Posts Tagged 'Employee'

April 2, 2012

On Cloud Nine: My First Two Months at SoftLayer

I'm on cloud nine at Softlayer. I know "cloud" is probably the most confusing term I can use about how happy I am to be a SLayer because I'm not talking about public cloud, private cloud, or bare metal cloud, but it seemed like the expression that best fit my mood. Beyond the "cloud" products we make available to our customers, there's a less obvious "cloud" at SoftLayer: What I've come to call "The Employee Cloud Nine."

I joined SoftLayer in January of this year, having worked for my previous employer for around ten years. In my 2+ month tenure, the treatment I've received has been astounding, and I don't need to look beyond my workspace to notice some immediate differences. At my previous job, I had three computers running 2007-version software, one Mac-bell scanner and a printer. At SoftLayer, I feel like I'm in a different world: Two widescreen monitors connected to a super-powerful computer running (gasp) current software. It's like I can say "goodbye" to the old days and hello to the twenty-first century!

Beyond the my immediate workplace surroundings, one of the most important distinctions between SoftLayer and every other place I've worked before is how accepting and friendly the team has been. On my first day, my team (and HR) welcomed me with open arms, and I didn't once feel like "the new employee." It reinforced how joining the team mirrors becoming a part of a family, and I think a lot of that culture has to come from the top of the company. It's clear that SoftLayer values us as employees, and because we feel valued, we're excited to come to work. Employees that are excited to come to work are happier, and happy people interact a lot differently than unhappy people that just go to a job because they have to. It also doesn't hurt that SoftLayer literally invests in every employee when it comes to benefits and insurance.

In this economy, it's hard to find companies that are still dedicated to their employees, so it's even crazier to see how SoftLayer takes "dedicated to their employees" to the extreme: Break areas with all your daily needs such as tea, water, juice, snacks and Sonic Ice. On my second day of employment, the company catered a lunch for the office. Recently, there was a tank/helicopter war ... Where else does that kind of thing happen?

I work in the Accounts Payable department. When I started, the team was beginning a pretty massive system conversion. It ended up going live without a hitch (after a few weeks of long hours). Our entire team (led by our fearless manager, Amanda Bell) celebrated the success of the project, and as a little bonus, our VP of accounting, Robert Burns, gave us a big surprise for all of our hard work (and while I know mentioning that begs the question, "What was it?" I was sworn to secrecy). Upon receiving my surprise, I saw a few of the folks from our executive management team in the hallway, and they mentioned that the smile I had on my face was the one they like seeing on every employee's face. :-)

By that point, I knew I wanted to share my initial experience as a SLayer in the form of a blog, but little did I know I'd have one more piece I'd need to include to paint an even fuller picture of my first two months at SoftLayer. I attended a training session where I learned about the company's history, got a better understanding of our products and services, and heard about even more of the benefits I get for being a SoftLayer employee. And I took a data center tour.

As an AP Administrator, I'm not well versed in the technical side of what SoftLayer does, but when I walked through the data center, I immediately recognized many of the products from vendors I pay on a daily basis. It was nice to be able to match up the name of the products I see on an invoice to an actual device to better understand what the checks are paying for ... That context really reinforced to me how I contribute to SoftLayer's growth and success, so it was a fantastic realization.

What I didn't expect from the training session was a chance to participate in the Server Challenge. While I didn't set any records, I was proud of my 2:42 finishing time, and I gained a whole new level of respect for all the effort that goes into racking and maintaining our servers ... And I'm even more impressed with all of the conference attendees that are able to finish the challenge twice as fast as I did.

I'm two months into my tenure at SoftLayer, and I'm still on cloud nine. If my experience is typical (which I'm sure it is), you'll see SoftLayer at the top of every "Best Places to Work" list for years to come!

-Fabrienne

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: 
December 6, 2011

Go, Tell it on the Mountain

Because SoftLayer is now a global hosting company and the holidays are upon us, I thought I'd tweak another Christmas classic with some SoftLayer-specific content ... We're going to need a few more tracks to add to SoftLayer is Coming to Town if we hope to compile an album that'll compete with Justin Bieber.

Go, Tell it on the Mountain

While SLayers kept their watching
O'er customer servers by night,
Another DC opened,
and SoftLayer's now worldwide.

