Posts Tagged 'Office'

April 15, 2013

The Heart of SoftLayer: People

When I started working for SoftLayer as a software engineer intern, I was skeptical about the company's culture. I read many of the culture posts on the blog, and while they seemed genuine, I was still a little worried about what the work atmosphere would be for a lowly summer intern. Fast-forward almost a year, and I look back on my early concerns and laugh ... I learned quickly that the real heart of SoftLayer is its employees, and the day-to-day operations I observed in the office consistently reinforced that principle.

It's easy to think about SoftLayer as a pure technology company. We provide infrastructure as a service capabilities for businesses with on-demand provisioning and short-term contracts. Our data centers, portal, network and APIs get the spotlight, but those differentiators wouldn't exist without the teams of employees that keep improving them on a daily basis. By focusing on the company culture and making sure employees are being challenged (but not overwhelmed), SoftLayer was indirectly improving the infrastructure we provide to customers.

When I walked into the office for my first day of work, I imagined that I'd be working in a cramped, dimly lit room in the back of the building where I'd be using hand-me-down hardware. When I was led to a good-sized, well-lit room and given a Core i3 laptop with two large monitors and a full suite of software, I started realizing how silly my worries were. I had access to the fully stocked break room, and within about a week, I felt like part of a community rather than a stale workplace.

My coworkers not only made me feel welcome but would frequently go out of their way to make sure I am comfortable and have the resources I needed to succeed. While the sheer amount of new information and existing code was daunting, managers assigned projects that were possible to complete and educational. I was doing useful work building and improving a complex production system rather than the busy work offered by many other employers' internship programs. I learned several new techniques and solidified my understanding of software engineering theory through practice. The open-door policy and friendly people around me not only created a strong sense of community but also allowed more efficient problem solving.

You may have noticed early in this post that I joined the company on a summer internship and that I also told you it's been about a year since I started. While summers in Texas feel long, they don't actually last a full year ... After my internship, I was offered a part-time position as a software engineer, and I'm going to be full-time when I graduate in May.

It's next to impossible to find a company that realizes the importance of its employees and wants to provide an environment for employees to succeed. The undeniable runaway success of the company is proof that SoftLayer's approach to taking care of employees is working.

-John

August 3, 2012

Work Hard, Prank Hard.

Hard work is nothing new to the SoftLayer staff — we strive for perfection in everything we do. We give ourselves strict deadlines, we always push ourselves to give the best support possible, and we make every effort to go above and beyond. Every now and then, we make sure to go above and beyond when it comes to having fun in the office, too.

I'm sure everyone has seen the 10,000 bouncy ball shower we gave SoftLayer COO Sam Fleitman for his birthday, and if you've been an avid blog reader for a while now, you'll remember the prank retaliation when John Eaves went to Hawaii and posted a picture of himself relaxing on Facebook with the caption 'Happy Truck Day.' After the rest of his team finished unloading and installing the servers that were delivered, they turned their attention to his desk. As you'd probably guess, those two pranks are only the tip of the iceberg.

If you walk through the office on any given day, chances are good that you'll see evidence of little pranks and inside jokes that we all play on each other. Sometimes it's subtle, like when a picture of a famous Canadian pop singer (No ... Not The Mitch) is posted by a coworkers desk:

SoftLayer Office

Sometime it's a little more ... obvious:

SoftLayer Office

Pretty recently, I returned to my desk to find my UFC fighters and Jersey Shore bobblehead action figures rearranged:

SoftLayer Office

Those innocent little pranks tend to get the wheels turning in the heads of the office pranksters, though: "What could be the next big office prank?" An anonymous group of SoftLayer employees heard that DAL05 Site Manager Joshua Daley (who led this DC tour) was going out of town for a couple of weeks, so he became the next target. Out of nowhere, someone came up with the genius idea of remodeling his office in Hello Kitty style, and that got the ball rolling. Soon enough, Post-it notes were worked into the plan, and somehow, it was decided that 1,000 inflated balloons would be involved.

