Posts Tagged 'Facebook'

November 2, 2010

Don Draper Had it Easy

I was speaking with Softlayer’s PR guy the other day. The topic of conversation was the television show ‘Mad Men’. When I returned to my desk, I couldn’t help thinking that Don Draper had it easy. The advertising and communications game has changed radically since his fictionalized time.

When Don Draper was thinking about making his clients happy in 1964, print, radio, television and billboards comprised the palate that he had to play with. The Internet has changed this in ways Don would struggle to comprehend were he to time travel to 2010. This new palate is virtually endless, essentially combining everything that Don was familiar with, putting it in one place (sort of), and then putting it on steroids.

While Don would have a hard time understanding the internet, he would appreciate the power that it brings, and not only in terms of how he can get his message across. The ability to track who goes where and what they do when they get there has enabled market segmentation far beyond what Don would have ever considered. And because the internet has a little something for everyone, companies are able to market with a greater degree of accuracy.

In theory, we ought to be able to spend less money to reach OUR audience, versus spending more money to hit a broader audience only some of whom are interested in what we do. Theory also dictates that companies ought to be able to measure a real return on this investment. Don would be amazed as this was mostly unheard of in his world - the desire was there, but no one really knew which parts of the budget were delivering results. As the old saying goes “I know that half of what I spend is wasted. I just don’t know which half.”

The advent of ‘social networking’ sites like Facebook or Twitter has made matters more challenging as they change the relationship a company has with its target audience.

First, a company first needs to be attractive enough to merit being followed or ‘friended’. This theoretically means that a captive, receptive audience has self-selected for you. The challenge is in understanding why people show up in the first place.

A Facebook page provides the audience with a profile – this gives the audience context and a reason for adding you as a friend. Twitter is not like this in that in depth profiles do not exist in the same way. On Twitter, the ‘who you are’ element plays itself out over a series of 140 character Tweets. The odd part is that people often ‘follow’ based on a single Tweet, which may or may not be related to what you do. The audience is there, but the intention is often less clear.

While I understand why I follow the people I follow, I confess that there are Tweets that I get from people that I follow for reasons I have long since forgotten. It gets tough to filter things when you are following only 186 people like me, never mind the thousands that some people do. For example, journalist Leo Laporte follows 1,427 people, while English actor / author Stephen Fry follows an astonishing 53,230 people. When you are following that many people, there is not going to be a lot of consistency regarding a decision made to follow. Indeed, the inflow of Tweets is so prodigious that filtering the noise must be next to impossible.

Does that mean that Twitter does not have value as a marketing tool? Don would probably think so, but I don’t. I think that Twitter becomes a valuable tool, but not as a standalone means to reach your customer. If you start to think about Twitter (in combination with a bunch of other stuff) as a means to build community, then I think you are on the right track… I will get to that line of thought later.

-@quigleymar

October 4, 2010

SoftLayer Fire Hose

Hi. My name is Mark Quigley, and I am a new Softlayer employee. In specific, I will be running the company’s analyst relations program. This is my first week with the company, and the fire hose has not yet been turned off. In fact, I think that this has been among the most intense weeks of my working life.

Softlayer moves at a pace that I am not overly familiar with given time I have spent with some very large (and inevitably slow moving) companies. It has been a pleasure to find myself in a group of 'quick-thinking doers' versus 'thinkers that spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing.' I have seen fewer PowerPoint decks and Excel spreadsheets this week than I thought was possible. It makes for a pleasant change, and change is a good thing (My wardrobe has also undergone a SoftLayer transformation. It now features black shirts and some more black shirts).

The week began with the announcement that SoftLayer had launched its second Dallas data center. The data center (DAL05) has capacity for 15,000 servers, delivers 24x7 onsite support, and has multiple security protocols controlling entrance to the facility. The diesel generators that sit outside are massive – think of a locomotive on steroids. DAL05 is fully connected to SoftLayer's data centers at the INFOMART in Dallas, in Seattle, Washington, and in the Washington D.C. area in addition to the company’s network Points of Presence in seven additional U.S. cities.

