Posts Tagged 'Environment'

November 27, 2011

Change is Good

We are closing down 2011 and beginning to prepare for a new year that is bound to be full of exciting changes and growth for our company, and in the midst of the calendar change, I'm reminded that my two-year anniversary of becoming a SLayer will be here soon too. Has time flown?! So many things have changed in the past two years, so I thought it would be fun to think about some things that have changed since my first day on the job.

To give you an idea of how things have changed in our office alone:

  • Our last office had two kitchens and two microwaves. At our Alpha headquarters, we have six kitchens with twelve microwaves. It's so nice that I don't have to wait in line to heat up my lunches anymore.
  • In the Alpha office's main kitchen, we have a Sonic ice machine ... if you aren't from the southern part of the US, you might not know why this is so cool, but if you've had a Cherry Limeade delivered to your car, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
  • Previously, we had to share a bathroom with a few other companies. Now we're the only company in our building, and there are three sets bathrooms just for us.
  • When I started we had four conference rooms. Now we have sixteen ... Not even counting the conference rooms in our other locations!

Speaking of "other locations," it'd probably be worthwhile to talk about about a few of bigger changes that happened outside of the walls of the Dallas office.

  • When I started, SoftLayer was run by around 160 SLayers. Now we're over 650!
  • In January 2010, we were on one continent. Now we've added Asia and Europe presences to our foundation in North America.
  • Those international presences have helped us expand our data center footprint. We had three data centers (Dallas, Seattle and Washington, D.C.) when I started. Now we have thirteen data centers around the world, and in addition to those three markets, we now have SLayers in Houston, San Jose, Singapore and Amsterdam!
  • On my first day, our marketing team consisted of three people. Now we have more than fifteen people ... and looking to hire more.
  • Two years ago, we had around 6,000 customers. Today we have more than 25,000 customers located in over 110 countries!

I've been through a headquarter move, a merger, a huge network expansion and multiple product additions, but one thing that remains the same is our dedication to providing our customers with the best on-demand hosting solution in the world... and of course having fun while we are at it!

-Summer

Categories: 
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

November 17, 2011

#Winning - Celebrating SoftLayer's Awards

To quote Marva Collins, "Success doesn't come to you, you go to it." Since 2005, SoftLayer has consistently grown from $0 annual revenue to $350 million annual revenue, and that success hasn't gone unnoticed. This year, we've been honored to win several awards based on our revenue growth percentage, how great the company is to work for, and the success of our cloud offerings, so I thought I'd share a few of those recognitions with our customers – who have fueled our success.

Trophy Case

Company Growth
Let's start with the awards that recognize SoftLayer for its tremendous financial success in the midst of a tough economic environment. This year, SoftLayer was recognized as one of the fastest growing companies as members of Tech Titan Fast Tech, Inc. 500/5000, Dallas 100, and Deloitte Technology 500.

Tech Titan Fast Tech recognizes the fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and clean technology companies in Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Fast Tech recipients are determined based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth from 2008 to 2010. SoftLayer holds the #2 rank with a revenue growth percentage of 305%, calculated using the following formula [(FY'2010 Revenue- FY'2008)/ FY'2008 revenue] X 100%. SoftLayer won this award in 2008 and 2009 as well ... And based on the way 2011 is looking, we'll get another one next year.

Inc. 500/5000 ranks privately held, for-profit companies based on their revenue growth for the past 3 years. In 2010, SoftLayer ranked #155, and this year, we were #277 with a three-year revenue growth of 1,178%. The Inc 500/5000 list is also broken into industry categories and regions: SoftLayer ranked #21 in the IT Services category and #5 in Dallas.

Deloitte Technology Fast 500 lists North American companies each year based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth over a five-year period. This is the first year for SoftLayer to be on the list, and we couldn't be more excited about it. We're proud to hold #32 in this year's rankings, and we have our sights set on climbing higher.

Dallas 100 winners are selected by the SMU Cox School of Business to recognize privately held companies that headquartered in Dallas Metroplex. Similar to the Inc. 500/5000, the rankings are based on revenue growth over the past three years. In 2010, we ranked #5, and this year, we moved up all the way to #1! (Where we're supposed to be.)

