Posts Tagged 'Dedicated'

June 28, 2012

Never Break Up with Your Data Again

Wouldn't it be nice if you could keep the parts of a relationship that you like and "move on" from the parts you don't? You'd never have to go through the awkward "getting to know each other" phase where you accidentally order food the other person is allergic to, and you'd never have to experience a break up. As it is, we're faced with a bit of a paradox: Relationships are a lot of work, and "Breaking up is hard to do."

I could tell you story after story about the break ups I experienced in my youth. From the Ghostbuster-jumpsuited boyfriend I had in kindergarten who stole my heart (and my barrettes) to until it was time to take my had-to-have "My Little Pony" thermos lunchbox to another table at lunch after a dramatic recess exchange to the middle school boyfriend who took me to see Titanic in the theater four times (yes, you read that correctly), my early "romantic" relationships didn't pan out in the "happily ever after" way I'd hoped they would. Whether the result of an me unwelcome kiss under the monkey bars or a move to a different school (which might as well have been on Mars), I had to break up with each of the boys.

Why are you reading about my lost loves on the SoftLayer Blog? Simple: Relationships with IT environments — specifically applications and data — are not much different from romantic relationships. You might want to cut ties with a high maintenance piece of equipment that you've been with for years because its behavior is getting erratic, and it doesn't look like it'll survive forever. Maybe you've outgrown what your existing infrastructure can provide for you, and you need to move along. Perhaps you just want some space and need to take a break from a project for six months.

If you feel like telling your infrastructure, "It's not you, it's me," what are your options? Undo all of your hard work, schedule maintenance and stay up in the dead of a weeknight to migrate, backup and restore all of your data locally?

When I talk to SoftLayer customers, I get to be a relationship therapist. Because we've come out with some pretty innovative tools, we can help our customers avoid ever having to break up with their data again. Two of the coolest "infrastructure relationship"-saving releases: Flex Images (currently in public beta) and portable storage volumes for cloud computing instances (CCIs).

With Flex Images, customers using RedHat, CentOS or Windows systems can create and move server images between physical and virtual environments to seamlessly transition from one platform to the other. With about three clicks, a customer-created image is quickly and uniformly delivered to a new dedicated or cloud server. The idea behind Flex Images is to blur the line between physical and virtual environments so that if you feel the need to break up with one of the two, the other is able to take you in.

Portable storage volumes (PSVs) are secondary CCI volumes that can be added onto any public or private CCI. Users can detach a PSV from any CCI and have it persist in the cloud, unattached to any compute resource, for as long as necessary. When that storage volume is needed again, it can be re-attached as secondary storage on any other CCI across all of SoftLayer's facilities. The best relationship parallel would be "baggage," but that's got a negative connotation, so we'll have to come up with something else to call it ... "preparedness."

We want to help you avoid break ups and provide you easy channels to make up with your old infrastructure if you have a change of heart. The result is an infrastructure that's much easier to manage, more fluid and less dramatic.

Now if I can only figure out a way to make Flex Images and portable storage volumes available for real-life relationships .... I'd make millions! :-)

-Arielle

February 1, 2012

Flex Images: Blur the Line Between Cloud and Dedicated

Our customers are not concerned with technology for technology's sake. Information technology should serve a purpose; it should function as an integral means to a desired end. Understandably, our customers are focused, first and foremost, on their application architecture and infrastructure. They want, and need, the freedom and flexibility to design their applications to their specifications.

Many companies leverage the cloud to take advantage of core features that enable robust, agile architectures. Elasticity (ability to quickly increase or decrease compute capacity) and flexibility (choice such as cores, memory and storage) combine to provide solutions that scale to meet the demands of modern applications.

Another widely used feature of cloud computing is image-based provisioning. Rapid provisioning of cloud resources is accomplished, in part, through the use of images. Imaging capability extends beyond the use of base images, allowing users to create customized images that preserve their software installs and configurations. The images persist in an image library, allowing users to launch new cloud instances based their images.

But why should images only be applicable to virtualized cloud resources?

Toward that end, we're excited to introduce SoftLayer Flex Images, a new capability that allows us to capture images of physical and virtual servers, store them all in one library, and rapidly deploy those images on either platform.

SoftLayer Flex Images

Physical servers now share the core features of virtual servers—elasticity and flexibility. With Flex Images, you can move seamlessly between and environments as your needs change.

Let's say you're running into resource limits in a cloud server environment—your data-intensive server is I/O bound—and you want to move the instance to a more powerful dedicated server. Using Flex Images, you can create an image of your cloud server and, extending our I/O bound example, deploy it to a custom dedicated server with SSD drives.

