Posts Tagged 'Fun Facts'

November 21, 2007

Smells Like SoftLayer

Seattle baby! That's what's next. With that being said I thought I would blog about Tom Hanks. I know you wish you had thought of this one too. I chose him because I figure he has done enough movies and other things that I can actually have enough content and he did do "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail" and they are both closely related to our expansion. Why, you ask? Right now we have a few guys in Seattle installing cage nuts -- 17,280 to be exact. That is 1 cage nut installed every 5 seconds for 24 hours straight (Sleepless!). I hate that I am missing out on that fun. Writing blogs is nice too I suppose.
So here we go Tom Hanks and SoftLayer!

SoftLayer works because we are all "Bosom Buddies". We all get along. Hopefully all of us will continue to be famous afterwards and not just half of us. That would make for a lot of "Happy Days" in the future. We also have quite a few "Family Ties" as we have a brother/sister pair (Fleitman), and 3 brother pairs (Kinman/Laude/Guerra/Harris) and we can't forget the Father/Son set (Rushe) family keeps things fun and busy! If we continue to grow at this rate we will all be making a "Splash" soon when we leave our competitors in the dust. When that happens we will have a party to rival the likes of the "Bachelor Party" and we can invite "The Man with One Red Shoe" and will need some "Volunteers" to serve the Hors D'oeuvres.

I bet most of you didn't know that Tom Hanks was in "Real Genius" but I will use it anyway because we really do have some real geniuses here (Everyone take a bow). This keeps us from turning into a "Money Pit" and on the top of our game. I could say that before SoftLayer all of us would have been just a bunch of guys with "Nothing in Common" but it seems that "Every Time We Say Goodbye" we seem to end up back together. Even having to go through the "Dragnet" is worth it, because we all want to be "Big" and have the last laugh in the "Punchline".

We all drive in from "The Burbs" almost daily just to make sure we make our customers happy and we let the kids watch "Turner and Hooch" on the in-car DVD on the way to daycare. Once we get here we keep the "Joe Versus the Volcano" attitude and will take on any problem and get it solved.

To keep it light, once a year we go play in Muenster and Sam cooks up the BBQ on "The Bonfire of the Vanities" and we pig out and have a blast. There are some great "Tales from the Crypt" after those parties. Sam and his cooking crew won 3rd place last year and that puts them truly in "A League of Their Own".

Meanwhile the guys are still "Sleepless in Seattle" and Lance is spending his nights thinking of the next location. I really doubt it will be "Philadelphia" at least I hope not, too many Eagles up there. Go Cowboys!

Note: I am pretty sure I am the "Forrest Gump" of SoftLayer. I think Gump had ADHD like me and that is why he wanted to be and do so many things in his life. I take pride in that! You can always tell by my blogs.

Back to being the best -- in "Apollo 13" the most famous line in the movie (true story too) was "Houston, we have a problem" I bet there are some competitors to SoftLayer out there that are saying that same thing right about now with our continued growth and that isn't some kid's "Toy Story" that is the honest truth. We do it with customer service and the best product. Why? We just like hearing our customers say over and over, keep doing "That thing you do" and we will keep buying your service. That hurts the competition sometimes. We aren't sorry about that. We will go "From the Earth to the Moon" to continue to make our customers happy and we will make sure "You've got Mail" when something important is coming and it will not be just another "Toy Story 2". Even if it is like "Saving Private Ryan" we do anything we can to make it happen. All while walking "The Green Mile" because taking care of our environment is very important to us. (You didn't think I was going to talk about the death penalty did you?)

Some people like to look at us as a "Castaway", but we truly are a "Band of Brothers" on the road to fruition instead of the "Road to Perdition" like so many others. I welcome all readers to try and "Catch me if you can" in this blog and let me know of the movies I have missed so far. I will admit I have skipped a few TV appearances so you have to let me slide on those.