The prank involved a significant amount of work, and it wouldn't have come together without an impressive group effort. Many technicians stayed after their shift and came in on their day off to help plan, decorate and blow up balloons, and the result was pretty impressive:

SoftLayer Office

SoftLayer Office

When Josh got back, he got a kick out the prank, and I think he had a little too much fun destroying all of our hard work:

The aftermath:

SoftLayer Office

If you walk through the office and notice a few technicians with shifty eyes, they're probably either keeping an eye out for pranksters that might be targeting them or scheming on their next prank victim. Speaking of which, I have some scheming to do ...

-Timothy

June 22, 2012

Building the SoftLayer Team - Inside and Outside the Office

Almost a year ago, I walked into SoftLayer for the first time as an employee, but it wasn't my first encounter with the business. I knew quite a bit about SoftLayer (and what it would be like to work for SoftLayer) because a family member and more than a handful of friends were already SLayers. By the time applied to join the company as an "API Evangelist," I had high expectations ... Or so I thought. As it turns out, I had no idea how outstanding working for SoftLayer would be.

When people talk about company culture, you usually hear buzzwords like "collaborative environment," "team-oriented," "transparency" and "progressive thinking." To a certain extent, they all sound a little forced and cliche, and it almost kills me that they're exactly the words I'd use to honestly describe my SoftLayer experience. Why? Because every day, I see people collaborating on news ways to innovate, execute code more efficiently and improve our systems ... And not only do I see that happening, I feel involved in those conversations as well.

In a day and age where it seems most companies do business like they are herding sheep, it's pretty phenomenal to work in an environment where employees are encouraged to speak, and when they speak, they are heard.

A surprisingly large part of SoftLayer's company culture involves getting employees out of the office. Yes ... I said out of the office! From baseball games to barbeque contests to dragon boat races, the SoftLayer team actually becomes more of a "team" when we leave the office. In my previous jobs, the last thing I'd want to do at 5:00pm on a Friday would be to spend a couple more hours with my work desk's neighbor. These days, I look forward to the chances to hang out with my coworkers outside the office. I know it sounds cheesy, but it's the truth.

Just look at the Pink Soles in Motion fundraiser to raise money and support the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Did it make a difference that the event was on a Saturday? Absolutely not. You could see SLayers in their SoftLayer gear everywhere you looked.

I am always impressed by the sheer number of people who love what they do and love being a part of SoftLayer. If you subscribe to the "SoftLayer Culture" RSS feed, you'll see exactly what I'm talking about ... That category is filled with posts from employees who can't help but share their love for SoftLayer with the world. When you get so many passionate and enthusiastic people under one roof, you get a with contagious excitement and the shared purpose of providing the best possible products and services to our customers.

When I walk through the office and see happy people talking about their work, I know I'm in the right place.

Thanks for the one-year anniversary, SoftLayer! It's been a great year.

If you want to put the SoftLayer culture to the test, check out the available Careers at SoftLayer to find an opportunity that can bring you onto the team. You won't be disappointed.

-Sarah

Categories: 
May 18, 2012

The Weekly Breakdown - Behind the Scenes at SoftLayer

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a renowned scholar in the field of psychology, said, "In large organizations the dilution of information as it passes up and down the hierarchy, and horizontally across departments, can undermine the effort to focus on common goals." That's one of the biggest reasons SoftLayer shares a weekly internal newsletter with SLayers in all departments and in all locations. Keeping coworkers informed of corporate activities (and "common goals") may not be very high on everyone's to-do list, but it's certainly at the top of mine ... literally. As Marketing Coordinator, I'm responsible for sending out a weekly update to ALL SoftLayer staff.

If you have a growing or geographically diverse team, rallying the troops around a shared message is a great way to keep everyone on the same page. If you're not sure where to start with your own internal newsletter, I'd be happy to dissect what goes into our "Weekly Breakdown" as an example you might build from.

SoftLayer Weekly Breakdown

The Weekly Breakdown kicks off with employee birthdays. We want to make sure all 700+ SLayers know when one of their coworkers is getting a year "better," and every month, huge birthday cakes are brought to every office to recognize the SLayers celebrating their birthdays. We haven't written a SoftLayer version of a cheesy-restaurant rendition of the classic "Happy Birthday" song, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK

John Doe 05/17
Jane Smith 05/17
Bill Scurvy 05/18
Kermit the Frog 05/18
Miss Piggy 05/19

In addition to employee birthdays, we'll also call out important days (like SoftLayer's birthday: May 5!) in the birthday section.

