Posts Tagged 'Future'

July 19, 2011

PHIL's DC: A Tour of the Facility

In the second episode of my self-made documentary series about the birth of a revolution in hosting, I explained how Lance and I mutually decided that a better course of action would be to build a data center for the future's future, and I sketched out the basics of effective data centering. Lance sent the keys to the new non-traditional facility, and I jumped at the chance to give a tour of the amazing digs.

Because I wanted to make sure to document as much of the process as I could for this documentary film (I'm coming for you, The Social Network), you're experiencing the tour as I explore the space for the first time, so I hope you find it as magical as I did. Note: I took the liberty of acquiring suitable transportation to give you the most professional "tour" experience.

You'll note that the facility features several important characteristics of the best data center environments:

  • Heightened Exterior Security
  • Data Center Operations Area
  • Weather Tracking Station
  • Tech Support Center
  • CEO Suite
  • Redundant Bandwidth Providers
  • Multi-phase Power
  • Power Generator
  • Built-in Cooling
  • Crash Cart Station
  • Vaulted Ceilings (for warm air circulation)

Now that I've got the lay of the land, it's just a matter of drawing up some plans for server racks, plugging in some servers and getting some customers to experience the newest wave of hosting innovation!

-PHIL

July 1, 2011

PHIL's DC: Fine-Tuning the Idea

When Lance opened the floor for SoftLayer employees to present their ideas for "innovative" approaches to the Internet, I put together a pretty ambitious proposal. As it turns out, the idea wasn't as fully baked as I may have wanted it to be, but I came to the decision to change gears a little and take a different approach.

Completely unrelated to that personal decision to adjust the direction of the project, I had a nice little chat with Lance on the phone. We decided that the world was underready for a revolution and that a more traditional nontraditional approach was in order:

The Internet needs data centers to hold all of your pictures. SoftLayer does a great job at being a data center, but I feel like there's still an opportunity for a revolution in data center design. I have a few ideas about how the world of web hosting can be completely redefined, and with the unique resources Lance has put at my disposal, I'm fairly confident that I'll be able to create a stellar hosting platform with an unbeatable discount price structure. PHIL's DC is the future of web hosting.

- PHIL

June 16, 2011

An Exercise in Innovation

Some of the best ideas come from people who think "outside of the box." SoftLayer was born in a living room six years ago when we decided to look at the staid hosting industry from a new perspective. We said, "We don't want to build a company to meet customers' current needs. We want to build a company to meet the needs our customers don't even know they have yet," and that's one of the biggest reasons the SoftLayer platform has IPv6, KVM over IP, private network, out-of-band management and standardized pod-based data centers.

Only people with a certain level of "crazy" can recognize opportunities for innovation, and because SoftLayer's motto is "Innovate or Die," to incubate innovation, we have to create an environment that enables employees to take their "crazy" and run with it. Speaking of "crazy," meet Phil.

Phil plays guitar, tests software in non-standard ways, and has a bobble-head of himself. Some would say he marches to the beat of a different drummer – a drummer that may or may not be overdosing on caffeine.

Phil was tasked with a 12-week project: If SoftLayer is built for what our customers are going to need tomorrow, figure out what customers will need after "tomorrow." He'd have access to people and resources up and down the organization to build his idea, and the experiment is set up to incubate his innovation:

  1. Because there are no bad ideas in brainstorming, anyone helping Phil should do so without questioning the logic or "sanity" of what he asking for help with.
  2. Phil can spend up to 20% of his work hours building his idea.
  3. Anyone who helps Phil can spend up to 10% of his/her work hours to build his idea.
  4. Phil can have space in H2 to build his idea.
  5. Regardless of apparent success or failure, the project will conclude at the end of 12 weeks. From there, we'll evaluate the "good" and "not as good" ideas from the experiment.

It'd be impossible to guarantee the success of any kind of project like this because it's a little like catching lightning in a bottle, but I was interested to see what kinds of operational changes he came up with over the course of the three months. We might see the evolution of the next brilliant idea in hosting, or we'd see a lot of hilariously terrible ideas.

