Posts Tagged 'Family'

October 10, 2012

On-Call for Dev Support AND a New Baby

I began working at SoftLayer in May of 2010 as a customer support administrator. When I signed on, I was issued a BlackBerry to help me follow tickets and answer questions from my coworkers when I was out of the office. In August of 2011, that sparingly used BlackBerry started getting a lot more use. I became a systems engineer in development support, and I was tasked to provide first-tier support for development-related escalations, and I joined the on-call rotation.

In the Dev Support group, each systems engineer works a seven-day period each month as the on-call engineer to monitor and respond to off-hours issues. I enjoy tackling challenging problems, and my Blackberry became an integral tool in keeping me connected and alerting me to new escalations. To give you an idea of what kinds of issues get escalated to development support, let me walk you through one particularly busy on-call night:

I leave the office and get home just in time to receive a call about an escalation. An automated transaction is throwing an error, and I need to check it out. I unload my things, VPN into the SoftLayer network and begin investigating. I find the fix and I get it implemented. I go about my evening, and before I get in bed, I make sure my BlackBerry is set to alert me if a call comes in the middle of the night. Escalations to development support typically slow down after around 11 p.m., but with international presences in Amsterdam and Singapore, it's always good to be ready for a call 2:30 a.m. to make sure their issues are resolved with the same speed as issues found in the middle of the day in one of our US facilities.

Little did I know, my SoftLayer experience was actually preparing me for a different kind of "on-call" rotation ... One that's 24x7x365.

In June 2012, my wife and I adopted an infant from El Paso, Texas. We'd been trying to adopt for almost two years, and through lots of patience and persistence, we were finally selected to be the parents of a brand new baby boy. When we brought him home, he woke up every 3 hours for his feeding, and my on-call work experience paid off. I didn't have a problem waking up when it was my turn to feed him, and once he was fed, I hopped back in bed to get back to sleep. After taking a little time off to spend with the new baby, I returned to my job, and that first week back was also my turn on the on-call rotation.

The first night of that week, I got a 1 a.m. call from Amsterdam to check out a cloud template transfer that was stuck, and I got that resolved quickly. About 30 minutes later, our son cried because he was hungry, so I volunteered to get up and feed him. After 45 minutes, he'd eaten and fallen asleep again, so I went back to bed. An hour later, I got a call from our San Jose to investigate a cloud reload transaction that was stalling with an error. I worked that escalation and made it back to bed. An hour and a half later, the little baby was hungry again. My wife graciously took the feeding responsibilities this time, and I tried to get back to sleep after waking up to the baby's cries. About an hour later, another data center had an issue for me to investigate. At this point, I was red-eyed and very sleepy. When my teammates got up the next morning, they generously took the on-call phone number so I could try to get some rest.

This pattern continued for the next six days. By the end of that first week, I got a call from work at about 3 a.m., and I picked up the Baby Monitor from the night stand and answered, "Dev support, this is Greg." My wife just laughed at me.

I've come to realize that being on-call for a baby is a lot more difficult than being on-call for development support. In dev support, I can usually documentation on how to resolve a given issue. I can search my email for the same error or behavior, and my coworkers are faithful to document how they resolve any unique issues they come across. If I get to a point where I need help, I can enlist the assistance of an SME/Developer that commonly works on a given piece of code. When you're on-call with a baby, all the documentation in the world won't help you get your newborn to stop crying faster, you don't get any clear "error messages" to guide you to the most effective response, and you can't pass the baby off to another person if you can't figure out what's wrong.

And when you're on-call for development support, you get some much-needed rest and relaxation after your seven days of work. When you're on-call for a new baby, you've got at least a few months of duty before you're sleeping through the night.

As I look back at those long nights early on, I laugh and appreciate important things in my life: My wife, my son, my job and my coworkers.