One of these days I might have to blog on "Freedom: A History of Us" and let you know where we all came from and what got us here. It is a long list of "Great Performances" that would impress you. Some of us were the smart geeky type and some of us were "The Ladykillers" and could have fun at an airport in "The Terminal".

I am getting close to the end now so the Narrator would now say, "Elvis has left the Building" on the "Polar Express" or was it in a pack of "Cars", oh well either way. I hope reading this blog has been an enjoyable experience and not like trying to "Crack the Da Vinci Code".

-Skinman

October 19, 2007

A Well Designed Infrastructure Makes Everyone Green

As we all know there is an incredible amount of attention being paid to the “greening” of IT. Most people in the hosting industry regard this as the responsibility of the datacenter, as they can make the largest impact with their large-scale deployments of energy-efficient power supplies and processors, efficient physical layouts, cooling practices, and recycling.

Outside of the hosting industry the options become more varied—namely the ability to save massive amounts of power by turning off unneeded infrastructure during non-peak times. A great example would be a call center that operates 9-5 and shuts their workstations down when not in use, or an accounting firm that turns off their billing servers when they go home for the day. This is far from a common practice currently, but it is a very logical and easy step to conserving power. The gotcha here is that unless you can physically walk over to the infrastructure and power it back on, you are going to have to call someone to do it for you. Then wait for them to do it for you. Then hope that they don't forget. This leaves many businesses with infrastructure in an outsourced datacenter throwing their hands in the air, because it's frankly just too risky to not have their resources available at 9:00am when their day starts—might as well just leave everything on.

The story is a little different here at SoftLayer. Using our innovative network design and remote power control, our customers are redefining the way that IT is deployed in an outsourced datacenter. They run their web and mail servers here, pretty normal stuff. But utilizing the SSL to private backend network feature (allowing them to completely disable connectivity to the public network), they are also deploying their domain controllers here. And their office file servers. And their central servers to which their local thin clients connect. They are getting them out of the closet in the back of the office and into a datacenter on enterprise-grade hardware. And you know what they do at the end of the day? They turn them off. The next morning, a click on the power control in the SoftLayer Portal brings them instantly back online anytime, day or night. No phone call to support needed, no waiting for someone else to do it for you. The impact of technology designed to give you optimal control of your IT environment is staggering, especially when you see so many companies utilizing it.

So not only can you choose to deploy your operations in a datacenter that is making enormous strides in green infrastructure, but you can also deploy in one that provides you with the ability to control your own impact as well.

And just like that, everyone gets to be green. And sorry, envy doesn't count.

-Joshua

September 14, 2007

Blogging while Dryping

I get bored while driving to work so today I decided to Blog on the way to work. There are no corrections to what follows so easy on the spelling and grammar errors, you would make them too!

So I drive about 1 hour to work everyday and I deciced on the way that the other kinman's acct blogs were too hard. Almost like homework and I decided it was time to blog while dryping. Dryping isd driving while typing. Its a very unsafe practice but I like living on the edge. I walk on banana peels too! Back to dryping, we all carry blackberries to make sure we can rapidly respond so that is what is making this possible. I have the 8700c with the full keyboard. There are 2 types of dryping single thumb and dual thumb. So far this has been all single thumb. Update I am 0sabout 1/3 of the way in. Single thumb is self explanatory one hand on the wheel and one on the phone. Dual thumb dryping is best in traffic or at red lights. Amazingly I get more people honking at me when dual thumbing at redlights. I. Must forget I am supposed to go on green. Unfortunatly my phone has no camera or I could be taking pictuires of the trip. Ok halfway and my thumb is tired. A big van behind me would like me to speed up. Btw this is a 41 mile trip so I have a tiny car that gets great mileage. So the van looks really big in the mirror. You' in the white van' if you read this, don't tailgate the echo! 20 minutes left and almost on the freeway for a little dryping while going 80. 80 is interesting because it makes your thumb feel as it should be dryping faster. So I came up with th word dryping a few years back; if I have since been copied I was first; and my goal was to hear them use the word on OC and I never did. Did you? I guess we will never know now. Now I have to think of what show it should appear on now. I would say "Lost" ut they only had one van and one satellite phone and I think they finally broke both. Maybe they can say it in high school musical 3. Ok 7 minutes to go I better wrap it up. If I sideswiped your mirror in the making of this blog my apologies but I do have insurance. Technology is cool. I have left all grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors intact for the full affect. Ok, oi know I can't do much better on a real keyboard with help from spellcheckers or dictionaries and thesauruses but it sounded good. Last exit. Tollbooth. Redlight. Dual thumbs enabled well that was short lived. Have a great day. And no dryping allowed. Professionals only. Key off

