Posts Tagged 'Microsoft'

January 11, 2012

blue dog NETWORK: Tech Partner Spotlight

This is a guest blog from blue dog NETWORK about Hosted Sharepoint. blue dog NETWORK customers are realizing the results that every business wants from their information technology: intelligence, simplicity, and security. They get peace of mind and the agility to add or subtract users or services with just a click 24/7 at a cost savings of 30-50% over current IT services. blue dog NETWORK makes IT an operating expense, and from a financial and business management perspective, the implications are powerful.

EMPOWER your organization with Hosted SharePoint

SharePoint is the next generation of mobility and collaboration. Having access to a calendar or mailbox is one thing, empowering your organization to have all the content, communication, process management and flexibility needed to rapidly respond to business or customer needs is a goldmine ... One that is a simple click away.

Managing documents, calendars and inter-office information can be difficult. Documents get lost, version control is virtually non-existent and daily business functions that can be easily managed often get out of control. The capabilities of SharePoint 2010 work together to help your company quickly respond to changing business needs on an organizational rather than user level.

Using SharePoint 2010, your people can share ideas and expertise, create custom solutions for specific needs, and find the right business information to make better decisions without the requirement of costly technical expertise. SharePoint 2010 helps save time and effort, and focus on higher business priorities.

At blue dog NETWORK, we've found that our least technical clients quickly and with ease adopted Sharepoint as a mainstay for their diverse organizations. It really is the next generation of collaboration that has finally matured enough and is presented in a web interface whose simplicity meets end users' needs without training and learning curves. The two biggest Sharepoint benefits for them: An incredible productivity experience and the flexibility (and visibility) to respond to business needs.

Delivering the Best Productivity Experience
SharePoint 2010 helps your people be more productive. It offers a familiar Microsoft Office experience so your team can quickly and easily access the business information they need to get their jobs done. With blue dog NETWORK, this is available on any device with Internet connectivity (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphones, etc.) on Windows, Mac, Linux and Unix operating systems.

Rapidly Responding to Business Needs
SharePoint 2010 gives you out-of-the-box applications and a platform for customized solutions. You can use the features of SharePoint 2010 just as they are or quickly create secure and easy-to-use solutions for specific business needs. Because all of your information is consolidated in Sharepoint, you also have a one-stop place to track the progress of your projects, and if there are any problems, you'll see them quickly (so you can respond quickly).

Given the success many of our customers have seen with Sharepoint, I could go on and on about the business benefits of the platform. If you want to learn more, check out the details on our listing in the Tech Partners Marketplace. If you want to see a demo of Sharepoint 2010, visit our blue dog NETWORK Sharepoint feature and click "view demo" toward the bottom of the page on the right-hand side.

As Kevin and I talked about in the video interview above, blue dog NETWORK does a lot more than Hosted Sharepoint ... We offer all flavors of hosting for the end users, MSP and ISVs with White Labeling for resale. Given the demand for Sharepoint, we wanted to use this space to share a little of our expertise and experience with that platform.

Woof!

-Dana Viznea, blue dog NETWORK

This guest blog series highlights companies in SoftLayer's Technology Partners Marketplace.
These Partners have built their businesses on the SoftLayer Platform, and we're excited for them to tell their stories. New Partners will be added to the Marketplace each month, so stay tuned for many more come.
Categories: 
March 29, 2011

The Rise of the Geek

Whether fact or fiction, in business, sports, politics or the arts, everyone loves a triumphant underdog story, and who could be more of an underdog than a bookish, socially awkward geek? You know ... the ones that were overlooked and under-appreciated (until they made their first million dollars). The history of the Internet is littered with geeks changing the way nearly every person in the developed world interacts with the people around them. In honor of these stereotypically statistical underdogs, May 25 - the premiere date of the first Star Wars film (among other geeky holidays) - has come to be known as Geek Pride Day.

With more than 80,000 active servers and 550+ employees, SoftLayer is essentially a Geek Think Tank of employees and and proving ground of sorts for customers. As I'm writing this, the faint hum of our generators and cooling systems remind me that the next Facebook or Microsoft might be getting started in the data center pod right below my desk at our Dallas Alpha HQ.