– Greg

August 31, 2012

The Dragon SLayers

It's been a couple weeks since we last posted blog post featuring what SLayers are doing outside the office, so I thought I'd share my experience from a couple months ago when SoftLayer competed in the 2012 Annual DFW Dragon Boat Festival. As you may remember, Cassandra posted about SoftLayer's participation in the Houston-area Dragon Boat Festival, so I'm taking it upon myself to share the Dallas experience.

Let me start off by admitting to you that I'm no expert when it comes to dragon boat racing. In fact, when I was asked to join the team, I was reluctant ... I'd never done anything like a dragon boat competition before, and I didn't want to make a fool of myself. It took a bit of convincing from my coworkers, but I ended up signing on to represent SoftLayer as one of the twenty people in our boat.

As it turns out, I wasn't the only rookie. In fact, this was the first year we've had a boat full of newbies, so we all learned the ropes (or oars) of dragon boat racing together. We had practice on Home Depot buckets in the hallway for about two weeks before we actually hit the water, and by the time our on-the-water practice came, we already had a good feel for the basics of the race. Until then, I had no idea how small the boat was and how soaked we'd get while we were paddling. What had I gotten myself into?

My son was home from college over the race weekend, so I managed to get him signed him up as a backup rower. When we got to the lake, the SLayers were all very noticeable ... Our team was sporting the "Dragon SLayer" shirts, and the SoftLayer tent was abuzz with activity. There were other big companies there like AT&T, Sprint, the Dallas SWAT team, Penny's and Samsung, but we weren't intimidated — even when the other teams started talking smack when we broke out our Home Depot buckets to get some last-minute practice.

When we set sail — er... paddle — we were nervous. The gun sounded, and in a flurry of synchronized rowing, we found ourselves at the finish before everyone else in our heat. First race, first place. Obviously, we were excited by that outcome, so we were probably even more antsy when it came time to run the second race. We piled into the boat, made our way to the starting line, and after another flurry of activity, we won the second race! We were in the finals.

You can probably guess what happened next:

We won it all!

In the video, you can see that we started out slow but came from behind to take the victory (The video gets better at the end of the race). The eagle eyes in the audience will probably also notice that we rowed so hard that the dragon head came off of the boat.

Our practice on the Home Depot cans turned out to be pretty effective. My son Jeremy wound up playing a key role on the boat — the drummer — and he headed back to college with quite a story to tell his friends. All of the SLayers stuck around to accept our trophy, and we made sure to snap a few pictures:

I am proud to call myself a SLayer (and a Dragon SLayer)!

-Fabrienne

Categories: 
July 6, 2012

My Advice to Myself (A New Server Build Technician)

When I started at SoftLayer, I had no idea what to expect. As I walked from the parking lot to the front doors at SJC01, I started to get nervous ... I felt was like I was stepping onto a stage, and I was worried about making a mistake. I took a deep breath and walked in.

Now that I look back on my first day (which was about a month ago), I have to laugh at my nervousness. I'm not sure what I expected to encounter, but the environment I entered was probably the most welcoming and friendly I've ever seen. Two of my coworkers, Cuong and Jonathan, recently shared their experiences as SBTs in San Jose, but because I have some recent first-hand experience that's still fresh in my mind, I thought I'd share my own perspective.

If I were able to talk to myself as I nervously approached the San Jose data center on my first day, this is what I'd say:

As you'd expect from any new job, your first day at work involves a lot of learning (and paperwork). You're probably chomping at the bit to get out into the data center to start building servers, but you need to crawl before you walk. The first thing you need to do is get the lay of the land ... You get a guided tour of the office, the data center and your workspace. Even if you've worked in a data center before, you're going to be surprised and impressed with how everything is set up. Once all of your paperwork is in order, you start learning about SoftLayer's business and how you contribute to the customer experience. Once you understand the big picture, you can get into the details.

You're given a training guide that goes over many of the processes and procedures that are followed on a day-to-day basis in the data center, and you're shown all of the components you'll be working with as you build, upgrade and manage server hardware. You might not be performing much work on hardware in production in your first few days, but you're going to learn a lot and have plenty of time to ask questions. While you're learning how to perform your work tasks, you're building friendships with your coworkers, and you're officially becoming part of the SoftLayer family. Your fellow SLayers support you and help you make sure SoftLayer's customers are getting the service they expect.