Then I saw his first installment:

By the time I got to "circumstantiate," I had the phone in my hand to call off the project. What I didn't expect was Phil's tearful pleading to take the idea down a different path. They say you don't get a second chance to make a first impression, and despite the fact that this first impression was pretty awful, I decided to give him another shot (with a much more limited scope):

  1. Apparently there are bad ideas in brainstorming, but anyone who helps Phil on his "new path" should try to be supportive.
  2. Phil can spend up to 5% of his work hours building his idea.
  3. Phil can't take anyone else from SoftLayer away from their jobs during work hours.
  4. Phil can have space in the Houston office to build his idea.
  5. The project is scheduled to run for 12 weeks. There's no guarantee that it'll make it through next week.

If you have ideas for Phil, feel free to contribute. He'd probably appreciate the help.

-@lavosby

February 18, 2011

Is Your Business Ready for World IPv6 Day?

As you may have seen earlier in the week, SoftLayer is joining ISOC's 24-hour IPv6 "test flight" as a part of World IPv6 Day on June 8, 2011.

As I alluded in ISOC's press release, SoftLayer is a hosting provider, but we aren't going to be an effective resource for our customers if we don't adopt the newest technologies and platforms for future growth. Because we've built our business around that idea, you won't see many substantial changes when June 8 rolls around ... We were a little ahead of the curve in December 2008 when we began providing native IPv6 support to our publicly available services. The point of this Internet-wide event is not about getting there first, though ... It's about everyone getting there.

What does World IPv6 day mean to you? Probably little to nothing in the short-run. While there's a unanimous sense of urgency to be prepared, the real deadline is still a little ways into the future. If you're a SoftLayer customer, it's pretty easy for you to take part in your own World IPv6 Day: Provision your free IPv6 /64 on your server and start using them.

I encourage you to set goals for IPv6 functionality for the near future so you don't find yourself scrambling for a solution when you can't get any new IPv4 addresses. Don't let the fact that ARIN still has 5.20 IPv4 /8s in aggregate lull you into inaction ... The well will run dry, and the sooner you're ready for it, the better. Would your business be ready to flip the switch to IPv6 on June 8?

-Will

February 24, 2010

"Where Are All of the Robots"

As you all know it is now 2010. We live in the most technological age of this planet. We have reached into the stars to find out if we are alone in the universe, while still finding out the secrets of our own planet. Growing up 2010 seemed so far away. Not just for me but it seemed that it did for everyone. Looking back at the pop culture of decades past the future was always around this time. Watching movies from the 50’s to the 80’s the 21st century was to be so advanced. People had robots, flying cars, etc. So why don’t we have personal robots that clean our house, mow the lawn or just do our job for us? I understand why we don’t but I guess I just kind of expect we should. It would be great to have a robot do my job for me so I could chill at the crib and still get paid. Now I am not lazy, I work hard and do my job well. In fact all of us here at SoftLayer work hard and perform them with an excellence that is not matched in the industry. That is why we are where we are, the leaders of IT. This is the best job I have ever had and I enjoy working here. It would be nice though to be able to stay at home and watch movies, play video games or just chill with friends while I send my robot to work for me and collect my paycheck. That would be cool. So I ask with all of the technology we have and the things that we can do with that technology, where are all of the robots? Oh and I want a flying car too!

Categories: 
January 25, 2010

Convenience Kills?

Have you seen the new Brita commercials that have the girl running on the treadmill? The tag line says something like, “1 hour on the treadmill.” Then a new tagline appears right above a store bought water bottle and says, “in the landfill for life.” That is a telling commercial. Convenience kills our planet. Before bottled water we grabbed a glass or plastic cup, filled it up and drank it, washed it, then rinsed and repeated it. Nothing went to the landfill. Even further back, and I barely remember this one, my grandfather would walk my brother and I over to a tiny little drug store close to his house; and, we could get a Dr. Pepper from a soda fountain in a glass soda cup and drink it and leave the glass behind for the next customer. You got it—nothing in the landfill. The same goes for coffee now. Cup after cup from a drive through window and where do the cups go? The landfill. In the past, you had a mug to use again and again. Cell phones? Why, yes! They are culprits too. We used to simply use a wall phone and not have to worry about upgrading it every 2 years and getting a new battery once a year. We now fill landfills with phones, chargers, and wasted batteries. If you look closely at everything I have mentioned so far, they are all designed to make our lives more and more convenient.