The next section in the Breakdown is similar to the "Birthdays" section, but it's a little more relevant to our business: "Anniversaries This Month." When you're hired at SoftLayer, you basically get a SoftLayer birthday, and we want to recognize how long you've been a SLayer:

ANNIVERSARIES THIS MONTH

10 Years!!!!!!!!!!

  • John Doe

8 Years!!!!!!!!

  • Jane Smith
  • Bill Scurvy

5 Years!!!!!

  • Kermit the Frog

1 Year!

  • Miss Piggy

After we recognize the SoftLayer anniversaries, we have a section devoted to keeping employees informed of various activities going on at SoftLayer. That might be a recent press release, an update on holidays or an upcoming company event. This section is the go-to place for employees to know what's new with SoftLayer.

SL SPOTLIGHT

Did you know that SoftLayer employees can get a discount on dedicated servers and CCIs? Talk to any of our sales reps to get started. You will receive a [secret] discount off any dedicated server or a [secret] discount off any CCI!

The next few sections list available SL Job Openings, New Hires from the previous week, and Organizational Changes. Given that SoftLayer is still growing like crazy, we want to make sure all of our employees see the available positions in the organization so they can share with their network of friends or so they can see any opportunities they feel might better suit their talents and passions. It's always nice to know who is helping SoftLayer grow (new employees) and how they are growing with SoftLayer, whether vertically or horizontally (organizational changes).

The next two sections are dedicated to employees "personal" lives: Classifieds and Fundraising Events. These sections let employees list anything they are selling or giving away along with any fundraising activities or events that they, their kids, their neighbor or their dog are involved in. We've had classified items like car wheels, stereos and animal adoptions, and you can bet that employees were voraciously reading the "Fundraising" section when Girl Scout Cookie orders were being taken.

We wrap up the Weekly Breakdown with my favorite section: SoftLayer Praise. There are so many reasons why the section gives me joy. It's amazing how many wonderful comments our customers have about SoftLayer on a weekly basis, and it's a "pat on the back" for teams that may not interact directly with customers on a daily basis. Sharing all of the praise is great for morale, and those little compliments here and there go a long way to making our team continue working hard ... even if just to hear those comments again and again! Here are some of my favorite comments from the past few weeks:

SL Praise

As our business expands we look forward to working with SoftLayer on our projects for many years to come.

My server was down and did not want to come back online without an FSCK. Called support and got a real person on the phone within seconds who was knowledgeable - excellent! He was unable to get the FSCK to run so escalated it. Server Was back online within 10-15 minutes of calling. Thank you. Keep up the great service.

We have been a Customer since 2004 (since the days of servermatrix) and would like to thank you for the wonderful support that we have received over the years. Thank you for an outstanding customer experience!

Great customer services. On numerous occasions was pleasantly surprised.

You people are great!!! I am very Happy with your service. Since 1 year I never face a single server down issue.

Softlayer is the best hosting company I know of, which is why we are hosting with you. You are doing a great job.

I Love SL!

I definitely refer all my colleagues to SoftLayer. Service and quality are amazing!

@SoftLayer always has the coolest stuff at trade shows. I have a shirt from them that is cool enough for me to wear in public!!

SoftLayer it's been wonderful. We been having softlayer rocket battles ... #SENDREINFORCEMENTS

Those kinds of comments can put a smile on any SLayers face! :-)

If you have any wonderful comments to say about SoftLayer or an individual employee, don't be scared to tell us ... Your comment might just be featured in our next "Weekly Breakdown." Comment on this blog, use SoftLayer's "Get Satisfaction" page, tweet @SoftLayer or post to our Facebook page. We love to hearing from you and working hard to remain the "best hosting company [you] know of!"

As you can see, the Weekly Breakdown covers a lot of SoftLayer goodness in a given week. It takes a little work to keep a 700-SLayer organization on the same page, but that work pays off exponentially when the team is able to share accomplishments, praise and goals. I'd highly recommend you trying your own weekly internal newsletter ... Now leave us some SL praise!

-Natalie

May 4, 2012

From "Computer Guy" to SoftLayer Server Build Technician

As I sat down to brainstorm ideas for this blog, I began to think about where I was when I started a few years ago and where I am now. When I was hired, I knew next to nothing about the inner-workings of data center IT. I was just your average computer nerd, or "the computer guy" as I became known around the house and to my friends. I had plenty of experience with hardware, but I had no clue just how deep the IT rabbit hole went ... I jumped in anyway.