Go, tell it on Facebook
Over on Reddit and everywhere
Go, tell it on LinkedIn
That SoftLayer hosts your site!

Our competitors feared and trembled
When lo! around the earth
Rang out the three bars chorus
That hailed of SoftLayer's worth.

Go, tell it on Facebook
Over on Reddit and everywhere
Go, tell it on LinkedIn
That SoftLayer hosts your site!

From in a lowly basement
Our humble business came;
Innovation and Automation
Would change the hosting game.

Go, tell it on Facebook
Over on Reddit and everywhere
Go, tell it on LinkedIn
That SoftLayer hosts your site!

Before I was a SLayer
I searched both day and night
For a company that was perfect,
And SoftLayer turned out right.

Go, tell it on Facebook
Over on Reddit and everywhere
Go, tell it on LinkedIn
That SoftLayer hosts your site!

I was made a SLayer
A few short years ago,
And since I joined SoftLayer
I've seen us really grow, sooooo...

Go, tell it on Facebook
Over on Reddit and everywhere
Go, tell it on LinkedIn
That SoftLayer hosts your site!

If you sing this carol in front of the house of one of our 26,000+ customers, I can almost guarantee that you'll be invited in for hot chocolate ... Or they'll think you're a crazy stalker because you know about their hosting provider, and they'll call the police.

Either way, thanks for "listening"!

-Natalie

November 23, 2011

SoftLayer: My Kind of Work Atmosphere

When I tell friends and family that I work for a fun and diverse company where I get hands-on experience and am surrounded by knowledgeable and savvy coworkers, some stare at me in disbelief. In most minds, a job normally doesn't have all of those characteristics at the same time.

From 1999–2009, I worked as a senior transactional paralegal (with a specialty in securities and exchange regulations) in the private equity industry. I was doing the right things in life — I had a college degree, a career, and I was a dedicated mother for my son. The problem was that I was working at a company where employees were seen but not heard. It was brutal. My daily work schedule involved me waking up at 5:30 a.m., getting my son ready for school, dressing to meet strict "professional" business attire requirements, and heading off to a stressful office for 9 to 12 hours. After my long day, I had to fight to stay alert through evenings filled with karate, soccer and P.T.A. meetings. Later, my son and I would head home to homework and bedtime stories. Then the cycle repeated itself. My son was the BEST sport ... He understood this "work ethic," and he dealt with the monotonous routine as part of his daily philosophy, too.

When the finance industry went "kaput," and my former company was drastically affected, I vowed to my son (and myself) to never work in a boring, white collar job ever again. That was easier said than done, though. I tried to figure out what I wanted to be when I finally "grew up," and I even thought about going back to teaching ... Which would have been an improvement, but it would have still been regimented. I kept looking.

I hunted for a job in corporate America that didn't emulate the pattern I was escaping: A place with a happy work environment, an opportunity to get work done and come home content, the ability to rely on co-workers as associates rather than adversaries, and the freedom to be a good mom in the process. In my job hunt, I took job in a legal department in the entertainment sector, and I started to see that jobs could be fun. Exciting companies exist, and they had to be looking for dedicated workers, so I wouldn't settle for anything less.

The first day I walked in the building at SoftLayer, it seemed like EVERYONE was smiling from ear-to-ear. I met a great team of educated, experienced professionals from all walks of life, each passionately serving his/her purpose for the company. When I left the office, I felt like I made a difference, and I was energized to show up the next day.

The most interesting thing about working here was the hands-on experience I got in the data center. Living in legal departments for my entire professional career, I was clueless about what happened behind the locked data center doors when new servers were delivered, but that cluelessness didn't last very long. I was given the opportunity to volunteer and get my hands "dirty" with many of my colleagues on a "Truck Day," and I got a first-hand look at what it takes to delivering superior servers to our customers.

As SLayers, we were chosen to be part of an innovative and expanding company that redefines, reinvents and innovates on a daily basis, and as I look back at my old job, I really appreciate the honor. When someone asks me where I work and what the company does, I can't just say "SoftLayer" and "web hosting." I have to explain all about how all of SoftLayer's data centers (domestic and international) provide nonstop service for businesses around the world via the best cloud and dedicated hosting platforms in the industry. And that doesn't even start talking about the people I work with.