Dallas 100

SoftLayer Culture
The financial success of the company is only one metric of our overall success as a business. We wouldn't be able to reach those amazing numbers without a great team, so when we get recognized for how amazing SoftLayer is to work for, I know we're doing things right. SoftLayer has been recognized twice this year for being one of the Best Places to Work. Not only are we part of the Dallas Morning News "Top 100 Places to Work in DFW," but we are among the "Best Places to Work in Texas." That's the kind of environment we wanted when we started the company a few short years ago. We hold the #10 spot for Mid-Size Companies on the DMN Top 100 Places to Work in DFW, and the "Best Places to Work in Texas" list will be released in February 2012.

Product Recognition
Oh, and as it turns out, amazing employees in a fantastic environment also create some of the most innovative products, so it should come as no surprise that SoftLayer was recognized earlier this year for our cloud offering: We are among the Top 100 Cloud Providers chosen by Alsbridge.

And when it comes to our dedicated hosting platform, you don't have to look very far to see that SoftLayer is "The Best Web Hosting Company" in the industry. If you agree, you can show a little love for us by nominating and voting for us in HostReview's 6th Annual Reader's Choice Awards.

While we want to celebrate our achievements, we also want to use them as fuel to continue the Challenging But Not Overwhelming (CBNO) work that got us to this point. We want to take the #1 spot on all of these lists in the near future, so keep an eye out ... And we'll start looking for a bigger trophy case.

Taking over the world one data center at a time!

-@lavosby

November 14, 2011

My Road to LPIC-1 Certification

I've been a Linux user for many years, but for various reasons I never bothered to get a certification even though it's a fantastic validation of Linux skills. When I moved up in the world by joining SoftLayer, my attitude quickly changed.

As a new Systems Administrator at SoftLayer, one of the first challenges I was presented with was to try for my LPIC-1 certification. True to SoftLayer's motto of "Challenging, but not Overwhelming," I was given 3 months, a practice environment and reimbursement for my fees if I passed the tests. With an offer like that, it was impossible to refuse.

The LPIC-1 tests are not easy, and it took a lot of work to pass them, but if you're interested all you need to succeed is a solid background in Linux and the time to dedicate to preparation. Here are some of the things I learned along the way:

  1. Don't attempt the LPIC-1 exam unless you have at least a couple of years' worth of hands-on Linux experience. Seriously, it's not for newbies.
  2. Acquire at least two test-prep books, and read one of them every day. I used O'Reilly's LPIC-1 Certification in a Nutshell and LPIC-1 In Depth by Michael Jang. Both are easy to read, have good explanations of concepts you need to understand, and provide valuable tips in addition to practice exams.
  3. Set up a practice environment. It's essential for reviewing commands you may not be familiar with.
  4. When you think you are ready for the first exam, take a few free practice tests online. There are a number of them available.
  5. I didn't buy any test-prep software, but I did download a couple of trial versions as they offered some free practice questions.
  6. Take all of the practice exams available to you several times each. You'll get more comfortable with the format of the test questions and will also learn which areas you need to revisit before the actual test.

After earning the LPIC-1 certification I received a nice surprise in my mailbox along with my certificate. Apparently Novell and the Linux Professional Institute have a partnership: By earning the LPIC-1 I had also satisfied the requirements for Novell's Certified Linux Administrator (CLA) certification, so now I can enjoy the benefits of having two IT certifications for the price of one and I have SoftLayer to thank for it!

-Todd

October 29, 2011

Coworkers and Divisional Rivals: Football at SoftLayer

Cheering for the hometown team has always been interesting at SoftLayer. With U.S. data centers in Dallas, Houston, Washington DC, Seattle and San Jose, the "home team" varies throughout the organization. It's always fun to talk about games with fans when I'm not invested in the outcome of a game outside my favorite team's division ... And when it comes to the NBA (which no longer has a team in Seattle), it's easy to cheer for the teams that other SLayers are cheering for. When the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Championships, our Dallas techs were going crazy, and their enthusiasm was pretty contagious.

When it comes to NFL football, things are a little different. Prior to the launch of our San Jose facility, supporting each data center's home NFL team with some playful banter was normal. When San Jose came into the mix, that meant we'd have a lot of new employees (Yay!) who are probably going to be fans of my Seahawks' divisional rivals, the San Francisco 49ers (Booo! :-)). Now cheering for games gets a little trickier since we don't want a football-related civil war between offices.