Just considering that prospect reinforced to me that the geeks have really done it! The 2.0 millennium has been marked by the rise YouSpaceTwitterWikiMyTube sites spurred on by textbook-definition nerdy underdogs ... It's right in line with Lance's theory of world domination. No longer are geeks merely the Steve Urkels of the business world.

They're successful, smart, savvy, innovative early adopters.

Let's take a moment and explore some of the more polarizing geeks of our day - Geeks who made being a geek cool:

  • Steve Jobs - 500,000 iPads sold by the end of the first week of release. Apple's market cap exceeds that of Microsoft for the first time since 1989. Open Source application development and support is a key part of its ongoing software strategy.
  • Bill Gates - Windows, Microsoft Office, Xbox and their new "To the cloud" focus.
  • Mark Zuckerberg - The Founder of Facebook:
    • More than 500 million active users
    • Entrepreneurs and developers from more than 190 countries build with Facebook Platform
      • Many of whom use SoftLayer as their Infrastructure host :-)
    • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
  • Peter Parker - Spider Man - Peter has a natural gift for the sciences and is considered by some genius. After being bit by a radioactive spider Peter develops super physical human strength and ability along with a sixth sense for danger.
  • Dwight Schrute - Top salesman for the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. Winner of numerous sales awards. One-time Assistant to the Regional Manager and beet farmer extraordinaire

Alright ... I might be getting carried away lumping fictional characters into the mix, but you get my point.

As a member of the SLales department, I am forever "geeking out" over new and exciting applications, products and tools the our customers are coming up with. Although I don't believe I can truly claim my geek badge of honor yet, I aspire to reaching that rank.

-Arielle

PS: For the geeks out there, (without cheating) what year was the first Star Wars film released? Did you see it in the theater? If you weren't alive when it was released, when did you first see it?

Categories: 
February 14, 2011

The Black Cat

"Dogma." "Religion." What comes to mind when you hear these words? In the real world, you might think of Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. In the political world, you might think of Communism vs. Freedom. Closer to home, you might think of "red state" and "blue state."

Computers are deterministic, logical machines, yet they too have all the trappings of the world's major religions and dogmas. The desktop world is dominated by Microsoft and Apple to use the religion metaphor. All computing worlds could be broken down into "proprietary" and "open source" if we are talking about dogma.

Relevant to this discussion, the web development world has three major religions in those two dogmas: Microsoft's ASP.NET, the PHP world, and the Java world. My platform of choice has always been ASP.NET.

I am pretty solid in my reasons for preferring it over all others, and also pretty clear about the accidental reasons I found myself in this camp. Much how someone born into a particular religion is likely to freely adopt it at some point, I too ended up adopting ASP.NET for reasons that were nothing more than accidental.

I consider myself a 'citizen of the world' in more ways than one, and the opportunity to work at SoftLayer was an opportunity I couldn't turn down. I had to check my biases at the door, open my mind, and see how this side of the aisle does business. (And as if to remind me that a dogmatic shift has occurred in my professional life, Fox News continues to greet me every morning at the top of the stairs.)

To admit just some of my biases: How on earth did you build an enterprise-grade portal with a weakly typed language that doesn't require something as basic as a compiler? More importantly: Why? How does one work with such a thing? Some of you still use VI?? Seriously?

Fast forward about six months — just enough to say I am "proficient" in PHP and to have an exposure to the database side of things. The journey and rants are long and technical, but it should come as no surprise that I still prefer the Microsoft ecosystem over one based on PHP. I find it easier to work with, faster, and less error-prone than the alternative. The language is more structured, the tooling is better, and the framework better established and developer-oriented.

Humor me with this for a moment.

Assume for the sake of argument that my belief is correct — that Microsoft's offerings are indeed better than PHP's on every metric a developer can measure. If this is true, one might reasonably conclude that SoftLayer erred in its choice of development platform. Even though I will be the first to evangelize the virtues of the Microsoft ecosystem, I'll also be the first to say that this conclusion is wrong.

The conclusion is wrong because in asking the "Why?" in "Why SoftLayer chose the platform it did," I approached the question from the perspective of what's best for the developer. The question should have instead been phrased as: "What does SoftLayer's choice of platform say about our core values?"