The reason for the expansion is simple – Softlayer continues to grow. In fact, our new office location would appear to be mostly a home for large generators and server racks in the future than it is for people (there are more of those to come, too). Current plans call for the addition of two more pods to DAL05 to come alive over the next 18 - 24 months. In addition a facility in San Jose is expected to go live early in 2011 and we are in the midst of international expansion plans. There is a lot going on around here.

I think it is interesting to step back for a second and take a look at what is driving this growth. The fact that SoftLayer is ruthlessly efficient, allowing customers to get from 0 to 60 faster than anyone else is certainly one reason. So are the fantastic support processes that are in place. The guys around here are very good at what they do. That being said this is a time when a rising tide is raising all ships. And this is a good thing. I mean, we want to beat our competition with every time we see them across the table, but we are glad that there are enjoying their share of success because it means the marketplace is booming. Even better, it is showing no sign of letting up.

The changes that we have witnessed in the past fifteen years are nothing short of staggering. I remember sending faxes to clients as the primary means of document exchange and then being thrilled at the notion of a single AOL account via dial up being shared by five people in the office. Now I have access to the internet via at least two devices in the office and one when I am not. At home I surf the net and watch content streamed via NetFlix over my iPad. My son plays the PS3 online with his pals, my daughter spends time watching Dora the Explorer on the Nick Jr. website and my wife has reopened countless friendships with high school friends that she has not seen in decades via Facebook. I don't think that I am unusual in my habits either. None of this happened ten years ago.

The most recent wave has come with the arrival of social networking sites (which had a much different definition when I was young!) and associated applications. Companies like Twitter and Facebook has driven a terrific amount of innovation, and continues to do so. So too have companies like Apple – music downloads and application downloads are now in the billions. The net result of this has been in a terrific amount of business for companies like SoftLayer. I mean, who ever thought that on-line farming would drive as much interest, traffic and money as it has? And the really cool part of all of this is that the world my kids will occupy in ten years is going to be richer than mine by at least an order of magnitude. SoftLayer will be there to make it all work. It is going to be a fun ride.

-@quigleymar

July 20, 2010

Back in ancient times, and an eye on the future

I recently returned from vacation (go ahead and let out your jealous, exasperated sighs). During our vacation one of our stops was the ancient mayan temples at Chichen Itza. For those who ever get a chance, it’s a must see. The landscape is emerald green, the temples are awe inspiring, and the weather is beautiful. For those who aren’t quite sure about what I’m talking about, here’s a nice image to refer to:

While the temples are cool, even more amazing are the little details the Ancient Mayans put into this that really set it off. Things like the serpent visible only on the spring equinox, the echo when you clap (which sounds like a bird – no kidding!), amongst others.

What’s really interesting here is the story of human engineering, and to see how far it’s come since those ancient times, and even though Its mind-boggling to see how far we’ve come, it’s quite intriguing to see what they did with their own type of technology.

While they used to clap at the temple, we now send facebook or twitter posts. They passed their stories and music verbally over centuries, and we share MP3s and other media across the globe at the speed of light. While SoftLayer sits at the edge of technology with our state of the art datacenters, hardware, and networking topology, it’s pretty hard to compare to the tools used by, and the creations made by the people of this era. Luckily our tour guide re-assured us that we’ll be fine in 2012, despite what the movies say, so we’ll have plenty of time to see some more amazing advances in technology. Who knows that our future generations will say about our ‘rudimentary’ communications and technology some 2500 years from now.

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June 17, 2010

Mixi is next!

I am sure anyone reading this has heard of Facebook, but do you know about Mixi?

Mixi is the number one social networking site in Japan and technically predates the “full internet” version of Facebook. It shares many features with Facebook, but its social model is a little different. Mixi is by invitation only, and its users almost never use their real name. Instead, users adopt nicknames and use icons or photos of almost anything to represent themselves. Also, Mixi is also only available in Japanese for the moment.