Every day, I meet new coworkers from around the world and learn interesting facts about them. I remember chatting with a coworker who said, "I hate going home from this place, because I love coming to work here." That statement is priceless because it embodies the work mentality of everyone who walks through the doors in the morning. To the surprise of friends and family, I've trashed my stuffy business attire for good, and I'm excited to show up at work every day where creativity and knowledge are respected, there is an admiration for individuality, and everyone lives and breathes the a "Challenging But Not Overwhelming" philosophy.

SoftLayer Technologies, Inc.: The best career move I've ever made and finally a workplace I can call "my kind of work atmosphere." That's definitely something to be thankful for this time of year.

And it should go without saying that my son loves his mom's new job, too.

-Chinenye

October 31, 2011

3 Bars | 3 Questions: Amsterdam

Within days of signing on to join the SoftLayer team in Amsterdam, I was on a plane to Dallas. With our facility coming online November 7, the onboarding process had to be accelerated, and the trip to our global headquarters provided an excellent crash course in SoftLayer's strategy and vision for the future. The trip also provided Kevin an opportunity to record a "3 Bars 3 Questions" interview with me after he talked to Michael Ong, the SoftLayer's APAC general manager.

Because I hadn't been a SLayer for too long, he took it easy on me, and we had a great discussion about SoftLayer's strategy in Europe and what customers can expect from our continued global expansion:

In the next week, you'll get a few behind-the-scenes glimpses of our final Amsterdam data center preparations leading up to our November 7 "Go Live" date. If you haven't already seen the "Amsterdam Ready to Launch" blog or the instant-classic "SoftLayer is Coming to Town" video about our international expansion, take a few minutes to check those out.

If you're based in Europe, have a significant customer base in Europe or you've just always wanted a server in Amsterdam, you can pre-order your first AMS01 dedicated server or cloud server right now, and you'll be one of the first in your neighborhood to enjoy our newest facility!

-@jpwisler

October 28, 2011

3 Bars | 3 Questions: Singapore

It's been a few months since the last 3 Bars 3 Questions with "The Mitch," and between then and now, a lot has changed in the SoftLayer world. The biggest difference: Our technicians have traveled around the world to build out data centers in Singapore and Amsterdam. I joined SoftLayer as general manager of the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, and when I took a trip to Dallas to meet the rest of the team, Kevin was able to convince me to answer a few questions on video about what's been going on in Singapore:

Asia is the largest growth market for SoftLayer right now, and the flood of orders we've had to keep up with in our Singapore branch is a testament to the customer demand in that region. With our ambitious growth plans and early successes in SNG, you'll be seeing a lot of SoftLayermobiles delivering servers around the world pretty soon. Maybe we need a SoftLayerOceanTanker?

When I made trip to Dallas, I met Jonathan Wisler, another newly hired SLayer responsible for the Amsterdam data center and our future Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) expansion. Because I didn't want him to feel left out, I selected him as my successor in the next 3 Bars 3 Questions interview.

If you have any questions about SoftLayer in Asia, our Singapore data center or Singapore in general, just let me know.

-Michael

October 23, 2011

The Importance of a First Impression

How many times have you heard that making a good first impression is everything? This is so true in many circumstances – from a blind date to a job interview to meeting the future in-laws. The first few moments are critical. There are a few things that help when making that first contact:

  • Smile
  • Present yourself honestly and openly
  • Be positive, confident and courteous.

I remember when I applied to SoftLayer back in April of 2010. I was working for one of SoftLayer's competitors at the time, and one of my previous coworkers moved over to SoftLayer. He made mention of what a great company SoftLayer was and that I should think about applying. After submitting my resume, I received a call from the data center manager to come in for an interview at the DAL01 location. I prepared myself to make the best first impression I could. I heeded the words of my father saying, "A firm hand-shake goes a long way." After my initial interview, I was given a tour of the one of the server rooms:

Servers
Servers

I was completely blown away by the organization and structure of the server room. I was overly impressed with how organized the work benches were, how the crash carts all had their place, how everything was labeled, how all the cables were bound up neatly, and how the automation system was in place to do the everyday, menial tasks. Here I was trying to impress the DC Manager with my skills and but I can honestly say I was more impressed with SoftLayer. It left a definite first impression on me.