Before I give you an example of one of the challenges I had to tackle early on, I should back up and explain a pretty important observation I had about SoftLayer: Despite how cheesy it may sound, SoftLayer is a family. If you are willing to learn and have a good work ethic, SoftLayer will to take you under its wing, and the sky is the limit. I was willing to learn, and I'd like to think I have a good work ethic, so I took on a pretty ambitious task: Learn Linux.

As a Server Build Technician — the physical "hands and eyes" in a data center — you can't get by without an intimate knowledge of Linux. As it turns out, trying to learn everything there is to know about Linux is sort of like saying "Get to the end of the Internet." Even after a few years of working with Linux, I still learn new things almost daily, and I'm sure that I'll continue to learn as long as I'm surrounded by Linux servers and other brilliant technicians who can share their Linux expertise. I could probably write a whole series of blog posts about all of the crazy things I've seen Linux servers do, but I'll focus on this "intro" blog first. Since starting with SoftLayer, my tenuous grasp of Linux was strengthened and eventually validated by my Linux+ certification!

That's only one little example of the kind of environment SoftLayer creates, and I could share dozens more.

When SLayers are treated like individuals rather than "employees," the culture is different. Managers and supervisors LISTEN to your problems/frustrations and are quick to offer their help and advice. I can feel comfortable to express personal issues with anyone in management, and I've had a handful of heartfelt talks with higher-ups that I would never dreamed of having at previous jobs. As a result, I'm excited when I walk into work because I feel like I get to hang out and work with friends for eight hours every day.

My coworkers and I can joke around one minute, and the next minute, we can have a serious and thoughtful conversation about how we could improve our processes or serve customers better better. Not only does that experience make for a comfortable working environment, it also creates a net of trust among coworkers. You know without a doubt that you can rely on your coworkers for anything.

I know it sounds like I'm stretching the truth (and the blog word count), but to be honest, there isn't enough room on this page to describe exactly how awesome I think the people at SoftLayer are. I've made many, many friends and roughly zero enemies. That's a pretty good ratio if you ask me. If you are even a TINY bit interested in IT, there's no better place to get your career started (or continued) than SoftLayer. There are positions for every skill set and level, and it doesn't stop there ... You aren't locked into one position or department if you find yourself more passionately drawn to another area of the business. SoftLayer encourages you to branch out and explore your career options, and if you want to move up, you're encouraged and supported by management to put forth the effort.

TL;DR If you're interested in getting into anything IT related, SoftLayer has a place for you, and as a very happy employee, I'd highly recommend taking advantage of that opportunity.

-Broc

April 16, 2012

TechStars Cloud @ SoftLayer - DAL05 Data Center Tour

Last week was HUGE for the inaugural class of companies in the TechStars Cloud accelerator in San Antonio. The program's three-month term concluded with "Demo Day" on Wednesday where all of the participating companies presented to more than 300 venture capitalists and investors, and given our relationship with TechStars, SoftLayer was well represented ... We were even honored to present a few of the companies we've been working with over the past few months. All of the 20-hour days, mentor sessions and elevator pitches culminated in one pitch, and while I can't talk much about the specifics, I can assure you that the event was a huge success when it came to connecting the teams to (very interested) investors.

Demo Day wasn't the end of the fun, though. After the post-pitch celebrations (and a much-needed night of sleep), the teams had one more item on their agenda for the week: A visit to SoftLayer.

On Thursday, the teams piled into a bus and made their way from San Antonio to Dallas where we could continue the celebration of their successful completion of the program ... And so many of the teams could see the actual hardware powering their businesses. After a nice little soiree on Thursday evening at the House of Blues in Dallas, we put the teams up in a hotel near our Alpha headquarters promised them an informative, interesting and fun Friday.

After a few hours of sleep, the teams were recharged on Friday morning and ready to experience some SoftLayer goodness so...

TechStars Cloud Data Center Tour

They loaded up the bus and took a 10-minute ride to our corporate headquarters.

TechStars Cloud Data Center Tour

Given our security and compliance processes, each visitor checked in at our front desk, and they were divided into smaller groups to take a quick data center tour.