One thing that was noticeably missing from Mixi until recently has been third party social apps. With third party apps, Mixi users can now enjoy social games similar to the ones found on Facebook, which have been around since 2007.

And when it comes to game hosting, SoftLayer is a leader. We have recently won the FindMyHost.com Editors’ Choice Award for Game Servers for May 2010.

SoftLayer is dedicated to supporting the game industry’s IT needs. We regularly attend game related conferences. We were recently at f8 2010 and GDC Canada. You can also find us at GDC Europe and then GDC Online in Austin later this year. You can see our conference schedule on our events page.

As a gamer myself, I feel proud to work for a company with such a presence in the video game industry and community. And as Mixi gains more and more attention, I will be glad when I can say, “You heard about it here first!”.

April 22, 2010

32K

I know this is old news, but this GoGo inflight wireless is pretty cool. I am 32,000 feet up right now and connected to all my fun, social media toys. I have been tweeting, facebooking, and now I decided to hammer out a blog about it. The really cool thing to me is that I am RDP’d to my desktop at the office and am able to do my email in my native client and have access to all of my different instant messaging networks. I am even going to message our web guys and see if we can have this blog published before I land. I have my power adapter, my seat has a power port and they are serving me a diet coke right now. Man, if I could get this kind of service at the office I might stop traveling because this is the life. No walk up chatting to interrupt my hard working ways, no blenders to tempt me to waste time and blend something, and also no temptation to leave for lunch and go to Rafain’s to eat 6000 calories of fantastic, spicy beef. The snacks on the plane are a bit expensive, so I might even lose a few pounds.

I am in flight back from Cloud Expo in New York and it was amazing how many more people understand the cloud this year than last year. All in all it was a good show. We met a few more of our customers, and once again, we had many compliments. We really like to hear them, so if we end up at a show close to you, please come see us. We will even let you complain if you need to, but we are confident you won’t have to. You can always walk away with a little piece of SoftLayer swag, ranging from a shirt or a cup, to a Frisbee or maybe even a little free computing power.

The next show on my agenda is GDC in Vancouver and then Citrix Synergy in San Francisco. Come by and see me in person! I don’t bite, but I do growl a little. Look out for the upcoming tweets with booth numbers and show times, and as always we might have something special to hand you.

While you are at it - come check us out on Facebook, flickr, twitter and the rest!

January 8, 2010

Social Reality? Really?

As I sat in front of my computer Sunday evening, after the Cowboys flat out destroyed the Eagles in reality, just about to go play a few of my favorite Facebook games, I noticed a link to an article that I knew I had to read. I will give the writer his due at the end of the blog so you can read it for yourself and form your own opinion; but, I must say it was quite humorous.

Its title alone can be answered in one word I believe, and; the tag line under the picture in the article is simply amazing.

The title is “What does Farmville Mean for Farmers?” Wait for it… Wait for my one word answer… Nothing! The lone picture in the article is of some crop squares looking freshly plowed with no crops growing and a small avatar frowning instead of smiling with a single tear rolling down his cheek. The line under the picture states, “Stop caring about your virtual farm and start caring about real ones.” To quote the younger generation all I have to say is, “Really? Really?”

At first, I am thinking that farmers worldwide are neglecting their crops and prices are going up on wheat, corn, fruit, etc. I decided to read further. “The Sun Always Shines. Pink cows produce strawberry milk. Soybeans take two days to grow and ripen. Something is not right. It’s too clean. Nothing smells. Coffee beans grows next to squash.” Ok. At this point, I am having a hard time trying to correlate this to “actual” farming. By the way, it hasn’t gotten any clearer.

The author then goes on to discuss how virtual farming can be relaxing and give you a virtual country calm . It can transport you “somewhere else for a minute or an hour.” I can’t decide if the author thinks this is a good thing or not. I personally do. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit and click and not think about everything else going on in the world. Carpel tunnel or no carpel tunnel, it is just harmless mindless, clicking; oh and, you might make a new friend in a new state at the same time. I have a few myself. I have never met them in person, but they are nice folks and we have fun playing the games.