I drove home after the interview thinking I would LOVE to work for this company. When checking my email a short time later, I found an offer letter from the HR department! I started for SoftLayer a few weeks later as a Customer Support Administrator. My next "first impression" of the company came when I walked into the break room and noticed all of the amazing snacks provided to employees. I opened up the refrigerator to place my lunch bag and realized that SoftLayer provides soft drinks and energy drinks to keep their SLayers hydrated. I joked with the DC manager that "SoftLayer should put this information in the job description as a company benefit."

Although making a good first impression is important, making a lasting impression can set you apart from your competition. SoftLayer is a cut above the rest from the other hosting providers out there. Whether you are a new customer or a long-time customer, you have to agree that SoftLayer makes fantastic first and lasting impressions. And just like this blog post, you can't help but tell other people about the SoftLayer difference.

-Greg

October 16, 2011

Advice for the Non-Experienced Tradeshow Traveler

SoftLayer attends 60+ tradeshows a year. That may not sound like much too some people, but when it means you're only home for six days in a given month, it's pretty daunting. Some think that going to a tradeshow is a "free" min-vacation, but in reality it's exhausting work. You'll get lucky at a few shows where the booth time is only 4-6 hours, but most of the time, you're on the hook for 8 or 9 hours. You never know how much you use your leg muscles by just standing until you do it for nine straight hours. After being on your feet for that long, the first thing you want to do when the show closes is go to dinner just so you can sit down. Now think about doing this for three or four days in a row, and it doesn't sound like a vacation anymore.

Before I turn you off tradeshows altogether, I should admit that they are actually quite fun if you're a people person. I love getting to meet new people and show them what SoftLayer has to offer. It's a rewarding experience to see that light in someone's eyes who has never heard of SoftLayer and then finds out how we can make their business better. I can't help but think to myself, "Yeah, we are kind of a big deal." :-)

Given my extensive experience in the conference and tradeshow realm, here are a few key pieces of advice for the non-experienced SoftLayer tradeshow traveler (adjust for your brand as necessary):

Attire

  • Guys should wear black slacks with a polo or button down. For the more casual shows, nice jeans (no rips, tears or holes) and any kind of SoftLayer shirt is fine.
  • Girls should wear black slacks or a black skirt with a polo or button down ... And now you have the option of a SoftLayer dress.
  • It's always a good idea to wear slacks the first day to "test the waters" of the attire for the show. After that, you can plan your next day's attire accordingly.
  • Always wear black shoes. Girls do NOT wear high heels ... You will regret it 30 minutes into the first day. An great alternative for the ladies are black flats, these will look great with pants, a skirt, or a SoftLayer dress.
  • Sometimes it gets extremely cold in the conference hall, so I suggest bringing a jacket – even if it's 110 degrees outside. When wearing a jacket over your attire, make it one of the branded SoftLayer jackets – a SoftLayer logo should be visible at all times so attendees know you're not a random stranger in the SoftLayer booth.

Behavior

  • I know how easy it can be to get carried away when other attendees get a little wild, but that is NO excuse to be late, completely absent or operating at less than 100% when you get to the booth the next day.
  • You should always have a smile on your face when talking with attendees. You're talking about great stuff when you're talking about SoftLayer, so you should be happy to share it with the next potential SoftLayer customer.
  • This should go without saying, but there should be NO cursing, yelling or arguing with anyone at the booth.

Last but not Least
The number ONE rule for the non-experienced traveler: ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS know your stuff before going to a tradeshow. Nothing is more embarrassing for your colleagues (or SoftLayer in general) when you are asked a simple question about what SoftLayer does and you do not know. If you do not know something, ask a colleague or simply look on our website. We have plenty of information there and numerous datasheets that explain in detail the products and services SoftLayer offers.

-Natalie

October 7, 2011

On the Passing of a Giant

In March of 2000, Apple was set to launch the first version of Mac OS X. At the time, I was working for a company called Macromedia (creators of Flash, subsequently purchased by Adobe) on a professional illustration program called FreeHand. Part of the Mac OS X transition was a system that reimplemented the programming interfaces from Mac OS 9 on the operating system kernel of Mac OS X. That system was called Carbon and was key to the strategy that let Mac OS 9 application transition to the Mac OS X platform. We had worked very hard with Apple and FreeHand was one of the first applications to run under the new system. I was invited to demo FreeHand running on Mac OS X at the Mac OS X launch event.

