Posts Tagged 'Engineers'

May 25, 2012

Tear Down the (Immigration) Wall ... Or at Least Install a Door

A few years ago, I went through a nightmare trying to get to permanent resident status in the United States. My file sat in a box for over a year, was lost, re-submitted and FINALLY rushed through by Ted Kennedy's office. And I was on a "fast track" due to a long record of published research and employment history. I had the means to pay lawyers and the time to repeat the filing and wait for a decision. If I didn't have the means or the time to wait for the process to complete, I don't know where I'd be, but in all likelihood, it wouldn't be here. It's no surprise that immigration reform is high on my list of priorities, and given SoftLayer's involvement in the USCIS Entrepreneurs in Residence program along with Lance's appointment to a Bloomberg committee focused on immigration reform, it's clear I'm not alone.

The bi-partisan Partnership for a New American Economy recently published a very interesting report — Not Coming to America: Why the US is Falling Behind in the Global Race for Talent — that speaks to a lot of the challenges plaguing the current US immigration policy. Because of those challenges, "the future of America's position as the global magnet for the world's most talented and hardest-working is in jeopardy." Here are a few of the projected economic realities of not reforming immigration laws to keep up with other countries:

SHORTAGE OF WORKERS IN INNOVATION INDUSTRIES: Jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math ("STEM" fields) are increasing three times faster than jobs in the rest of the economy, but American students are not entering these innovative fields in sufficient numbers. As a result, by 2018, we face a projected shortfall of 230,000 qualified advanced-degree STEM workers.

SHORTAGE OF YOUNG WORKERS: The US population is aging, baby boomers are retiring en masse, and the growth in the US labor force has slowed to historic lows of less than 1 percent. We cannot continue to produce the GDP growth the nation has come to expect without dramatic increases in productivity or welcoming more working age immigrants.

A STALLED ECONOMY: The US has faced years of stunted economic growth. History shows that new businesses are the biggest drivers of job creation, yet the most recent US Census data show that the number of business startups has hit a record low.

This concern isn't unique to the United States. With a global focus on innovation and technology, countries around the world are actively competing for the best and the brightest. In Canada, a report a few weeks ago spoke to Canada's need to double in size in the next few decades or risk losing relevance and becoming just another resource-rich colony. The nation's response? It's ready to open its doors to more immigrants.

The same applies to the United States ... It just may take longer.

Go back to how this country was built, and apply that to today. The biggest difference: The "skilled trades" we talk about in the most general sense are no longer carpenters like my grandfather but highly educated programmers, engineers and researchers. The idea isn't to replace the programmers, engineers and researchers in the US, rather it's to meet the existing unmet needs for programmers, engineers and researchers.

In all of SoftLayer's efforts to affect change in the US immigration policy, we have to make clear that our goal is not to drop the walls simply to add more permanent residents. It's about lowering many of the current artificial barriers that might prevent the next Fortune 500 founder from starting his or her business in the United States. If you don't think that's a serious concern, I'd point to a pretty surprising stat in the "Not Coming to America" report: "Today, more than 40 percent of America's Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or a child of an immigrant."

Immigration drives the economy. It's not a drain on the economy. Every country needs more smart people because smart people create new ideas, new ideas become new businesses, and new businesses create new jobs.

Because this is a politically charged issue, it's one I know many people don't necessarily agree with. Along with immigration, we have to look at how the education system can empower young people like my son to become the programmers, engineers and researchers that the US will need, and we have to be intentional about not simply adding permanent residents for the sake of adding permanent residents. If you have any thoughts one way or the other, I'd encourage you to share them with us here in a blog comment or link us to any of the resources you've found interesting in researching and discussing the topic.

-@gkdog

May 28, 2009

Hardware Heros

The techs that build the servers here at SoftLayer are known as Server Build Engineers or SBE’s. These guys are on the front line of Operations. They are responsible for building out customer server orders, maintenances, fixing cranky provisions, and many other hardware related tasks.

One might think that a hardware tech is a simple job. Well, not the SBE position at SoftLayer. Not only are they responsible for time sensitive hardware builds and provision troubleshooting, but they work directly with all the other departments. We don’t have bazillion hardware techs like other companies might. We train ours up to be one man hardware machines.