It isn't exactly open source. Place the source code on any laptop, and you'll get the modern-day equivalent of summary execution: You will be fired.

It isn't developer convenience. It isn't needed. From what I've seen here, the developers have used their tools in a more extensive and architecturally correct way than I have in my time in the ASP.NET ecosystem.

The elusive answer can be summed up in one word: Independence. Fierce independence if you're into using superlatives.

While the Microsoft ecosystem may be the easiest on developers, it comes at price. Microsoft's ultimate responsibility is to the thousands of people that use its tools, so it has to steer its platforms in a way that fit the disparate needs of the many developers who rely on them. In relying on its own software, built on open-source offerings, SoftLayer can steer its platform in a way that benefits SoftLayer ... It has only its own needs to consider.

The soundness of this reality — and indeed, the necessity of being fully independent when one's core offering is the basic infrastructure that runs people's businesses should be obvious.

Very often we become overprotective of our dogmas, and fear that which we do not fully understand. To that end, I try to remember the words of an unlikely capitalist: "It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice."

-George

October 22, 2010

Microsoft Windows 7 Goes Mobile

On October 11, our friends at Microsoft unveiled what promises to be the first in a long series of devices that will be powered by the newly minted Windows Mobile 7 operating system.

From a device perspective, they look familiar to what we currently get from Apple and Google Android powered devices. Each device features a relatively large touch screen, and a number of on-board applications that let you send and receive phone calls, send email, listen to music, watch videos and browse the internet. In addition, Microsoft offers the promise of the Marketplace Hub – here you can download other applications and games to the device.

The great thing about all of this is the potential impact on SoftLayer. The success of both Apple and Google’s Android OS (which is found on a number of different vendors including HTC, LG, Lenovo, Samsung and others) is due to a lot of factors. What is certain is that one of those factors has been the birth of a developer community that feeds all sorts of wild and wonderful applications to the Apple App Store and the Android Market. It is amazing how many people will pay $2.00 to hurl a bunch of fowl at pigs…make no mistake, this is a lucrative marketplace.

It goes without saying that SoftLayer has a bunch of app developers as clients. Our ability to quickly scale combined with a network architecture that can take whatever is thrown at it makes us a great partner. Not only do we host a number of test and development environments, but we also host a number of the live applications that are getting pushed out to end users. The addition of a robust Microsoft powered device to the family means a few things for us:

  1. A number of companies will begin to work on porting games/apps to Microsoft Mobile 7. (We have already started)
  2. A new flock of developers will arrive that are focused on Microsoft Mobile 7 apps. They will start there and consider porting to Apple and Android environments if they are successful.
  3. Once the test and development work has been completed, it will be time to put those new apps in the hands of a bunch of eager consumers.

As far as I can tell, everything points to more SoftLayer! And the world needs more SoftLayer. So, on that note, let’s me take the opportunity to wish Microsoft terrific success with the new mobile OS. After all, a rising tide raises all ships!

-@quigleymar

November 2, 2009

It’s All About Perception

American cars aren’t reliable. That is what the 70’s and 80’s taught me. Up until then it was about the only choice. Enter the Datsun’s, Toyota’s and Mazda’s they were lower priced and didn’t break down as often and it wasn’t like breaking a chicken bone to turn on the blinker. Today, American cars are much more reliable and the 3 or 4 I have had in the last 10 years have had few or no problems at all. But ask anyone my age and you got it; America cars aren’t reliable. You know what they say, “perception is 9/10th’s of the law” or is that possession. Oh well.

Would you rather have an RCA Small Wonder or Flip Video device? I bet that due to the great marketing minds of the world and the type of folks that read blogs you want the Flip Video and you are now on Google trying to find out what the heck an RCA Small Wonder is. This is probably more related to marketing but even now that you have searched and you know what the Small Wonder is, which would you buy? It’s the perception that RCA is old and wasn’t and still isn’t very reliable. It’s also why Radio Shack is now just The Shack, it was time to rebrand because Radio Shack was for the “Bolt-On” generation and The Shack is for the “integrated” generation. Where is all this leading?