You're taught everything you need to know, from staying organized and focused to best practices around working with servers. You have nothing to be nervous about.

I've only been with SoftLayer for a short period of time, but I can confidently say that working here is remarkable. I don't feel like an "employee;" I feel like a team player. I feel like everyone is on the same page about what needs to be done in the data center, and whenever questions come up, answers are given quickly.

I'm excited to come to work every day. I would have never dreamed I'd feel this way because I was always told jobs are long and drag-out boring, but my experience has been the polar opposite. Now, When any of my friends complain about getting up and going to work, I recommend they visit http://www.softlayer.com/about/careers.

-Jackie

March 7, 2012

"That Cloudamajigger Thing"

At my house, we share a single iTunes account because as much as I hate to admit it ... I listen to the same music as my 11-year-old on occasion, so why buy the same music twice? I have my iPhone setup to automatically sync via any wireless connection, so I occasionally get new apps when someone else in the house downloads something.

Last week, my 8-year-old handed me his iPod and said, "Dad, can you enter the password so I can install BloodnGuns?" No way. He went through three or four reasons that he thought he needed the game, and I just went about my business. A couple of minutes later, he hands me the iPod again and says, "Dad, can you enter the password so I can install Temple Run?" Being a much tamer game, I said I would, but (knowing my son) I followed that up by saying, "Just remember: Anything you install goes to my iPhone, too." If I entered the password for him for Temple Run, he would be authenticated and could then get BloodnGuns, so I just wanted to remind him that I was born at night, not last night.

The sneaky little guy looked up to me and grinned, "Oh yea, 'cuz of that cloudamajigger thing."

Once I finished laughing, I asked him what he meant by Cloudamajigger, and before he could answer, I told him to wait ... I wanted to document how he would describe "The Cloud." With two other kids at home, I thought it might be an interesting focus group of the way kids are learning about technology, so I made it a family project.

I asked each of them three questions and told them to email their answers to me"

  1. What is "The Cloud?"
  2. Where does "The Cloud" live?
  3. What is SoftLayer?

Here are the responses:

The 6-year-old

  1. The cloud shoots out a ball and the cloud is awesome!
  2. In the sky. It is made out of water.
  3. Where dad works, I think he makes monitors.

The 8-year-old

  1. It's a cloud in the sky and they shot a satellite in it. And they could see all the things you need to see on the internet.
  2. See number 1 (Yes, he really typed that).
  3. Where dad works, he works to make the Internet, and the Internet makes him work.

The 11-year-old

  1. It is a group of people where when you post something everyone will be able to see it.
  2. I don't know.
  3. A company.

You can see that the 11-year-old is darn close to those wonderful teenage years with that loquacious participation ... Wish me luck!

I ask these same questions of people at conferences I attend and get generally the same answers as above. We can write reams of descriptions of the cloud, but in my world, it's simply "The Cloudamajigger Thing."

How would you answer those three questions?

-@Skinman454

June 30, 2011

Having a Computer Guy in the House

This SoftLayer Blog entry actually comes to us from Kate Moseley (Age 10), daughter of VP of Network Engineering Ric Moseley.

I think it is cool that my dad is a computer guy that works for SoftLayer because he is always able to fix our computers, TVs, and anything electronic. His job is to order and fix computer networks. He also likes messing with anything technical at home including iPods, iPhones, computers, TVs, etc.

My dad is always working so hard to earn money for our family. Sometimes he's so busy emailing people at work that when you ask him a question, it's like he can't even hear you. I also think that it's cool that he gets to travel to a different state almost every month it seems like. I love going to my dad's office because I get to see what it's like working in an office with so many people in such a busy place.