I could tell that going on a data center tour wasn't the most exciting prospect for a few of the visitors, but I asked them to forget everything they thought they knew about data centers ... This is SoftLayer. Yes, that's pretty bold, but when each team walked out of SR01.DAL05, I could see in their eyes that they agreed.

TechStars Cloud Data Center Tour

The tour started innocently enough at a window looking into Server Room 01 (the first data center pod we built in DAL05). In the picture above, Joshua Daley, our DAL05 site manager, is explaining how all of SoftLayer's facilities are built identically to enable us to better manage the customer experience and our operational practices in any facility around the world. After a few notes about security and restrictions on what can/can't be done in the server room the group was led through the first set of secured doors between the facility's lobby and the data center floor.

TechStars Cloud Data Center Tour

From the next hallway, the tour group observed the generators and air conditioning units keeping DAL05 online 24x7. Josh explained the ways we safeguard the facility with n+1 redundancy and regular maintenance and load testing, and the group was led through two more stages of secured doors ... the first with badge access, the second requiring fingerprint authentication. When they made it through, they were officially in SR01.DAL05.

TechStars Cloud Data Center Tour

Josh explained how our data center CRAC units work, how each server row is powered and how we measure and optimize the server room environment. While that aspect of the data center could seem like "blocking and tackling," he talked about our continued quest to improve power efficiency as he shared a few of the innovative approaches we've been testing, and it was clear that the tour understood it to be easier than, "Plug in server. Turn on air conditioner."

TechStars Cloud Data Center Tour

The teams got a chance to get up close and personal (No Touching!) with a server rack, and they learned about our unique network-with-a-network topology that features public, private and out-of-band management functionality. Many "oohs" and "ahhhs" were expressed.

TechStars Cloud Data Center Tour

The tour wrapped up outside of the data center facility in front of the Alpha HQ's Network Operations Center. From here, the TechStars could see how our network team observes and responds to any network-related events, and they could ask questions about anything they saw during the tour (without having to shout over the air conditioning hum).

When the final tour concluded, the full group reconvened in one of our conference rooms. They'd seen the result of our hard work, and we wanted them to know where all that hard work started. Because SoftLayer was started in a Dallas living room a few short years ago, we knew our story would be interesting, inspirational and informative, and we wanted to provide as much guidance as possible to help these soon-to-grow businesses prepare for their own success. After a brief Q&A period, a few of the TechStars Cloud participants (and some of their Dallas-based Tech Wildcatters cousins) presented a little about their businesses and how they've grown and evolved through the TechStars program, and we got to ask our own questions to help them define their business moving forward.

After the presentations at the office, we knew we couldn't just load the bus up to send the teams back to San Antonio ... We had to bid them farewell SoftLayer style. We scheduled a quick detour to SpeedZone Dallas where a few hours of unlimited eats, drinks, games and go-kart races were waiting for them.

We couldn't have had a better time with the participating teams, and we're looking forward to seeing the amazing things they'll continue doing in the near future. If you want to see even more data center coverage from Friday, be sure to check out "TechStars Cloud Visits SoftLayer" on Flickr!

-@PaulFord

April 2, 2012

On Cloud Nine: My First Two Months at SoftLayer

I'm on cloud nine at Softlayer. I know "cloud" is probably the most confusing term I can use about how happy I am to be a SLayer because I'm not talking about public cloud, private cloud, or bare metal cloud, but it seemed like the expression that best fit my mood. Beyond the "cloud" products we make available to our customers, there's a less obvious "cloud" at SoftLayer: What I've come to call "The Employee Cloud Nine."

I joined SoftLayer in January of this year, having worked for my previous employer for around ten years. In my 2+ month tenure, the treatment I've received has been astounding, and I don't need to look beyond my workspace to notice some immediate differences. At my previous job, I had three computers running 2007-version software, one Mac-bell scanner and a printer. At SoftLayer, I feel like I'm in a different world: Two widescreen monitors connected to a super-powerful computer running (gasp) current software. It's like I can say "goodbye" to the old days and hello to the twenty-first century!