The launch was held on the Apple Campus in the "Town Hall," the same venue that recently hosted the launch of iOS 5 and the iPhone 4s. Members of The Press were across the hallway in an adjacent room while those of us who were going to present were reviewing our parts, being fitted with microphones, and anxiously milling about. At one point an Apple employee stuck her head into the room and announced that Steve Jobs would be arriving in a few minutes. Most people took the announcement in stride and continued about their business.

At some point in this process, two of the representatives from Apple's Developer Relations team that I had been working with seated themselves about halfway up the auditorium; they were innocently waiting for the event to start.

When Steve walked into the room, he did so through a side door that was just to the left of my seat. I was standing in front of the seat, and Steve came to stop right in front of me. The moment he walked into the room, all conversation died out. The entire room held it's breath for a few heart beats while Steve stretched and commented aloud about being "ready to do this thing."

As the conversations around the room came back on-line, Steve turned to me, pointed at the Developer Relations folk halfway up the auditorium and forcefully asked "Who are those people?" Naturally I fumbled to find a reply and was explaining that they worked for Developer Relations. Thankfully the VP of Developer Relations was nearby. He tapped Steve on the shoulder and told him "Those are my people, Steve." I often tell folks at that point that "The Eye of Sauron turned" as Steve went off to review his presentation.

This was my first encounter with Steve Jobs. I've had a couple more over the years, minor interactions that I have no doubt he would never have remembered. Still, I have been working on Apple products since I was very young. Over the years my specialization in the field of Apple development has allowed me to care for myself and my family. Apple's products continue to be an important part of my life.

Shortly the official press event announcing Mac OS X, I was invited to the cafeteria at Apple, Caffe Macs, and heard Steve talk about how Mac OS X was going to change everything. Over 10 years later, and that operating system now powers not only the Macintosh computer, but the host of iOS devices as well. A decade away I'm now working at SoftLayer to bring some of that innovation, and excellence to our mobile products.

I am one of millions whose lives have been touched by Steve Jobs. I know that while he was here he seized life with an intensity that inspires many of us. I hope that where he has gone he will have time to relax, reflect, and rest for a time.

That is, I have no doubt, before he starts "One More Thing..."

Rest in Peace, Steve.

-Scott

Categories: 
February 1, 2011

Even Vampires Need a Healthy Diet

It's often said that people lose their health when they're younger in pursuit of money only to spend that money to restore their health in old age. Regardless of whether you fit into this category or not, it's undeniable that health is more important than anything else. Many of us take our good health for granted, only to be reminded of its importance during winter seasons when overcome with colds and fevers. I must admit myself that during my younger years, I too frequently neglected to ensure better health for myself but as I've gotten older, I've started to change my perspective.

I've reduced my soda consumption and been a bit more careful about what I eat by avoiding overly greasy or fatty foods. However, these have been minor changes, and there is much more I can do I'm sure. After starting my job at SoftLayer, I've started paying more attention attention to health, I work night shift or what I like to call "the shift for vampires." I've become most concerned about my diet because my new schedule has drastically changed the times that I eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. To give you an idea of what my internal clock looks like, my breakfast now takes place around 11pm or midnight, lunch is around 4am in the morning, and dinner is about noon.

Since this schedule is pretty atypical, I browsed the internet for research on how best to handle my diet, and the information I provide may be beneficial to those who read this on their night shifts.

From my research, here are a few potential health problems that "vampires" can face: increased heart disease, ulcers and intestinal problems, social and psychiatric problems, sleep disorders, increased fatigue and increased error / accident rates. All of those are bad.

So what are some suggested methods to reduce these risks? This list is a pretty good start:

  1. Eat at 7 or 8pm instead of midnight if possible
  2. Keep your body hydrated throughout the night
  3. Try to manage your hunger by drinking more fluids instead of eating starchy foods
  4. Drink luke warm water before eating to improve digestion
  5. Control the amount of tea and coffee you consume
  6. Limit the consumption of things like white bread, sugary foods, and fried bread
  7. When coming home, drink hot milk or barley with high fiber biscuits before going to sleep
  8. When waking up, do some body stretches, take a shower and eat a normal meal

I haven't tried all of these suggestions yet, so I can't comment on how effective they are, but as I work on them, I hope to see great results. Fellow vampires, do you have any advice for a newbie to the night shift?

-Danny

Categories: 
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