My dad goes to many meetings with his boss, Lance, and the rest of the staff. When he's not at his office, he's still working really hard at home! Sometimes he stays up till 4 o'clock in the morning to help fix things at his work. One time he got a call while we were on vacation saying that a router was down at the data center and he needed to come back ASAP! So he packed up his bags and headed back to Dallas! Sometimes we don't even get to sit down and have an actual meal as a family because he always misses dinner and sometimes he's on a conference call for more than 2 hours at a time.

My dad used to work at The Planet. He and 9 other people came up with the company called "SoftLayer." SoftLayer recently merged with The Planet, and now they are one big company. His company is always getting bigger, so almost every year they have to move offices to a different location. My dad loves his job because he gets to interact with one of his favorite things: Technology. SoftLayer has given my family an opportunity to do many things in life that we would not ever have had the chance to do.

Someday I hope to be a part of SoftLayer just like my dad is today.

- Kate Moseley

If you share Kate's hope to one day be a part of the SoftLayer team, visit the SoftLayer Careers page. We have more than 50 positions available in Dallas, Houston, Washington, D.C., Seattle, San Francisco and Amsterdam. As Kate explained, SoftLayer is growing like crazy, so whether your background is in Finance, Technical Support, Facilities, Human Resources, IT, Marketing, Sales or Development, we want you to join us!

March 17, 2011

Joining the SoftLayer Family

About a month ago, I joined SoftLayer, and I feel like I've been welcomed into a big new family. I live in the Dallas area, and when I saw a listing from SoftLayer for server build technicians on craigslist, I sent in my résumé and anxiously awaited a response. Two weeks later, I got that response in the form of a phone interview with my soon-to-be manager, and since you're reading this post on SoftLayer's blog, it was clearly a great fit.

I am a Server Build Technician (SBT), and I'm part of the team responsible for building servers for new customers and maintaining our current server fleet. It's a rewarding feeling to know that the work we do helps customers we've never met (and might not ever meet) run their businesses. I personally think we have one of the most important jobs in the company, and it's one you might not ever see if you're not looking for it.

One of the most important things I was looking for when I joined SoftLayer was a company that takes pride in its people. That attitude energizes me and my fellow employees, and it really makes it fun to come to work. Maybe that's why it feels like a family. SoftLayer invests in its employees, and once you're a part of the company, you have a bright future ahead of you. Whether you're looking to move up the career path in your department or apply for a position on a different team, Lance and the management team have made it clear that they want us to succeed.

When I became a part of the SoftLayer team, I felt like I found a home away from home. The people I work with are awesome, and if you're awesome, I want you to come work with us too. SoftLayer's customer base is growing like crazy (as Tom explained in his video interview last week), so our team is growing as well.

The last time I checked, we had more than 25 available positions in in at least six different departments ... One of them is probably a great fit for you. Visit our careers page to get a full list of opportunities: http://www.softlayer.com/about/careers/

Hopefully, I'll get to meet you and welcome you to the family. Rock on!

-Dayrum

October 26, 2010

New Parents in a Technical Age

From discovering I was soon to be a father to the day to day progress of pregnancy, technology has been there to explain and even help with planning for the future.

Smart phones that have applications to plan and track the progress of my wife’s pregnancy combined with the incredible resource that is the internet have taught me an amazing number of things.

It’s really helped by understanding what’s happening and keeping me informed with how the baby should be progressing; not to mention helping me to understand what my significant other may be feeling or what she’s going through. It’s had a definite impact on decisions regarding what we should be doing, how we should be eating, and how to make a much healthier child. We have have found products and devices to help with tending our new born, keeping it save, and assisting with day to day caring.

There are even sites and applications to help prep you for the birth of your child and to help you learn parenting techniques for use when your child becomes older. I recommend that any new parent check out apps such as ‘Bump’ if you have a smart phone or check online at places like www.babycenter.com which contain information on pregnancy and having children.

-James

Categories: 
January 4, 2010

What's the Meaning of Family?