We like metrics, here are some stats from the trip above. The trip took 59 Minutes and is 41.8 miles. The blog is 452 words and 2300 characters including the spaces. That works out to 38.98 characters per minutes and 55 character per mile. Out of 452 words I see 12 misspelled or mistyped and 3 punctuation errors that weren’t intended. So I asked the other Kinman (Financial Wizard) what percentage was typed correctly and he gave me 96.68%. So now you know if a customer has an urgent need and I am mobile I can still take care of it at 38.98 characters per minute with almost a 97% accuracy while Dryping!!

-Skinman

Categories: 
August 6, 2007

HostingCon 2007 / More Green

The SoftLayer contingency recently returned from attending HostingCon 2007 in Chicago and I have to say, it was a great experience. We had a lot of opportunities to meet up with many of our customers, meet with a lot of vendors and potential vendors as well as visit with some of our competitors.

While there, I had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion on "Green Hosting: Hope or Hype". Isabel Wang did a great job of moderating the discussion with Doug Johnson, Dallas Kashuba, and myself. The overall premise of the panel discussion was to talk about green initiatives, how they affect the hosting industry, what steps can hosting companies take and is it something we should be pursuing.

It was interesting to hear the different approaches that companies take to be green. Should companies focus their efforts on becoming carbon neutral by purchasing carbon credits such as DreamHost, by promising to plant a tree for each server purchased such as Dell, by working on virtualization strategies such as SWSoft or by working to eliminate the initial impact on the environment such as we have done at SoftLayer. You can probably tell from one of my previous blog posts where SoftLayer is focusing our efforts to help make a difference.

Besides the efforts of the individual companies on the panel, there were some good questions from the audience that helped spur the conversation. Does the hosting industry need its own organization for self regulation or are entities such as The Green Grid sufficient? Do any of the hosting industry customers really care if a company is "green"? Should a hosting company care if it’s "green"? And, what exactly does "being green" mean?

While there are differing opinions to all of those questions, there really isn't a "wrong" answer. Ultimately all of the steps companies take - no matter how small - will help to some extent. And no matter what the motivation - whether a company is "being green" in an effort to gain publicity, to save money or to simply "make a difference" - it's all worth it in the end.

-SamF

July 30, 2007

Being in Sales

Being in SLales (SL + Sales = SLales - we're so clever), I talk to around 200 people or so a day via email/tickets/telephone/chat/etc. I like to think of our SLales team as the "A" team in the industry. Going along with Jason's “we wear many hats”, we must have detailed knowledge of every single product and service that we offer -- networking capabilities, what program/software/application works with what hardware all the while fitting what each particular clients unique needs are into their budget.

A typical day for the SLales team involves getting to work and going straight for the Monster or coffee (or both) depending on your preference. Get to our cubes and login to our side of the customer portal, chat and check our email. This is when the fun begins. Immediately we are engaging people on chat, catching up our shared SLales and personal email inboxes, talking to clients or potential clients on the telephone, verifying orders, IMing with different divisions, putting through payments, credit card changes and grabbing tickets from existing clients looking to cut a deal for upgrading and/or adding servers and services – all at the same time. We take multitasking seriously here!