Sometimes a provision might have a weird error that needs to be escalated to development. The SBE will work directly with the dev team to resolve the issue.

Sales might have questions about some hardware they are trying to sell. SBE’s answer the call.

SBE’s even jump in to help CSA’s (Customer Service Administrators) when the ticket load or phones get hectic.

SBE’s do numerous projects, too. From helping with large scale hardware compatibility testing to troubleshooting hardware, they are the jack of all trades at SoftLayer.

We have a pseudo paramilitary way of doing things in the hardware department. It’s all in fun, but we get down and dirty and have a “can do” and “yes sir” attitude. We pride ourselves in being able to tackle any problem. If we are asked to do it, we do it, regardless of whether or not it’s our job, we are too busy, or whatever the obstacle.

Be all you can be? Join the army. Be more than you expect you can be? Join the SoftLayer Hardware Team.

The few, the badass, the SBE’s!

May 15, 2008

Dreams

Everyone has dreams. Dreams may include having enough money that one never needs to think about money again. Dreams might include working from home. Actually, forget about working from home, how about working from the beach? I dream of providing technical support from my laptop at the beach while sipping pina coladas (virgin, of course, Mr. Crosby…I would never have alcohol on duty):

Photo

I spoke to a customer of SoftLayer via his cell phone while he was on a ski boat in the middle of a lake somewhere. This customer received an email regarding a monitoring alert for one of his servers via his cell phone. He called me, the issue was resolved in 5 minutes, and he went back to skiing. That’s right…all work being done remotely from your favorite locale. That is a great dream. Our hardware manager, Brad, would definitely be on the ski slopes in less than a minute if he were told he could manage from that location via laptop. I can just see him snowboarding down the mountain and typing away to his Server Build Engineers about the latest and greatest hardware we are about to roll out. I’m pretty sure Lance is setting us up for this according to his blog entitled, “Your Datacenter is Obsolete

Wait…maybe he is saying that CSA’s will be obsolete as well…uh…nah…he wouldn’t do that to us, right…right?

I speak to customers daily that are working from their homes and living their dreams. A few weeks ago, I spoke to a customer somewhere in a remote location in Canada. He is running a very lucrative business from a cabin. His location is so remote and desolate that truck drivers must be enticed by a yearly salary of over $120,000 to come up there and work. No one would do it for less money than that. I have always lived and worked in big cities like Dallas, Texas, and I cannot imagine living in such a place. This customer is often trapped by snow in the winter and cannot leave his cabin until it melts to the point that he can get out. And yet, he runs a business using SoftLayer servers making more than the truck drivers (how much? I don’t know) from this desolate place (Why? I don’t know…he must like it). What a great business opportunity for someone who chooses to live away from civilization. People only dreamed of such opportunities not so long ago. The days of having to move away from family, friends, and your home in order to find work are long gone. An internet connection and a few SoftLayer servers ; ) are all one needs to make A LOT of money.

I was speaking to another customer yesterday, who was very excited about his business and how Softlayer was helping him to achieve his dreams. While I quietly worked on his issue, he spoke at length about how he first came to hear about Softlayer, the depth to which his vision for his business has grown while partnering with SoftLayer, and his amazing plans for the future of his business. I was truly inspired by his passion for his business and his particular vision for his company. He shared some of the challenges that he has faced and how he overcame them. He readily admitted to some mistakes he has made in business and what he learned from those mistakes. He said that he would not deviate from his goals and that partnering with SoftLayer was integral to achieving those goals. He also said that SoftLayer had helped him greatly in overcoming some of those challenges that he had faced in the past with other datacenters. I must say that it gives me a real sense of pride when a customer tells me that they have partnered with other datacenters in the past, and that their experience with SoftLayer has been second to none. He was also up north somewhere. I don’t know where he was located exactly, but I know he was working from home because I kept hearing a young child playing in the background. This is one thing that so great about the opportunities in this industry. Work from where ever you like and SoftLayer, in particular, makes this easier than ever before.

“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without first dreaming of that accomplishment.” - based on a quote by Hebbel

-David

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