Beyond the my immediate workplace surroundings, one of the most important distinctions between SoftLayer and every other place I've worked before is how accepting and friendly the team has been. On my first day, my team (and HR) welcomed me with open arms, and I didn't once feel like "the new employee." It reinforced how joining the team mirrors becoming a part of a family, and I think a lot of that culture has to come from the top of the company. It's clear that SoftLayer values us as employees, and because we feel valued, we're excited to come to work. Employees that are excited to come to work are happier, and happy people interact a lot differently than unhappy people that just go to a job because they have to. It also doesn't hurt that SoftLayer literally invests in every employee when it comes to benefits and insurance.

In this economy, it's hard to find companies that are still dedicated to their employees, so it's even crazier to see how SoftLayer takes "dedicated to their employees" to the extreme: Break areas with all your daily needs such as tea, water, juice, snacks and Sonic Ice. On my second day of employment, the company catered a lunch for the office. Recently, there was a tank/helicopter war ... Where else does that kind of thing happen?

I work in the Accounts Payable department. When I started, the team was beginning a pretty massive system conversion. It ended up going live without a hitch (after a few weeks of long hours). Our entire team (led by our fearless manager, Amanda Bell) celebrated the success of the project, and as a little bonus, our VP of accounting, Robert Burns, gave us a big surprise for all of our hard work (and while I know mentioning that begs the question, "What was it?" I was sworn to secrecy). Upon receiving my surprise, I saw a few of the folks from our executive management team in the hallway, and they mentioned that the smile I had on my face was the one they like seeing on every employee's face. :-)

By that point, I knew I wanted to share my initial experience as a SLayer in the form of a blog, but little did I know I'd have one more piece I'd need to include to paint an even fuller picture of my first two months at SoftLayer. I attended a training session where I learned about the company's history, got a better understanding of our products and services, and heard about even more of the benefits I get for being a SoftLayer employee. And I took a data center tour.

As an AP Administrator, I'm not well versed in the technical side of what SoftLayer does, but when I walked through the data center, I immediately recognized many of the products from vendors I pay on a daily basis. It was nice to be able to match up the name of the products I see on an invoice to an actual device to better understand what the checks are paying for ... That context really reinforced to me how I contribute to SoftLayer's growth and success, so it was a fantastic realization.

What I didn't expect from the training session was a chance to participate in the Server Challenge. While I didn't set any records, I was proud of my 2:42 finishing time, and I gained a whole new level of respect for all the effort that goes into racking and maintaining our servers ... And I'm even more impressed with all of the conference attendees that are able to finish the challenge twice as fast as I did.

I'm two months into my tenure at SoftLayer, and I'm still on cloud nine. If my experience is typical (which I'm sure it is), you'll see SoftLayer at the top of every "Best Places to Work" list for years to come!

-Fabrienne

March 30, 2012

Very Casual Fridays

One of the best things about working at SoftLayer is that we get awesome freebies. In the last year, I have seen a servers given away to authors of the best SoftLayer-themed Haikus, employees have won Apple iPads, solid state drives, extra vacation days, Napa Valley wine tasting trips and finely aged booze in fundraisers for the American Heart Association. On any given day, you'll see people handing out swag, snacks, beverages and catered meals. SLayers can get tickets to Rangers and Cowboys games, we have some great Happy Hour events, and our company parties are legendary. I thought I'd seen it all, but I was given something I never would have expected:

Chris (co-worker): "They gave you a tank?"
Me: "It's not a tank, it's a 1/24th scale REMOTE CONTROLLED BATTLE TANK TYPE 90, and it fires real missiles! I also got a coffee mug with a submerged octopus inside"
Chris: "But why would they gave you a tank?"
Me: "..."

Chris's incredulous tone was not surprising. I'm fairly certain the answer to his last question was not supposed to be, "So I'd bring it into corporate headquarters the next day, break it out around 5:00pm, and explore the (quite impressive) range of the 6mm missiles and their (again, quite impressive) ability to welt my colleagues."

Fast forward a few days, and in the midst of a celebration for the SoftLayer Engineering Team's completion of a recent project roll-out, a 1/24th scale battle erupted. As 20-30 members of the development team looked on (alongside our CTO and a few vice presidents who supplied "refreshments"), a convoy of RC Helicopters and my tank are in an all-out war. The battle tank misfires into a swarm of developers who scatter in chaos, and Chris peers over my cube wall ... "I can't believe they gave you a tank."