Conversely, a dedicated environment can be quickly replicated on multiple cloud instances if you want the scaling capability of the cloud to meet increased demand. Maybe your web heads run on dedicated servers, but you're starting to see periods of usage that stress your servers. Create a Flex Image from your dedicated server and use it to deploy cloud instances to meet demand.

Flex Image technology blurs the distinctions—and breaks down the walls—between virtual and physical computing environments.

We don't think of Flex Images as new product. Instead—like our network, our portal, our automated platform, and our globe-spanning geographic diversity—Flex Image capability is a free resource for our customers (with the exception of standard nominal costs in storing the Flex Images).

We think Flex Images represents not only great value, but also provides a further example of how SoftLayer innovates continually to bring new capabilities and the highest possible level of customer control to our automated services platform.

To sum up, here are some of the key features and benefits of SoftLayer Flex Images:

  • Universal images that can be used interchangeably on dedicated or cloud systems
  • Unified image library for archiving, managing, sharing, and publishing images
  • Greater flexibility and higher scalability
  • Rapid provisioning of new dedicated and cloud environments
  • Available via SoftLayer's management portal and API

In public beta, Flex Images are available now. We invite you to try them out, and, as always, we want to hear what you think.

-Marc

November 21, 2011

SLaying at Cloud Expo West 2011

A month ago, Summer talked about how SoftLayer defies the laws of physics by being in several different places at the same time. With a worldwide network and data center footprint, that's always going to be the case, but when we have several events going on in a given week, we're even more dispersed. As Summer mentioned in her Server Challenge blog this morning, she traveled east to New York City for ad:tech with a few SLayers, and I joined a team that headed west for Cloud Expo West in Santa Clara, California.

We set up shop on the expo floor and had the opportunity to meet with interesting and interested attendees between session. In addition to our exhibit hall presence, SoftLayer had three SLayers featured in presentations, and the response to each was phenomenal.

Our first presenter was none other than SoftLayer CTO Duke Skarda. His presentation, "Not Your Grandpa's Cloud," was about dedicated servers and whether cloud computing may be surpassing that "grandpa" of the hosting industry. Joined by RightScale CEO Michael Crandell, Duke also announced our SoftLayer's new relationship with RightScale. If you didn't have a chance to join us, we have a treat for you ... You can download Duke's presentation from Sys-con!

Five minutes after Duke left the stage, SoftLayer Director of Product Innovation Marc Jones spoke to Cloud Expo attendees about "Building at Internet Scale in a Hosted Environment." His focus was how businesses could enable technologies, design and architecture of Internet scale solutions in a hosted environment. He shared trends from SoftLayer customers and partners, explained what SoftLayer believes Internet-scale is from a technology perspective, and the products and services in the market that create a scalable solution.

On Day 3, SoftLayer Director of Corporate Analytics Francisco Romero presented a question to attendees: "How Smart is it to Build Your Own Cloud?" With concerns around security, hardware, software and flexibility, is a business better off going with a hosted solution over building its own cloud infrastructure. Spoiler alert: He showed how the hosted environment was head-and-shoulders over the in-house environment in most cases.

All in all, Cloud Expo West was an exemplary tradeshow for SoftLayer ... Three fantastic speakers in two days driving traffic to our booth where we could share how SoftLayer has built our cloud and how our approach is part of a bigger effort to drive innovation in the world of hosting.

As Summer mentioned in her post, we want to see your smiling faces at our booths and in our presentations in the future, so bookmark the SoftLayer Event Calendar and start planning your trips to meet us in 2012!

-Natalie

November 7, 2011

Global Expansion: Amsterdam is LIVE!

At times, the meticulous planning, logistics and execution around the SoftLayer Amsterdam data center launch has felt like a clandestine military operation. Today, the wait is over! We're finally ready to go "LIVE" with our new state-of-the-art facility, along with network Points of Presence (PoPs) in Amsterdam, London and Frankfurt.

Having a European presence not only gives us proximity to customers but a foothold into the entire continent to help drive more innovation and deliver a better end-user experience. Currently more than 50 percent of our business is done outside North America, so our continued expansion into international markets is so vital to long-term growth.

Amsterdam is our "digital gateway" into Europe, extending our capabilities so customers can deploy, scale and manage their Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions based on SoftLayer's private network. Here's a quick glimpse into what the new data center offers:

  • Capacity for more than 16,000 servers
  • Redundant network infrastructure
  • Fully-automated platform
  • Unique pod design concept

And here's an actual glimpse into the data center (taken last week as we were putting the final touches on the racks ... as you can see by the unbound cables at the backs of the server and the reference labels in the front):

SoftLayer Amsterdam

SoftLayer Amsterdam

SoftLayer Amsterdam

We now have 13 data centers and 16 PoPs worldwide. Each data center functions independently, with distinct and redundant resources, while still being fully integrated into SoftLayer's existing facilities. The end result for our customers is maximum accessibility, security, and control.

