonic-style ice machine, and room for three new datacenter pods. We’ve got coffee makers in almost every department (what’s a large scale data provider without caffeine). We’ve got a nifty display in the NOC that gives us an at-a-glance idea of what’s going on within our network. That’s just a few of the things. Ask anyone in our new “house” and they’ll tell you they like the new digs.

I’ve gotten fairly well settled in, and am starting to fall into my new daily routine at the new home. Admittedly I got lost the first few days, but now I can navigate with a fairly reliable degree of certainty. I can locate the coffee machines blindfolded as well. I’m also enjoying the privilege of working so closely with our other departments, now that we’re all housed in the same location. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what the future has to offer in our new home.

-Matthew

October 21, 2010

The Same - But Different

I recently moved from the DAL01 Datacenter to the DAL05 Datacenter. At first glance, everything is the same. I jump on the freeway and drive to a big building, say hello to the onsite security. I go into my work area, do the same job (Server Build Engineer), and bug the same coworkers. Everything appears to be the same, but there are a few differences.

A couple of differences are my daily tasks. Not my work related tasks, but my get to work and get situated tasks. The commute to work is better, less traffic and less freeways to merge over to. When I get to work my normal ritual is to find caffeine to regulate my mood (Yep, my addiction is that bad!). These days if a Red Bull in the OPs fridge isn’t cold yet, or we ran out of my favorite coffee flavor near the OPs coffee machine, I have a third option, I can go scour the Networking or Development or better yet SLales fridges and coffee machines! Nothing feels better than going into work and taking a SLales Red Bull or a Development cup of coffee. :)

A few other differences are the level of communication. I no longer have to use my Blackberry, desk phone, instant messenger or email as a means of communications with other departments. I can now walk over to the Networking area to bug those guys with questions, or find sales to get clarification on an order. In fact, I might even get some of them to assist me in big orders from now on!

In the end though, everything is the same. Same level of awesome service, speed and attention to detail!

-Timothy

Categories: 
September 2, 2010

Three Walks of Speed

I love to travel every chance I get. Growing up, my family would always take a summer vacation. We were just like the Griswalds, making our way across the country in a Station Wagon, driving hundreds of miles to go to a world famous theme park. I’ll admit, it would have been fun holding John Candy hostage with a pellet gun. Wherever we ended up going each year, we would always drive.

As an adult, I still enjoy going on vacations, but the thought of driving a great distance makes me nauseated. Anytime I make plans, I always check and see if I can fly there instead of driving. Some people do not enjoy flying. Some individuals don’t like to wait all day at the airport. Some folks are fearful of flying. But the thought of getting to my destination 95% faster than driving, has always appealed to me.

Being the frugal individual that I am, I usually won’t pay for a direct flight and as a result, will have a connecting flight in route to my destination. Trying to get to my connecting flight always seems to be an adventure. They always seem to be in another terminal, on the other side of the airport. When walking, or in most cases, running to the other terminal, I have noticed a few things about how people walk from one terminal to the next.

Most of your major airports have automatic, or moving sidewalks. These devices have always fascinated me. The usual layout in most terminals is two moving walkways on either side of the terminal, with a standard walkway in the middle. DFW International is set up this way. I have noticed three different ways that people walk through these terminals.

  1. The First is Mr. Safe - he takes the middle path. He might not be in a hurry or maybe he is afraid of a moving floor beneath his feet.
  2. The Second is Mr. Stationary - he is a little more adventurous, but not too risky. He rides the automatic walkway, but does not move from his standing position until he absolutely has to. You might consider this individual to be lazy, but perhaps he is saving his energy to deal with that screaming baby on the next flight.
  3. The Third is Mr. Hurrysome - he is very energetic. Not only is he riding the automatic walkway, he is physically walking on the moving sidewalk to make faster time. This individual is ahead of the pack and in front of everyone else.

Web Hosting Companies like SoftLayer and their competitors usually fit into one of these three categories:

  1. Mr. Safe - always taking the slow path, never doing anything innovative, always playing it safe, never leading the way.
  2. Mr. Stationary - a little more adventurous, but not wanting to get in too much of a hurry. He could move a little faster, but why use all that energy when he can sit back and enjoy the ride.
  3. Mr. Hurrysome - fastest walker, always a step ahead of everyone else, a leader with new technology services like CDN, Data Transfer Services, covering more ground per second than anyone around him, always the first to arrive.

If you sit back and think about it for a moment, you will see that SoftLayer is the only web hosting company that moves like traveler number three. Everyone else is left in the dust.

September 1, 2010

Ford Mustang and SoftLayer Upgrades

Each morning as I back my car of out the drive way, I ask myself, “I wonder how bad traffic will be this morning?” My commute through Dallas traffic is always a challenge making it to work on time. My 1997 Monte Carlo may not be much to look at, but it always gets me to work in one piece. My car has been through multiple wrecks and its biggest flaw is no air conditioning. Wow does it get hot in Texas! To quote that country song “she aint a Cadillac, and she ain’t a Rolls, but there ain’t nothin’ wrong with the radio.”

Picture 1 - Westmoreland

I finally decided to purchase a new vehicle . Any kind of an upgrade would be a vast improvement. I did not care what it looked like, my main concern was, “does it have air conditioning?” I stopped by a Toyota dealership on the way home one night after work. After getting the run around, I decided to make one last stop at the Ford dealership before they closed. As the salemen asked me what I was looking for, I told him “something reliable and economical.” He pointed out the Ford Fussion and then all of a sudden, something magical caught my eye.

Sitting there, calling out my name, was a 2011 Ford Mustang with a V6 3.7L and all 305 screaming horses. I just had to take it out for a test ride. After just a few moments, I knew I had found my upgrade. Not only did it look good, but it was very economical. With an estimated 31MPG and a reasonable sticker price, it was love at first sight.

The longer I thought about my upgrade, the more it reminded me of some SoftLayer customers. Some of our customers have a “monte carlo” server with only 1 proc, 2 gig of ram, and an older motherboard. It may have worked great at one time, but it is clearly time for an upgrade. For a while I had been content with my Monte Carlo, but there comes a time when we all have to upgrade.

  • The Mustang spedometer shows a top speed of 160. What speed processor are you using?
  • The Mustang has more interior room. What size ram are you using?
  • The Mustang gets a lot of second glances. What type of performance is your server getting?

When people see my old vehicle compared to the 2011 Ford Mustang, they usually comment “wow what an upgrade.” Just think what type of response you will get after a long overdue upgrade!

Mustang - Westmoreland

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