 

With so many people using convenient things today, we at SoftLayer do the best we can to make things very convenient but also do our part for the globe. We only print things on paper when absolutely necessary. Not only do we save a tree, but it is much more secure. Everyone recently received a plastic cup with the SoftLayer logo on it for water or tea. We can use these instead of using so many disposable plastic cups. We have recycle bins in each break room for the recyclables; and, as we have stated in many blogs, we have contracts in place with recycling shops for the extra server packaging we receive with new shipments. We do our best to stick to the 3 R’s—reduce, reuse, and recycle.

So how does SoftLayer continue making our service so convenient without being wasteful? I am glad you asked! Instead of going out and buying home servers, or desktop servers—which seems to be the newest craze—and then having to throw away all the unused documentation and un-used packing materials, we simply choose to team up with Supermicro. They are a server manufacturer that listens to their customers needs and provides solutions as well as design flexibility, rapid order fulfillment, and superior quality. We are no longer relegated to do what the other server manufacturers force on other customers. This gives us the freedom of convenience while still being green. Does it make our competitors green with envy? Sure it does. That is why there are lower price points offered in the hosting market by our competitors still using workstations, desktop and home servers instead of enterprise class, high efficiency, and low power consuming servers. The efficiency of our servers allows us to have very dense server rooms with a smaller footprint, which saves on power consumption for cooling as well. Last but not least, by using rack mount servers instead of towers, Supermicro has worked with us to reduce the packing materials by 80%—resulting in an eight pound reduction in the total weight of each server.

At SoftLayer we take pride in making convenient, green IT; and with Supermicro as a great partner, we continue to do just that.

April 5, 2008

Top 10 Things to Do with a Dead Horse

Mike Jones and I recently attended a conference, and one of the keynote speakers was Vijay Govindarajan from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. His presentation on business strategy encouraged us to 1) Manage the present, 2) Selectively forget the past, and 3) Create the future.

His main point of emphasis was to be sure that we did not focus so much on the present that we lose touch or else when the future arrives, we’re left behind. Along those lines, he mentioned that there may be some "dead horses" at present in your business. By a dead horse, he means a line of business that at present is declining. So what do you do about these dead horses? A la David Letterman, he gave us a Top 10 List that I’ll pass along to you.

10. Whip the horse a little harder
9. Change the rider
8. Harness several dead horses together for increased speed
7. Emulate the best practices of companies riding dead horses
6. Proclaim that it’s cheaper to feed a dead horse
5. Affirm that "This is the way we have always ridden this horse."
4. Declare that "This horse is not dead."
3. Have the lawyers bring suit against the horse manufacturer
2. Engage a consultant to study the dead horse

And number 1, Promote the dead horse to a senior management position.

At SoftLayer, we try to be all about creating the future. Whether it’s opening up our API’s or adding new features to our portal or opening new geographically diverse data centers or leveraging our geographic diversity to roll out new products and services, we have the future in mind. Yes, you’ll see some new wrinkles once our Virginia data center goes live in a few short weeks. We promise to keep any dead horses from stinking up the place.

-Gary

Categories: 
June 8, 2007

Your Datacenter is Obsolete

By 2010, the datacenter as we know it today will be dead. Datacenters of the future will be ultra high-density geographically-dispersed IT utility centers. Datacenters will be focused on maximizing all the facets of the IT environment including floor space, HVAC, power, server form factor, security, storage, networking, bandwidth, personnel and preventive maintenance. Physically, I envision 5,000 square foot facilities installed across the globe that are relatively small, lights-out bunkers utilizing commodity infrastructures, owned or leased footprints, and housing servers at a rate of 10 per square foot.

The datacenters will be designed, built, and fully functional on day one -- including the installation of all IT equipment. There will be no movement of physical components as everything will be managed virtually through a series of networks and management tools -- a datacenter grid, if you will. These datacenters will only require personnel for failure-replacement or maintenance. Hardware node failures would automatically route to other nodes in the same datacenter. The failure of a datacenter would result in a re-route of data to other facilities. A series of failsafe datacenters, with all data, will be sitting on the edge near the end user for maximum performance and efficiency. Companies would select geographical regions for their installations of IT services.

The datacenter of the future is indifferent to the technology of the day. Dedicated hosting, virtualization, grid computing or the next emerging technology all work in the datacenter of the future because they will be designed as an IT utility. It's time for the datacenter to grow up.

-@lavosby

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