In a recent meeting I was asked why we sell more LAMP stack operating systems (RedHat, CentOS, Debian, Etc.) than we do Microsoft Servers and the point was made that there is still the perception that Windows in insecure and has lots of bugs. I believe Microsoft has a huge mountain to climb to rid the world of this perception whether it is true or not, much like the American auto industry. Even if they release a secure and stable product today, and they have, it would still take many years for our society to realize it. Why? Because much like RCA, Microsoft was around when technology was just starting to become cool. As Lance (our CEO) would say, “RCA and Windows NT Server came out in a time period when the people using them were in a bolt-on mentality and today’s users are fully integrated into the technological lifestyle.” What does that mean? The bolt-on generation saw things happen and had do adapt: knobs on TV’s became remotes, rotary phones became push button became cordless became bag became cellular phones, arcade games became pong became Atari became Nintendo became Wii video games, Commodore became IBM XT became clones (running Windows 3.1) became Dell (running Windows 95) became servers (running NT4.0) became the Internet (running LAMP stacks and Windows servers), and this list could go on and on. I think I need a t-shirt that says “I’m a Bolt-on”. My kids however, are fully integrated into this lifestyle and don’t realize how bad some things were in technology to get to where we are today. They wake up every day and technology is everywhere they turn. Of course technology still changes quickly and people have to adapt, but the changes aren’t as life changing as they were when technology was young. The bolt-on society is much more forgiving of mistakes with technological advances where the integrated society wants perfection. They hear on TV and the radio that Windows is insecure and had/has bugs and they want instant gratification and perfect technology. Some of the bad stigma Windows has is due to the bolt-on generation using Windows desktop software and applying those bad memories to the new Server products from Microsoft. If Vista is unstable and insecure then Server 2008 must be as well, right? Linux, on the other hand, was a server OS first and then became a desktop tool. It just didn’t get scrutinized like the Windows OS’s and since it’s desktop product isn’t as mainstream its issues are mainly low key and under the radar.

Microsoft has some challenges in the coming years and may need to take a few lessons from the American car manufacturers and “The Shack”. I believe a large separation of the desktop OS’s and the Server OS’s is needed and it all starts with rebranding the server choices. Maybe the desktop OS keeps the Windows name but change the Server Operating System to “Insert cool trendy name here” and drop Windows from it completely. This is just my opinion and I could be wrong.

This was a long read so I think I will go get in my unreliable American truck and hit the road, I am just 33,000 miles from hitting 300K!

July 20, 2009

Thankful

So here I sit cramped in a seat built for a 10 year old on American flight 1492 from New Orleans to Dallas. There isn’t enough room left for a marshmallow I bet. Yep, I am thankful I just left the site of the Microsoft WPC 2009 where I had to do a little booth duty and mingle with some folks that run the coolest companies out there. The show seemed a little different this year. Last year the recession was just getting going and gaining some steam. The big companies still had previously budgeted money to burn and were doing just that. They had very large booths and better swag and Microsoft rented Minute Maid Park in Houston and threw quite the party. This year was noticeably different. I would bet that over 50% of the people that came by our booth were international which tells me that US companies are still cutting back. One very large US Company wasn’t even at the show and they were a flagship last year. One of our much larger competitors was barely existent, a flyer here a business card there and most other companies had much smaller booths and the swag was just not quite as enticing. Thankfully my kids like anything so they will still be extremely happy with the 3 bags of stuff I was able to round up. I am thankful that SoftLayer was able to hand out just over 1000 cool SoftLayer Frisbees (boomers to our international friends) and 200 cooler bags. The boomers were a great hit at the show and as far as I know no one lost an eye in the process of handing them out. Microsoft still put on a great show and “The Party” at the House of Blues was really cool. I just wish one year they would actually send me the email so I could get the wristband instead of standing in the slacker line.

Enter the ton of bricks that hit me. I am extremely thankful and 99% percent sure, no wait, I am 100% sure that I work for the coolest and one of the fastest growing companies out there. Thankfully after a week of spreading the word about SoftLayer I am on this flight back home. Thankful the pilot knows how to fly and land this jet. Thankful the flight attendant just gave me some lukewarm orange juice. Thankful I remembered to take my laptop out of the bag I checked this time but still managed to leave my cell phone in the checked bag! I am off my leash!