To a lot of people when you hear the word family you associate it with your mom, dad, kids, cousins etc. But, have you ever thought about your employer or co-workers being a part of your family? Let’s evaluate this question. You spend on average about 40 to 50 hours per week, which means an estimated amount of 1,920 to 2,400 hours per year, with co-workers. There will be moments where you laugh and cry together; there will also be moments when a long time co-worker will make a decision to advance their career in a new direction with a different company, and new additions will be made. Each family member has their responsibilities and role to play; the same way each department here at Softlayer does.

When I first came aboard in the Accounting department here at SoftLayer I was a little intimidated because I was clueless to the web hosting industry and I didn’t quite understand what SoftLayer actually did. However, I knew I was a whiz in accounting and therefore I could master this. To help shed some light on my job and its responsibilities, my boss decided to take me on a tour of one our data centers located in Dallas, TX. I was expecting to see a large room that stored a lot of servers and computer monitors; boy was I wrong and totally amazed. The SoftLayer Data center was so well organized and structured. There were no loose cables, rather elevated flooring and a state of the art floor cooling system to protect the servers from overheating. I was really impressed with the Hardware Engineers and CSA’s working diligently as a team to ensure all orders were processed 100% accurately. Being able to see the datacenter helped me understand more in depth what my job entailed.

Our Development department plays a huge role as well. They make sure new products are launched to keep us competitive in the web hosting industry. What we are advertising stands up to our name. A lot of behind the scenes testing takes place, which requires multiple departments to work together. Our Sales reps are very knowledgeable about our products and services. They ensure that our customers are happy with their purchases and that they stay happy. They go above and beyond to make sure you are renting a server that benefits your business needs.

Families like to have fun, and so does SoftLayer. We do company BBQ events and holiday parties as well as toy, food, and blood drives. They also make sure we get lots of SL gear, which we love! But most importantly we have monthly meetings with management where we can voice our opinion. After all, a happy employee is what keeps the company’s customer service level up. In conclusion, SoftLayer is a family oriented business and I do consider each of my co-workers a part of a family; because like a family, we all have to pitch in with a helping hand and help one another out.

December 1, 2009

Holiday Seasons and Holiday Shopping

It’s that time of year again. No, not time to spread joy and cheer to your family (it can be that, too), but rather the time of waiting in long lines when it’s freezing outside hoping to get a good deal or the perfect gift. It’s the holiday shopping season. With the holiday shopping season comes the holiday “holy cow it’s freezing cold out here” or the holiday “hey! that person just cut in line” season as well. Of course, one thing people need to remember this time of year is that it’s not about the shopping and spending money (Money? What money?) but rather it’s about spending time with family and looking back at the year that has passed. Of course, retailers and scammers would like you to think otherwise. They’re trying their hardest to get you to part with your hard earned money. What does this mean to you? It means that you have to watch out who you’re buying from and what websites you are giving your personal information to. This is the perfect season for scammers to get your grandparents to give up their personal information (and with it everything in their bank accounts). Of course, this is easily avoided. Most reputable websites will have SSL certificates from a reputable vendor. Being a customer of SoftLayer you are already aware of a (fairly) new service we offer… A short while back SoftLayer began to offer VeriSign and GeoTrust SSL certificates (for more information: http://www.softlayer.com/partners_geotrust.html). Simply making sure that the site you are buying from has a certificate installed like the ones we offer will help ensure that your information isn’t going to some thief hiding in his basement. What’s the moral of this story? (All Holiday stories have a moral…) Stay safe, be careful, and enjoy the holidays!

October 1, 2008

An Investor. A Mentor. A Friend.

In the passing of Rick Gardner, SoftLayer has lost all in one man.
He breathed life into our company and shared in our dream.
He saw opportunity where others assumed failure.
He brought clarity when we couldn’t see past ourselves.
He brought wisdom, experience and humor to the SoftLayer family.
With his wit, charm and intelligence he was an inspiration to us all.

Even in the short time that I knew him, he invoked in me a sense of passion and drive that few have been able to create.

Rick, we are devastated by your passing. But we will never lose your presence. You continue to guide us, as we fulfill every promise we made.

-@gkdog

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