Then it takes a turn for the worse; the author suddenly switches from a social game to reality. He describes the trials of a person and her homesteading experience. After trying to live off the land, her marriage crumbed and she was forced to move back to the city. I am not making lite of the hardship of farmers with this blog—as I know this is a very hard lifestyle. In my neck of the woods, I see rows of corn never produce because of a lack of rain and end up baled for hay. I see winter wheat turn to dust. As it will this week when we have 3 days of freezing temperatures; and, the plants just aren’t big enough to make it through it yet. There are forces of nature that farmers just have to deal with and hope for the best; but, let’s not blame a Facebook application for their trials.

The final sentence in the article states, “It’s time to support actual small farmers and stop playing around.” I can agree with that statement. Maybe the makers of Farmville could start a fund for small farmers that are deserving of help, maybe. But the folks that actually play the game have no business driving the modern equipment used by farmers. So, please don’t ask them to show up at local farms and ask to help. That would be a huge social reality mess!

Normally this is the place where I would try to somehow tie this into SoftLayer, but in this one I am just drawing a blank.

For your reading and commenting pleasure http://www.good.is/post/What-Does-Farmville-Mean-for-Farmers/?GT1=48001.

December 18, 2009

Peek-a-Boo!

It’s no hidden secret that a lot of older generation individuals are always struggling with technology. From sending an email to signing in to Facebook, most of our parents have struggled keeping up. One reason my parents have struggled with the internet is due to all the horror stories they hear. From viruses, to hackers, to identity theft they’ve almost been scared from logging into the monster that is called the Internet. I honestly never thought I would be able to convince them otherwise until last weekend when my son and I were playing peek-a-boo.

What better way to convince my parents, who live 965 miles away, to give technology and the internet another try then to play peek-a-boo with my son? I immediately gave my Dad a call and asked him to download Skype. He asked me the first question he always seems to ask which was, “How much is it?” To which, I replied free (This got his attention). After a brief argument on how he heard a co-worker’s computer crashed after downloading something on the internet, my Dad reluctantly downloaded Skype and we were on our way (this was about a 45 minute long ordeal, well worth it though).

Nowadays people in my generation thrive on technology, and we crave the latest and greatest gadgets and software we can get our hands on. With the internet becoming more accessible than ever before companies like Softlayer are able to provide the tools for anyone to claim a spot on the web all their own. Companies like Skype for instance have their servers housed somewhere in a datacenter just like Softlayer’s. I will probably never get my Dad to admit technology is his friend, but at least it’s beginning to become less of an enemy in his eyes. Especially since on any given Saturday morning he can login to Skype and within minutes be playing peek-a-boo with his first grandson.

October 30, 2009

Powered By the Internet

I recently engaged in an interesting conversation with my significant other. It went something like this:

Her: "The company made us take our facebook page down, because it wasn't official"
Me: "Really? I figured that'd be an awesome way to market your company... Create a group, invite all of your customers to join you, and advertise via facebook"
Her: ...

While the actual conversation did last a lot longer, she later made a valid point. Being well versed in the web hosting industry (as she has to deal with my barrage of nerdery on a daily basis), she mentioned that it made complete sense that a company such as SoftLayer should use the Internet, and social networking to connect the employees, customers, and fans together, pushing that envelope just a little bit further. Our whole operation, after all, is in fact powered by the internet.

We have all avenues open for social networking to help us power our business. You can look at what's going on in SoftLayer at any given moment via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, The InnerLayer... the list goes on, and surely continues to grow. It's only a matter of time until the next best thing comes around (does anyone remember MySpace, or Friendster?), I'll bet a paycheck* that we'll be quick** to jump on board.