On top of all of that we have to make sure that customer billing is accurate when ordering these services depending on the deals we have available, which are always going to be inventory-based. Also, we are making sure that everything is working correctly on each customer's server and if not, coordinating a game-plan to make sure that the client is satisfied and running along smoothly, as quickly as possible.

At the end of the day we want all of our clients to be comfortable, happy, making money and enjoying themselves – because if you are, we are too!

-Michael

July 25, 2007

The OSI Model - Reworked

The Open Systems Interconnection Basic Reference Model (OSI Model) or 7-layer model has been around for decades. It was actually developed in 1977 by the ISO as an abstract model of networking protocols which is divided into seven layers. Each layer interacts with the layer beneath it or above it depending in the directionality of the conversion. The 7-layer model was written from a broader point of view and in today's world is not really used as it was intended. The most common protocol and the one most of us have heard of is the Internet protocol know as TCP/IP. The TCP/IP model only uses four of the layers to more simplify the architecture making it streamlined and easier for most to understand. Here are both models and a brief description and example of each.

OSI Model (7 layer)

  1. Physical – The electrical and physical connections for devices (example: wires, electrical signals, hubs, network cards)
  2. Data Link – Functional means of transferring data between network devices via switches and protocols (example: Ethernet, Token-Ring and switches)
  3. Network – This layer is responsible for transferring data between multiple networks via routing protocols (example: Internet Protocol (or IP), ARP, and RIP)
  4. Transport – this layer provides a reliable transparent transfer control of data between hosts (example: TCP and UDP)
  5. Session – This layer controls the connections between hosts. Establishes, maintains, and terminates connections between hosts. (example: NetBIOS and DNS)
  6. Presentation – This is the layer the data is transformed and formatted to provide a standard interface for the Application layer (example: ASCII to XML conversion)
  7. Application – Provides services and data to user defined applications (example: RPC, FTP, HTTP)

 
TCP/IP Model (4 layer)

  1. Network Access – This is the physical layer like cables, hubs, switches, and routers necessary for communications
  2. Internetworking – This is the IP address and layer that allows hosts to be able to find one another on the Internet
  3. Transport – Connection protocols like TCP and UDP operate here. This layer deal with the opening, maintaining, and closing connections between hosts
  4. Process/Application – High level protocols like HTTP, FTP, SMTP, POP3 operate

Back in the day when I got started in the networking field for a small ISP in Dallas, I had to study the OSI model for Cisco exams. I had to use anagrams to remember the different layers such as (P-D-N-T-S-P-A) "Please Do Not Throw Sausage Pizza Away" or in reverse (A-P-S-T-N-D-P) "All People Seem To Need Domino's Pizza" so I could keep them all straight. Once I was actually starting to get my hands wet in the field, I found the OSI model to come in handy when trying to troubleshoot networking issues. I had to morph the definitions of the layers to fit my needs, and used them as a daily reference on how to isolate issues and come to a resolution by stepping up and down the layers. Here is what I used to simplify my life when troubleshooting a dial-up connection (analog, ISDN and sometimes a T1).

Network Troubleshooting (7 layer/step)

  1. Physical layer – Is there good working cable between point A and point B? (the router and switch let's say). Have you tested the cable to make sure it works?
  2. Data link layer – Is there a link light on the router or switch? Is it plugged into the correct ports on both ends? Are the port speeds and duplex settings on either end matched up? (10/full, 100/full or 1000/full)
  3. Network layer – Can I ping across the link from the router to the switch? Am I using the correct IP address information?
  4. Transport – Am I able to get out of the local network? Is there a firewall that might be blocking something? Is the default gateway setup correctly?
  5. Session – Am I able to reach (ping) the end host I are trying to reach? (the web server in this case)
  6. Presentation – Is the service I am trying to reach installed and running? (like IIS or Apache) Is there a firewall blocking inbound requests? (hardware or software)
  7. Application – Is there actually content on the server to present? (HTML pages) Does the web server config have the appropriate permissions applied and pointed to the correct directory for content?