Our goal for Europe is to deliver the BEST cloud, dedicated, and managed hosting solutions on the continent ... just like we do in North America and Asia. Ten months of painstaking research, work and preparation are done, and now our customers will get to reap the rewards.

What are you waiting for? Get your first server in Amsterdam! To celebrate the launch of the new facility, we're offering our Triple Double special on servers provisioned in AMS01 for a limited time: Free double bandwidth, double RAM and double HDD!

Now it's time to send our clandestine military operation's "Go Live Crew" to an undisclosed location to start preparing for our next strategic infiltration ...

-@quigleymar

October 10, 2011

A Manifesto: Cloud, Dedicated and Hosting Computing

We are witnessing a fundamental shift in the IT industry. It is forever changing the way technology is delivered and consumed. The pay-as-you-go model for everything you need in IT is shattering the old computing paradigms, from software licensing models and hardware refresh cycles to budgeting operating costs. This change is bringing about more control and transparency to users while accelerating the commoditization of IT by making it easily available through a new model.

This new model comes in three major "flavors": Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. We incorporate and enable all three by offering a unified, fully automated platform to enable greater customer control over their IT environments. The key tenants of this emerging model for SoftLayer are innovation, empowerment, automation and integration. Here's how we deliver against these four key tenants.

Innovation: We want to lead the industry by offering best of breed and proprietary cloud, dedicated, and managed hosting solutions, based on our own intellectual property. Currently, we have more than 252,000 hours invested and 2.6 million lines of code developed around these solutions. Customers can take charge of every aspect of their IT operations (servers, storage, networking & services) through our fully automated platform. Our Customer Portal and fully featured APIs give customer more control by providing direct access to more than 100 back-end systems and activities — every aspect of IT operations can be managed.

Empowerment: We turn IT operations into a predictable fixed cost. Customers can stay focused on achieving their business goals, not managing IT infrastructure. We offer expert planning and support from a certified, 24/7 support staff. Customers can deploy and scale when they want with one-day and on-demand automated provisioning. They can keep it as long (or short) as needed, with monthly contracts. In addition, customers can choose what they want to manage and what they don't, with the ability to have hybrid IT self-managed and managed environments. This speaks to the flexibility of our platform!

Automation: This is an area that makes SoftLayer stand out from the pack. We automate deployment and management of all services, accelerating provisioning time, streamlining administrative tasks, and making it all on-demand, every day and night. With automation that mitigates the risk for human error, comprehensive security practices and options, and a 24/7 team of certified engineers, we provide greater stability, a 100% Uptime Guarantee, and around the clock support for any issues or service.

Integration: This is the final ingredient to making it ALL work. We seamlessly integrate hardware, software, and networking into a unified service, all conveniently controlled through our easy-to-use Customer Portal and robust APIs. We provide full information, full-time through our Customer Portal and APIs, for every service we provide; there is no data about a system that we keep from our customers, from usage statistics to network performance and beyond. We have complete transparency.

These four key tenets are what set us apart. When SoftLayer started back in 2005, the team's goal was not to be Go Daddy on steroids. We set our sights on being the de facto platform for mainstream businesses to run all their IT operations. This means the complete gamut of applications and workloads with no compromise of performance, security, reliability and access. We are entering into a new IT era, where "connected everything" is the norm. It reminds me of the old phrase "the network is the computer" from Sun Microsystems' slogan. We have the foundation in place, which will make for an unforgettable journey. Let us know what you think.

-@gkdog

May 25, 2011

"The Cloud" via Tools and Bridges

As Chief Scientist (or Chief Boffin, if you like), I spend a significant amount of time participating in industry, partner and customer events alike. This week is a great example, as I will be speaking at both All About the Cloud and the Citrix Synergy event in San Francisco. I will be covering similar ground on both occasions: the general idea is that the world does not revolve around "the cloud." In fact, "the cloud" tends to be good for certain things and not so good for others. The challenge is that many customers seem to think that cloud is a panacea, solving all of their problems. Often, customers come to us with a blurred idea of why they want cloud, sometimes defaulting to, "The CEO says we need some cloud."

My presentation at the All About the Cloud event is going to focus on the cloud question by trying to understand what each tool does well and so you can deploy accordingly to ensure needs are met. I'll provide a backdrop market growth and then dive into dedicated, virtual and hybrid (cloud + dedicated) solutions with an eye to understanding each solution in broad terms ... As an aside, I wanted to show up with a drill, a nail and a chunk of 2x4 to demonstrate this: I was going to pound the nail into the board with the drill, and then I was told this would be a bad idea. I may yet show up with some tools – all I need is a Home Depot close to the Palace Hotel!