Ok so back to my subject.

I am Thankful this is almost my 2 year anniversary at SoftLayer. Thankful the guys that started this place and the great minds they have added along the way are really running a top notch company. Thankful that I wake up every day excited about my company and my role, thankful that SoftLayer lives within our means, and thankful the things we spend money on are for one thing, to make our product better and our customers happy. Thankful we do not waste on the posh extras that some other companies brag about. Thankful that once a customer tries us out and understands what our system is capable of they rarely ever leave. Thankful SoftLayer has great punch and people drink it regularly with pride, both customers and employees alike. Thankful that our products have the ability to help struggling companies in this down economy and we continue to grow because of it. Thankful we are setting sales records and our churn rates are much lower than this time last year. Thankful word is spreading on how we can let a company hold on to their capital for other expenditures and simply pay monthly for their IT needs on demand. Thankful we have a plan and we stick to it. Thankful we know what we are great at and don’t try to be everything to everyone wasting countless hours complicating our business plan. Thankful I can sleep at night knowing I am at a stable company and I don’t have the worries that many people in our country have during this recession. I wish everyone affected by the recession a fruitful second half of the year and hope that everyone can start recovering from the current hardships.

Oh and I am thankful that the flight attendant has moved along to the folks behind me and is finally finished booty bumping me every 3 seconds and thankful we are 45 minutes from DFW!

And I know…… you are thankful……. that this blog is ending……. Thanks for reading…….thankfully……

June 3, 2009

Microsoft Still Following the Leader with Bing.com Offering

The new search engine “Bing” by the software colossus Microsoft is a sad attempt at capturing some of the search engine traffic that internet superstar Google has dominated for quite some time. Based on the preview video at bing.com, the search engine offers little in new features or innovation, instead catering to the ‘too-lazy-to-click-the-back-button” crowd with expanded link previews from the search results page. I have personally found this type of feature to be near worthless, as information of value is typically more than a few lines from the top. Then again maybe my 5 button mouse has numbed me to the indignation so many users have suffered by having to move the cursor to click the back button after discovering the web page wasn’t quite what they were after. (Google added longer previews in March.)

Microsoft representatives point out the technologic advancement of augmenting the standard fare keyword searches with some semantic based algorithms. This alone should yield significantly better results than the current Microsoft engine, “MSN Live Search.” (Google rolled out its semantic searches months ago.)

Next, Microsoft offers the “Conjecture Circle” to combat Google’s “Wonder Wheel”. OK, I’m just kidding on that one. Besides, it is only June, and Microsoft is still catching up with Google’s March features. They will not be taking on the “Wonder Wheel” until August or September.

I think I see a pattern here! This “innovation” reeks of lag. While taking the conservative copycat approach might be the safe thing for the boys from Redmond, it will never vault them to the front of the line in this market. The turbo boost for technology industries is clearly tied to new ideas and advancement. We see this time and time again as startups bring new whiz-bang tools to market and shoot right past the established giants. Time will of course tell. Fortunately in the fast paced world of the internet, we will not have to wait long it see if Bing will go bang.

Categories: 
October 24, 2008

Pushing the Microsoft Kool-Aid

Recently on one of our technical forums I contributed to a discussion about the Windows operating system. One of our director’s saw the post and thought it might be of interest to readers of the InnerLayer as well. The post focused on the pros and cons of Windows 2008 from the viewpoint of a systems / driver engineer (aka me). If you have no technical background, or interest in Microsoft operating system offerings, what follows probably will not be of interest to you—just the same, here is my two cents.

Microsoft is no different than any other developer when it comes to writing software--they get better with each iteration. There is not a person out there who would argue that the world of home computers would have been better off if none of us ever progressed beyond MS-DOS 1.0. Not to say there is anything wrong with MS-DOS. I love it. And still use it occasionally doing embedded work. But my point is that while there have certainly been some false starts along the way (can you say BOB), Microsoft's operating systems generally get better with each release.