I know this might seem a little simplistic, but sometimes getting back to the basics is the best way to solve problems. It is also an effective way to teach people interested in networking how to troubleshoot issues that come up in our industry on a daily basis. I hope you find this approach useful and apply it in your environment.

A funny little known factoid is that when we started this company a couple years ago, the OSI model actually came up when designing our logo. When brainstorming and jotting down ideas one of our founders (guess who?) used the 7 Layer theme to design our current logo. Shows you how influential the OSI model has been in today's Internet driven world.

Let's see what anagrams you can come up with for "P-D-N-T-S-P-A" or "A-P-S-T-N-D-P" Give me your best shot. (keep it clean though!)

-Ric

Categories: 
July 20, 2007

Your Hosting Dollar

During some recent weekend R&R, my family and I saw a "human statue" street performer. He looked as if he'd been spray-painted gold – clothes, skin and all. He had a bucket out for "donations" and there was a healthy crowd watching. Parents would give dollar bills for their kids to put in the bucket. For each dollar, he'd do robotic movements and noise for 5 to 10 seconds and then return to statue status. After a few seconds, another dollar would go in the bucket and the cycle would repeat.

My son, a budding numbers-geek, said "Wow Dad, he makes pretty good money. I'll bet it’s $50 an hour." Being a full-fledged numbers geek, I said "By my calculations, it's more like $70 per hour".

This got me to thinking. What do we provide our customers for $1 of hosting fees? So I figured it out for our most popularly sold hosting offering. This is not $1 per line item below; it’s $1 for the whole package below.

  • 272,232,402,234,637 operations performed by the CPU at 50% utilization
  • 12 megabytes of RAM
  • 1.4 gigabytes of hard drive space
  • An Operating System to make it all happen
  • 45 seconds of technical support
  • 5,538,770,949,720,670,000,000,000 electrons (in the form of electricity)
  • 10,909 average sized packets of public transfer
  • Up to 37,973,200 average sized packets of private network transfer
  • All numbers are approximate. Nonetheless, be sure to make use of your hosting dollars here at SoftLayer!

    -Gary

Categories: 
July 13, 2007

Movin' on Up!

SoftLayer really is movin' on up! We can prove this fact in many different ways (growth in customer base, growth in server numbers, growth in annual revenue, growth in datacenter space/facilities, and more...). However, one other way to look at growth is by taking into account our business offices: previous working conditions, current working conditions, and future working conditions.

Office # 1:

Our first business office was quite interesting. It was basically one, medium-sized room, with a kitchenette and a conference room smack-dab in the middle. Mary Hall and I pulled double-duty as Sales Account Executive & Receptionists. Everyone sat back to back with their boss (within arm reach). There were no offices, no partitions, no privacy - for anyone. It is a bit intimidating to have the weight of the world on your shoulders (the pressure of making our startup company a complete success) and have your managers right beside you watching your every move. Then, there were the creative ring tones on some desk telephones. A few of the "higher-ups" decided to torture the rest of us. Here were a few:

Lance Crosby: "Respect my authority!!!" (Southpark's Cartman repeating this phrase over and over)
Steven Canale: "Quack Quack!" (The sound a ducky makes, obviously)
Mike Jones: Mike had a risqué, swanky music ring tone. I still wonder about that one!
Sean Charnock: "RRRRRRRRRRRING! RRRRRRRRRRRING!" (And kid you not, the yelling human voice recording sounded exactly like Sean)
Sam Fleitman: Sam's ring tone sounded exactly like our sales chat ring, so if we even thought about day dreaming - which of course we NEVER did - that one sure brought us back to reality quickly!