In reality, I'm sure it'll never be an issue, since SLayers are like a big, diverse family ... That being said, I'm glad I wasn't in the office on the Monday after the Seahawks' opening game loss against the 49ers. My California peers would have probably been quick to chat about the game, and I probably wouldn't have wanted to talk about it. It's different for me to have coworkers who are die-hard fans of a rival team due to their geography (and not just because they are a bandwagon fan), and as we keep growing, I'm sure the football support between offices is going to keep getting more and more diverse ... My vote is that we avoid adding a data center in another NFC West rival's market, though.

The interoffice atmosphere is just another reason why I love working for SoftLayer. Our team is so different, but we're united by the common goal of making SoftLayer the best company in the world (for our customers and for our employees). For right now, I'm glad that there aren't as many soccer fans in our halls ... You don't want to see me in my soccer hooligan mode.

-Robert

October 21, 2011

Why Don't You Work Here Yet?

I started my career with SoftLayer in March 2011 as a Server Build Technician, and after a few short months, I can safely say that coming here was one of the best moves I have ever made in my life. I have worked in a number of different jobs ranging from retail to shipping, but in my heart, I always knew I wanted a career in computer technology. SoftLayer made that dream come true.

When I started, I felt a bit overwhelmed with the amount of information I had to learn all at once. That feeling quickly subsided during the first week as I realized how the work environment and culture is built on employees who take great pride both what they do and the knowledge they are able to pass on to newcomers. I knew I was in good hands. I felt like I was a part of an elite group of intelligent, inspiring, funny, energetic and down to earth people.

Through the interactions I've had with my direct coworkers, my knowledge has grown tremendously, and I feel more confident in meeting and exceeding the expectations and responsibilities in front of me. The original SoftLayer culture is alive and well thanks to the efforts and example of the management team, and it doesn't take long to notice that this company has a passion for customer service, and we strive to be the very best we can be. Because of the encouragement and optimism I have been given, I see a bright future for me here.

As our operations expand, I can't help but get excited for the success in store for the business, our team and our customers. We're ready to embrace new challenges, and though the tasks seem daunting, I know our team can handle them easily. I take great pride in my work, and I'm quick to tell the SoftLayer story to anyone who will listen. The company motto is, "Innovate or Die," and every employee – from Dallas to Amsterdam to San Jose to Singapore – lives and breathes that motto daily. We're pushing the limits of what a "hosting company" can do, and we're having a lot of fun doing it.

I feel honored to say that I am a part of the SoftLayer family, and if you're in the market for a new job for an awesome employer, you should head to SoftLayer Careers to find which of the 50+ positions you'd fit so you can join us in Dallas, Houston, San Jose, Seattle, Singapore, Amsterdam or Washington, D.C.

We are SoftLayer!

-Anthony

June 2, 2011

3 Bars | 3 Questions: SoftLayer Culture

In the first 7 episodes of the 3 Bars | 3 Questions series, you've had the chance to meet some interesting people who work for SoftLayer. In the last installment, Paul Ford chose "The Mitch" as the next participant, and that's a bit of a curve ball. "The Mitch" isn't exactly a SoftLayer employee, but he is a character born out of the Softlayer culture, so he qualifies for an interview:

Given our company culture and the time our team spends together in the office, these kinds of jokes are pretty common, and works is a lot more fun as a result. If you want to join the "tens" of fans referenced in the video, find "The Mitch" on Facebook and "Like" accordingly.

If you want to get your very own (extremely rare and valuable) personalized copy of "The Mitch," mail your head shot to "The Mitch" c/o SoftLayer Technologies, 4849 Alpha Road, Dallas, TX 75244. And yes, employees who haven't been lucky enough to receive a print are eligible to participate as well.

-@toddmitchell

EDIT: "The Mitch" is in high demand at the cPanel office: http://sftlyr.com/a9. They might need a limited-edition cPanel-specific run.

May 16, 2011

A Well-Deserved Retirement

On a normal day at home, the hum inside a personal computer would seem very inaudible. In contrast, if you find yourself inside a data center, you're constantly surrounded by the inescapable whir of workhorse machines. This whir is the sound of thousands and thousands of fans pushing cold air and keeping everything in top working order.