So why not go out and update everything the day the latest and greatest OS hits the shelves? Because as most of you know, there are bugs that have to get worked out. To add to that, the more complex the OS gets, the more bugs there are and the more time it takes to shake those bugs out. Windows Server 2008 is no different. In my experience there are still a number of troublesome issues with W2K8 that need to be addressed. Just to name a few:

  • UAC (user access control) - these are the security features that give us so much headache. I'm not saying we don't need the added security. I'm just saying this is a new arena for MS and they still have a lot to learn. After clicking YES, I REALLY REALLY REALLY WANT TO INSTALL SAID APPLICATION for the 40th time in a day, most administrators will opt to disable UAC, thereby thwarting the added security benefits entirely. If I were running this team at MS I'd require all my developers to take a good hard look at LINUX.
  • UMD (user mode drivers) - the idea of running a device driver, or a portion of a device driver, in the restricted and therefore safe user memory of the kernel is a great idea in terms of improving OS reliability. I've seen numbers suggesting that as many as 90% of hard OS failures are caused by faulty third-party drivers mucking around in kernel mode. However implementing user mode drivers adds some new complexities if hardware manufacturers don't want to take a performance hit and from my experience not all hardware vendors are up to speed yet.
  • Driver Verification - this to me is the most troublesome and annoying issue right now with the 64-bit only version of W2K8. Only kernel mode software that has been certified in the MS lab is allowed to execute on a production boot of the OS. Period. Since I am writing this on the SoftLayer blog, I am assuming most of you are not selecting hardware and drivers to run on your boxes. We are handling that for you. But let me tell you it’s a pain in the butt to only run third party drivers that have been through the MS quality lab. Besides not being able to run drivers we have developed in house it is impossible for us to apply a patch from even the largest of hardware vendors without waiting on that patch to get submitted to MS and then cleared for the OS. A good example was a problem we ran into with an Intel Enet driver. Here at SoftLayer we found a bug in the driver and after a lot of back and forth with Intel's Engineers we had a fix in hand. But that fix could not be applied to the W2K8 64-bit boxes until weeks later when the fix finally made it from Intel to MS and back to Intel and us again. Very frustrating.

Okay, so now that you see some of the reasons NOT to use MS Windows Server 2008 what are some of the reasons it’s at least worth taking a look at? Well here are just a few that I know of from some of the work I have done keeping up to speed with the latest driver model.

  • Improved Memory Management – W2K8 issues fewer and larger disk I/O's than its 2003 predecessor. This applies to standard disk fetching, but also paging and even read-aheads. On Windows 2003 it is not uncommon for disk writes to happen in blocks
  • Improved Data Reliability - Everyone knows how painful disk corruption can be. And everyone knows taking a server offline on a regular basis to run chkdsk and repair disk corruption is slow. One of the ideal improvements in terms of administering a websever is that W2K8 employs a technology called NTFS self-healing. This new feature built into the file system detects disk corruption on the fly and quarantines that sector, allowing system worker-threads to execute chkdsk like repairs on the corrupted area without taking the rest of the volume offline.
  • Scalability - The W2K8 kernel introduces a number of streamlining factors that greatly enhance system wide performance. A minor but significant change to the operating system's low level timer code, combined with new I/O completion handling, and more efficient thread pool, offer marked improvement on load-heavy server applications. I have read documentation supporting claims that the minimization in CPU synchronization alone results directly in a 30% gain on the number of concurrent Windows 2008 users over 2003. That's not to say once you throw in all the added security and take the user mode driver hit you won't be looking at 2003 speeds. I'm just pointing out hard kernel-level improvements that can be directly quantified by multiplying your resources against the number of saved CPU cycles.

Alright, no need to beat a dead horse. My hope was if nothing else to muddy the waters a bit. The majority of posts I read on our internal forums seemed to recommend avoiding W2K8 like the plague. I'm only suggesting while it is certainly not perfect, there are some benefits to at least taking it for a test drive. Besides, with SoftLayer's handy dandy portal driven OS deployment, in the amount of time it took you to read all my rambling you might have already installed Windows Server 2008 and tried it out for yourself. Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. But still...you get the idea!

-William

Categories: 
July 24, 2008

Here's to Bill

Bill Gates' final day as an employee of Microsoft was June 27, 2008. Let's all raise our virtual glasses in a toast! Or maybe a virtual fist-bump is better - here you go: III!