Office #2 (current office):

We have never even thought we would be as excited as we were when we received our own cubicles. The privacy! The extra space! No longer did we have to hear silly ring tones. No longer did everyone in the office have to listen to others' phone conversations. Most normal people sit in their cubicles wishing they were anywhere but there, however we sure do appreciate them. There are still a few employees who must endure sitting close to the microwave, which can be distracting. However, we are about to make the big move upstairs...

Office #3:

I have not been up there, but I have seen the layout. I have also heard the construction going on upstairs for the past month, and I know something good is in store. Some more of our VPs and directors will get their own offices. Everyone else will have their own cubicle, comfortably placed away from the annoyances of a microwave or ice maker. We will have more than one conference room, more space for new employees to join, and an all-around nicer facility. All will be peaceful and good with the world, and we can focus even more on making our customers happy.

-Amanda

July 11, 2007

Truck Day Operations

How do you unload 1,000 servers and have them ready to go live in a datacenter in five hours? With lots and lots of planning. Every month we take in a shipment of servers to accommodate the next 30 days of sales. Preparation for each delivery starts several months in advance with forecasting models. You have to look far enough ahead in your models to continually adjust forecasts for sales, facilities and available resources. Some vendors need more lead time than others so you have to constantly update your forecasts, all the way up to final order placement.

Also, you don't just walk into a datacenter with a server and set it down. There's a lot of work that goes into physical prep for the datacenter as well. You have to plan the datacenter layout, order and assemble racks, add rails, power strips, switches, power cord bundles, network cable bundles, etc. Every rack we deploy has almost 400 cage nuts and just under 200 cables in it. We don't just string a bunch of cables up and call it a day. Every cable bundle is meticulously routed, combed and hung to make them look professional. With that much cabling, you have to make it right or you'll never be able to work around it.

With one week to go before the trucks arrive, all of the datacenter prep starts wrapping up. And with just a few days left, we have our last manager meeting to review server placement, personnel, timing and other delivery details.

Next is Truck Day - this is when the fun begins.

On Truck Day, we leave plenty of people behind to handle sales, support and accounting, but everyone else is expected at the loading dock. After all the pallets are pulled off the truck and accounted for, the team gets busy un-boxing. As servers are unboxed, all of the spare parts in the boxes - spare screws, riser cards, SATA cables, and various other pieces - are sorted into bins on the dock. The servers themselves are then placed in custom transport carts and moved to the datacenter.

From there, the teams inside the datacenter sort the servers according to type and perform a strict QA process that includes verifying the hardware configurations and verifying that the components are all seated properly.

Once sorted, the servers get scanned into the system and racked up. As all of the cables are plugged in, another QA process is completed to verify that all of the ports are correct. At that point, it's just a matter of turning each server on and watching them check in, get their bios flashed with the latest and greatest release and having the system update any component firmware that is needed. As the systems check themselves into inventory, they go through two more QA processes that include an inventory check and a burn-in process.

By the time the truck is empty, the last box is stashed and the final server is racked up, everyone is ready to get back to their day jobs. Months worth of planning - all wiped out in a matter of hours.

Mary is working on a great post about what Truck Day looks like from a Salesperson's perspective. It explains why we have everyone get involved in the process.

-SamF

June 27, 2007

Spammers Beware: We're on Guard

Something happened today that we feel everyone should be aware of: We currently have no SBL listings for our IP space and we were recognized by the Spamhaus Team as a proactive no-spam-tolerance network.

Our hard work here at keeping spammers off of the network, and our reaction when they do make it on has been recognized. If you visit the Spamhaus ISP page, type in softlayer.com. You will find something that is very rare and something we are very proud of. To be recognized in this manner means a great deal to us.

Abuse is something that happens, there is no way around it. What does matter is how we are perceived to handle the situation, and working day in and day out with other abuse desks and networks does indeed pay off.

-Jacob

Categories: 
Subscribe to fun-facts