Posts Tagged 'Flexibility'

April 20, 2011

An Innovative Approach to Managed Hosting

One of SoftLayer's driving principles is innovation — Our mantra is 'Innovate or Die.' We don't focus on offering the lowest cost solutions; we strive to offer the most innovative solutions, which in turn brings customers the greatest value.

Take as an example SoftLayer Managed Hosting, a new service we're launching this week.

A quick survey of the market tells us a number of key things about managed hosting in terms of the value proposition offered, as well as the challenges that it can present. The value proposition seems clear: Organizations that need their infrastructure managed and don't have the internal resources to do so can either expand their IT capabilities or look externally to a service provider to take on the work. Many choose the second option because it is much faster and more cost effective than building an internal function. Elimination of infrastructure management responsibilities combined with a lower price would seem to deliver significant value.

So where's the downside?

A typical managed services deal comes with a 3-5 year contract, often accompanied by an early termination fee. The end result: customer lock-in. If the service is not up to snuff, it is difficult to move to another provider.

This is great for the provider, but not so great for the customer. To make matters even less customer-centric, these deals tend to be "all or none" affairs. The service provider wants to add management fees to everything versus just those pieces that the customer wants managed. In addition to that, provisioning time can be horrendous. A managed environment typically takes anywhere from 10-15 business days before the customer can access the environment. That's a painful length of time when you compare it with the five minutes it takes to provision a SoftLayer cloud instance and the 2-4 hours it takes to get a dedicated box online and ready for you.

Understanding the competitive landscape, we decided to take a different approach with our Managed Hosting: The innovative approach.

Instead of a 10-15 day provisioning window, we'll have your managed environment up and running within one (1) business day of ordering.

From a contract perspective, we are confident enough in our service to offer a month-to-month terms. If you don't like the service or if we can't deliver, you should be free to find a provider that meets your needs — no penalties incurred. Isn't it time to expect a provider to earn your business each month? This arrangement also makes managed hosting feasible for short-term needs and applications.

Additionally, SoftLayer Managed Hosting is not "all or none." We'll manage only the pieces of the solution that you want managed.

And to top everything off, it just so happens that we can deliver these solutions at a price point lower than anyone else in the market because of the platform's flexibility.

In this case, innovation brings customers the greatest service value AND the best price!

CBNO

-@nday91

P.S. Neovise prepared a detailed report on our managed hosting offering: A New Breed of Managed Hosting for the Cloud Computing Age. If you like white papers (and who doesn't?), it'll be right up your alley.

November 10, 2010

The Custom-Made Cloud

Not to toot my own horn, but I am an actual Rocket Scientist (well an Aerospace Engineer, but Rocket Scientist sounds way cooler). When you are a Rocket Scientist, most of your time is spent in dealing with facts – universal constants, formulas, and a data set that has been validated countless times over. My role at the CTO at SoftLayer is sometimes a challenge because I have to deal with the terrific hyperbole that the tech world inevitably creates. Consider the Segway, Unified Messaging, etc. I think that cloud computing has also fallen prey.

The cloud promises a lot and it does deliver a lot.

  • Control puts decisions and actions in the hands of the customer. Self-service interfaces enable automated infrastructure provisioning, monitoring, and management. APIs provide even greater automation by supporting integration with other tools and processes, and enabling applications to self-manage.
  • Flexibility provides a broader range of capabilities and choices, enabling the customer to strike ideal balance of capital and operating expenses. In addition, access to additional infrastructure resources happens in minutes rather than week enabling you to respond "on demand" to changes in demand.
  • Flexibility and control combined give administrators more choice. Who manages infrastructure (Internal staff or service provider?) Where are workloads processed in an internal datacenter or in the public cloud? When are workloads processed – is this resource-driven or priority-driven? How much to consume – is this policy-driven or demand-driven? How is IT consumed – via central administration or self-service?

Despite its numerous benefits, the operational and cost effectiveness for many enterprises is challenged by the fact that most cloud services come in limited configurations and only serve as standalone solutions. One cloud does not fit all – Fixed specs do not allow administrators to optimize a cloud environment with the ratio of processing power, memory or storage that its intended application needs for its best performance. Most cloud service providers offer a relatively small number of preconfigured virtual machine images (VMI), often starting with small, medium and large VMIs, each with preset amounts of CPU, RAM and storage. The challenge is that even a few sizes (versus only one) don't fit everybody's needs. For example, applications perform best when they are running on servers with optimized configurations. And every application has unique resource demands. If the server is "too small," performance issues may arise. If the server is "too large," the customer ends up paying for more resources than necessary.

To a degree we have already been doing lots of "cloudy" things given our focus on automation. Combine that with a set of tools that let customers self-provision and I think you see where I am headed. The next step up the value chain is SoftLayer's "Build Your Own Cloud" solution. It delivers all of the benefits that I discussed above, but adds the logical step of handing configuration control to the customer. Customers are able to determine a number of things about the environment that their cloud sits on.

Cloud Computing Options
Cloud Computing Options Part Two (Monthly)

The end result is a cloud environment that is fit for customer purpose and customer cost. A classic win-win situation. I wonder what we will think of next.

-@nday91

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