After all, when all is said and done, there's no wrong way to market yourself. People do it all the time in their social networking profiles. They may present themselves as a party animal, a scholar, or a hard worker, but regardless, they're putting their image out for the world to see... and while it seems like a large paradigm shift for businesses, when one stops to think about it, it makes perfect sense; it's a free outlet to market yourself!

So while some companies are stuck in low gear, SoftLayer has hit the throttle, and speeding ahead, continuously braving ahead into new and interesting ideas. We'll continue to push the limits of what's acceptable to most, and use every tool to get our name on the streets.

* Comment made in jest. I will NOT bet an entire paycheck.
** I make no guarantees as to exactly how "quick" quick will be

October 9, 2009

Facebook games, the datacenter, and you – film at 11

Ok, I admit it. I am addicted to Facebook games. For those of you who are a bit “long in the tooth” you might remember a series of games from a certain era where all you did was walk around and try to figure “it” out, but you really didn’t know what “it” was. Zork for instance was my favorite. In Zork you simply walked around and talked to people, touched walls and things rumbled, and picked up and dropped items. etc. Now don’t misunderstand, you didn’t see this happen, it was all in your head because the only thing on the screen was text. Think of it like the hit TV show LOST in text and you were John Locke. Are you LOST yet? Here is an example:

Facebook has taken us back to the world of Zork but now you can almost see what is going on. Let’s use the early on Mobster style games as example number one. They were sleek and simple; do a job, fight someone, whack someone on the hitlist, write a script, find a bot to do it all for you and become a “made man”. Now, the main idea in these games is ad generation and page views, so when the techies of the world figured out how to cheat, um I mean make the game more efficient, it was time to add some new ideas to the games to keep you more in tune to your monitor and the ads on the page instead of your bot! Enter the flash games, they are shiny and I like shiny things! Maybe the word should be polished. There are a few farm simulation games that are very popular. A couple of them have over 18 million monthly active users. Who would have thought that everyone in the world wanted to move to Texas and become a veggie farmer, or berries, or raise animals and fruit trees? I have to say that the new games are to carpel tunnel as Krispy Kreme is to clogged arteries. You have to click and then click a little more and then even a little more. You have to do tasks, so you can do jobs, so you can move up in levels so you can do more tasks to do even more jobs to make more money and it just keeps getting more involved. Maybe there is a flash automation system out there I can find to do it for me!

I am going back to the farm idea for a minute. When I started out I had a couple of small plots and I would plant different crops. I had a few animals walking around and a fruit tree or two, some fences, some green space in between and flowers. I began to notice that some of the extra shiny things got in the way and made my farm very inefficient. I began to streamline, one crop, no green space because that is just wasted, no animals, just plant the whole screen, harvest and plow, rinse and repeat. It is now very profitable, easy to manage and I don’t have to worry about this crop will be ready in 2 hours, that crop will be ready in 2 days, etc. It just works!

So I have just described SoftLayer to you in a nutshell. At first we tried many things, streamlined it, got it down to a very efficient science automated “it” and then wrapped products around “it”. Our products are shiny, we don’t waste space, we have one crop, and it just works!

June 24, 2009

Clouds and Elephants

So there I was after work today, sitting in my favorite watering hole drinking my Jagerbomb, when Caira, my bartender asked what was on my mind. I told her that I had been working with clouds and elephants all day at work and neither of those things are little. She laughed and asked if I had stopped anywhere to get a drink prior to her bar. I replied no, I'm serious I had to make some large clouds and a stampede of elephants work together. I then explained to her what Hadoop was. Hadoop is a popular open source implementation of Google's MapReduce. It allows transformation and extensive analysis of large data sets using thousands of nodes while processing peta-bytes of data. It is used by websites such as Yahoo!, Facebook, Google, and China's best search engine Baidu. I explained to her what cloud computing was (multiple computing nodes working together) hence my reference to the clouds, and how Hadoop was named after the stuffed elephant that belonged to one of the founders - Doug Cutting - child. Now she doesn't think I am as crazy.

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