Netwon's Third Law of Motion states that "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction," and the most common "reaction" to buzzing of these fans would normally be a gradual slip into madness after exposing human ears to the sound for an extended period of time. That same constant sound of enterprise cooling wreaks havoc on the ears of anyone working nearby due to its specific frequencies. As a result, ear protection is a must for any Server Build Technician.

Recently, a comrade with a special knack for ear protection reached a long overdue retirement from service.

My now-retired friend actually only began work in the SoftLayer Washington, D.C., data center two years ago, and this worker's career was a shining tribute to workplace professionalism. Always silent and steadfast ... You would rarely spend time at work without seeing him. Coworkers would often comment, "Does he ever sleep?" and, "Wow! You're still here?" Despite all these implicit praises, this friend always remained humble and accepting, even during the rough times. I can't remember how many times we may have thrown this poor coworker across the room or the amount of feet that he was dropped from (on a pretty large number of occasions). When abused, he just wrapped himself in duct tape or mended his broken body parts with zip-ties. This may seem an unusual fix for most things, but he never demanded more than that.

Anyone from the WDC location reading this article already knows the comrade I'm speaking of, but the rest of you might be a little lost (and shocked) as I mention the injuries that he suffered and possibly even very upset at how the treatment was handled afterwards. Luckily, the worker I have been describing to you is in fact not a person but an invaluable electronic device that has served me and essentially SoftLayer well through the years: To help combat the noise in our server rooms, I have always relied on this pair of headphones made by Koss to fill my ears with sweet music.

Any of our WDC staff will agree that I am rarely ever seen riding into battle (walking into our server room) without my partner at my side. As they say, you never fully appreciate the value of something until it is gone, so I was clearly reminded of this one day when I happened to misplace my headphones. I was overwhelmed with grief as I searched high and low until I found him dangling in one of our storage rooms and yelled out "TONTO!!" From personal experience, I can see clearly that the devices one picks for use are very important ... Which might explain the careful process SoftLayer undergoes to ensure our customers are provided with the very best equipment.

-Jonathan

Categories: 
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

September 21, 2010

A Transition from Humdrum to Dynamic

Having said greetings to exactly five people just like every other morning before this one, the employee made the final turn in the maze of cubicles to arrive at the mountain of papers and folders in his personal work area. Sitting down, he checked the agenda for that day, though that was unnecessary for he knew all too well what to expect. The agenda basically read:

  1. Extract data from a particular account
  2. Manipulate data to arrive at a comprehensible format
  3. Organize data into charts and graphs
  4. Perform variance analysis
  5. Document findings and submit for review
  6. Repeat steps 1 through 5

The above scenario, although quite simplified, is a high level summary of my career for the past 10 years before working as a Server Build Engineer at SoftLayer. With this mindset that my daily work in the field of Finance and Accounting could be simply listed as a series of routine steps, I made the difficult decision to set out for a major career change. Due to previous yet limited professional experience with programming and pc troubleshooting, I was not unfamiliar with the field of Information Technology I had in mind. As a hobby, I also enjoyed tinkering with computers so this choice was a no brainer for me. For web hosting, those who are serious about a website would need to make a jump from having a static ip address to one that is dynamic but for my life, I was looking to go in the opposite direction from static to dynamic. Through a friend who at the time worked at SoftLayer and often spoke highly of it, I was informed of a great opportunity to re-enter the IT field.

It is now 6 months since the first day I started at SoftLayer and I must say there is no looking back but only forward. The number of people I greet at the start of each work shift is still a set number, but other than that, so much has changed in a positive way. I am no longer bound to redundant procedures on a daily basis since I typically cannot predict ahead of time what challenges face me that day at work, since our customers’ needs will vary on a day-to-day basis. It is this variety in tasks that make me realize I have found what I was looking for and in the past, I have always worked behind the scenes and never clearly seen the fruits of my labor. Deadlines for reports and what not would be met, but no clear realization of what impact I could make on others. On the contrary, at SoftLayer, we are able to deal with customers directly and through that there is satisfaction in knowing that my efforts help make a real person happy, which can be crucial since there are times that a business’s success will depend on how we handle requests. All in all, I am very thrilled with this recent major decision I have made and here’s hoping to a bright future with SoftLayer!

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