I had intended to type this up in time for Mr. Gates' last day, but just simply didn't have time. This marks a historic change at the software behemoth in Washington. Love him or hate him (and there are many people on each side), few people truly realize the impact he has had on the world as we know it.

I love the fact that in America, you can get a crazy and creative idea and run with it. Gates realized that Intel's 8080 chip released in April 1974 was the first affordable chip that could run BASIC in a computer that could be small enough to be classified as a "personal" computer. Then he read an article in the January '75 issue of Popular Electronics about a microcomputer called the Altair 8800 made by Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), which ran on an Intel 8080. Realizing that he had to seize the moment because the timing would never be right again, Gates took a leave of absence as a student at Harvard and contacted MITS about developing a BASIC interpreter for that machine. He collaborated with Paul Allen to prepare demo software and close the deal, then he and Paul Allen formed a company named "Micro-soft." The hyphen was dropped in 1976.

Can we imagine what our world would be like had Gates missed reading that magazine in January ‘75? Or if he had decided to finish school and become a lawyer as his parents had hoped? I can't imagine what technology I'd be using to produce documents like this today if Gates and Allen didn't follow through on their crazy idea in 1975.

To get an idea of how deeply Bill Gates has influenced us today, just try either running a business or doing your job without interacting with a computer. If it's not impossible, it's very very difficult at best. Next, try running the computers for your business without ANY Microsoft products. Again, this is difficult but not totally impossible. Then, try interacting with other businesses that use Microsoft products. If you're then successful doing that, think of how many of your daily activities involve a Microsoft product.

I actually worked for a boss in the mid-90's who hated Microsoft. He ran IBM OS/2 operating systems and non-Microsoft applications (Word Perfect, Quattro Pro spreadsheets, etc.). He didn't want to be reminded that Gates originally helped develop OS/2 in partnership with IBM. When IBM dropped support for OS/2, my boss capitulated and migrated to Windows.

At SoftLayer, we use and support a lot of non-Microsoft products. But we couldn't do what we do today without Microsoft products, and many of our customers demand Microsoft products.
In typical American entrepreneurial fashion, SoftLayer started with some semi-crazy ideas to connect the dots between different products in creative ways that had not been previously done. We will do well to have a fraction of the impact that Bill Gates has made.

-Gary

Categories: 
June 5, 2007

Microsoft: The Next SoftLayer

Microsoft, the Next Softlayer…

I'm only kidding, but with the recent announcement for Microsoft's Surface, total integration across product platforms has serious backing from within Microsoft, as evidenced by Bill Gates' support. The idea behind "surface computing" is to capture all tangible applications that are data-driven and integrate them into a portal that allows cross-sharing no matter what the product is (a phone, a camera, a personal computer or whatever). The commonality of this all lies within centralization. As one analyst writes in a recent Business Week article:

"It will be at least a few years before a consumer will be able to buy a Surface Computer and bring it home. To get there, Microsoft will need to create an ecosystem where software developers are motivated to write must-have applications. 'This thing is only cool if it works seamlessly,' says Roger Kay, president of market research firm Endpoint Technologies Associates. 'If it works well, it's game-changing.' Should those stars align, Kay says, sales could reach into the low billions of dollars in five years. 'Individuals are going to want this much faster than Microsoft is going to be able to deliver it to them,' he adds.”

When the team here at Softlayer started, we all had a very similar view as it pertained to the dedicated hosting and utility computing markets. With a tremendously successful track record behind us building companies spanning most everything internet-related, we looked at these markets with a simple question to answer—"How do we merge the physical layer with the virtual layer?” If we could answer this question, this would be our game-changing moment. After our recent announcement of the world's first API in the dedicated web hosting environment, we are certain the game has changed. The API has certainly started to answer our simple question of merging the physical and virtual environments and now with the introduction of the SoftLayer Development Network, we have opened doors to what is sure to be some really exciting applications to come in the next few days, weeks, and months. Our Eco-System is now one that resides both internally at SoftLayer and with our customer-base. We feel we've just barely touched the "Surface.”

-Sean

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