The Citrix presentation is not quite so bold - well, it did not involve props in its initial incarnation. For the Synergy crowd, I'll speak to a few case studies that leverage hybrid solutions to best meet their needs. Specifically, I will discuss companies that have deployed cloud + dedicated, SoftLayer dedicated + someone else's cloud (the horror!) and an enterprise example with a mix of internal data center assets and SoftLayer assets.

The enterprise example is an interesting one and it is timely given what Citrix is up to. Part of the challenge with most enterprise customers is the fact that many have invested significant capital (both dollars and the human variety) in their own infrastructure. This often means that an additional level of complexity is introduced as the enterprise must consider how to bridge the gap between their own infrastructure and another, external (hopefully a SoftLayer) environment.

Citrix is about to launch Cloud Bridge which will help to manage through some of this – the offering enables customers to transparently connect their own data centers with an off premise cloud environment. SoftLayer can make this happen in two ways. Cloud Bridge will sit within Netscaler Platinum offering that we support and customers will have the ability to deploy themselves should they choose to.

I will follow up on this blog with some depth that covers both presentations, as I think this is a conversation worth continuing. In the meantime, I am off to find a Home Depot ...

-@nday91

April 26, 2011

Hybrid Hosting - What Does it Really Mean?

In our first 3 Bars - 3 Questions video interview, SoftLayer CTO Duke Skarda talked about Hybrid Hosting with Kevin, and last week, I tackled the topic in a session the Texas Technology Summit in Houston. If you have a few minutes and want to learn a little more about SoftLayer's take on hybrid computing and hybrid hosting, you can pull up a virtual chair and see my presentation here:

Even though hybrid hosting is relatively young, it has a great deal of potential. Unlike some of the hyped technologies and developments we hear about all the time, hybrid hosting isn't going to replace everything that came before it ... On the contrary, hybrid hosting encompasses everything that came before it, allowing for flexibility and functionality that you can't find in any of the individual component technologies.

We weren't able to record all of the questions and answers at the end of the session, but one of the most surprising themes I noticed was a misunderstanding of what "Cloud Infrastructure" meant. Those questions reminded me of a fantastic BrightTALK Cloud Infrastructure Online Summit that featured several interesting and informative session about how cloud computing is changing the way businesses are thinking about deploying and managing their IT infrastructure. I know it seems like we're preaching to the choir by posting this on the SoftLayer Blog, but take a look at the BrightTALK Summit's webcast topics to see if any would be helpful to you as you talk about this mysterious "cloud" thing.

-@toddmitchell

January 20, 2011

Blurring the Line Between Dedicated and Cloud Service

What does "the cloud" mean to you right now? Does it mean "the Internet?" Is it how you think of outsourced IT? Does the nephologist in you immediately think of the large cumulonimubus creeping up the sky from the South? We read about how businesses are adopting cloud-this and cloud-that, but under many definitions we have been using cloud servers for years.

A couple years ago, Kevin wrote a post that gave a little context to the "cloud" terminology confusion:

The Internet is everywhere and the Internet is nowhere.

The fact that we can't point to anything tangible to define the Internet forces us to conceptualize an image that helps us understand how this paradox is possible. A lot of information is sitting around on servers somewhere out there, and when we connect to it, we have access to it all. Cloud, web, dump truck, tubes ... It doesn't matter what we call it because we're not defining the mechanics, we're defining the concepts.

For years, hosting companies have offered compute resources over the Internet for a monthly fee, but as new technologies emerge, it seems we have painted ourselves into a corner with our terminology. For the sake of this discussion, we'll differentiate dedicated servers as single-tenant hardware-dependent servers and cloud servers as multi-tenant hardware-independent servers.

Dedicated servers have some advantages that cloud servers typically haven't had in the past. If you wanted full OS support and control, predictable CPU and disk performance, big Internet pipes, multiple storage options and more powerful networking support, you were in the market for a dedicated server. If your priorities were hourly rates, instant turn-up, image-based provisioning and control via API, cloud servers were probably at the top of your shopping list.

Some competitive advantages of one over the other are fading: SoftLayer has a bare metal product that supports hourly rates for dedicated resources, and we can reliably turn up dedicated servers in under 2 hours. If you select a ready-made box, you might have it up and running in under 30 minutes. Our development team has also built a great API that allows unparalleled control for our dedicated servers.

On the flip-side, our cloud servers are supported just like our dedicated servers: You get the same great network, the ability to connect with other cloud and dedicated instances via private network, and predictable CPU usage with virtual machines pinned to a specific number of CPU cores.

Soon enough, deltas between dedicated performance and cloud functionality will be virtually eliminated and we'll all be able to adopt a unified understanding of what this "cloud" thing is, but until then, we'll do our best to express the competitive advantages of each platform so you can incorporate the right solutions for your needs into your infrastructure.

Engage ...

-Duke

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