In light of those "unanticipated team-building exercises," I decided to jot down a few optimistic suggestions for Lance and the management that came to mind for how we could continue building SoftLayer's culture. Being comfortable and having a fun work environment improves employee productivity and reinforces the investment SoftLayer is making in its people, so we should totally be able to justify these! Here are a few ideas that came to mind (that probably won't cause anyone to loose an eye):

  • Omelet Chef and Bacon Buffet

    It's not just an old wives tale; numerous sources say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What better breakfast than all-you-can-eat crisp bacon and a Denver omelet cooked to order by a professional wearing a toque blanche and masterfully flipping frying pans?

  • Bring your Dog to Work Day Mandatory Policy

    Running home at lunch and/or after work to let out "Diesel" or "Delilah" cuts into employee availability. What's more, dogs in the office raise employee morale, subsequently improving productivity.

  • 3 Bars Logo Bow Ties

    Classier swag ... for the discerning gentleman.

  • Air Hockey, Table Tennis and Foosball Tournaments

    We have a lot of nerds 'round here, and exercise intended to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome can easily look like playing Foosball in slow motion. I propose we re-purpose the SLacker conference room and retrofit it with an arcade in the interest of improving employee health.

  • More Cake

    Forget Wheaties. Cake for breakfast a few days a week would provide a suitable alternative to the aforementioned bacon + omelet combo, and it would help soak up the all the free Frappacinos we drink.

  • Preemptively Remove Brown M&M's from DAL05

    "Welcome to SoftLayer. You're here because you're a rock star." - Lance Crosby, Employee Handbook, Page 1.

    When Van Halen added a blurb about brown M&M's to their tour rider, it wasn't (entirely) to show how awesome they knew they were; it was to quickly ascertain if a venue had read through the contract details ... If there were brown M&M's in the bowl, who knew whether their equipment would have been treated the way it was explained in the contract. Selectively banning certain colors of M&M's would be a great way to show visiting customers and vendors the attention to detail that goes on behind the scenes.

  • SoftLayer-Branded Shirts that Read, "I am a battle tank shooting survivor."

    I'm going to need about three of these ... stat.

If you want to join our team, we're hiring a ton of people right now: SoftLayer Careers ... Given the fact that there are 18 open positions for new SLayers in Dallas, it might be good to stock up on a few extra "Survivor" shirts.

-Nalin

March 12, 2012

Quantifying Culture: From Intern to Full-Time SLayer

I've worked two months as a full-time employee at SoftLayer, but if you were to ask anyone here, they'd say I've been a SLayer for much longer. They're half right. I've been around, but not as a full-time employee. I started my SoftLayer journey as an intern in the summer before what was supposed to be my last full year of college. After that brief glimpse at what working at SoftLayer was like, I made the decision to condense my senior year into one semester (packed with 33 course credits and countless nights spent in the library) to get back to Dallas to sign on as an official SoftLayer employee. You might wonder why someone would give up her senior year of college to get into the working world ... To me it wasn't about "giving something up" as much as it was about "gaining an opportunity" to work for a company that fosters a culture I genuinely love! I literally could not wait to be back.

There are so many stories I could divulge about my time at SoftLayer — from company events with amusing endings to very thoughtful nicknames to a boss who has transformed into a friend and mentor. I'm not sure how many of these stories would be appreciated to a non-SLayer, and even if I tried to share them, I know they wouldn't do SoftLayer's culture justice. Honestly, I cannot make you understand what makes SoftLayer "SoftLayer." It's not just a name on a building ... It's the experience of getting a group of passionate people in a room to create and innovate. When you're surrounded by that atmosphere, you challenge yourself to be better ... And this blog is a testament to that atmosphere.

I would not consider myself a writer, and I was very hesitant to write this blog. This will be my first contribution to The Innerlayer, and writing the first words on a blank canvas is always intimidating. As I sat at my desk, wracking my brain for where to begin, it took all of five minutes for a fellow employee to recognize my struggles, pick up her laptop and come over to my desk with her work to help me turn my thoughts into words. I don't know of many other companies where it would be normal (or even allowed) to literally bring your work station to another person's desk to share time so generously.

An opportunity to join a culture like that is worth a lot more than a lighter course load and a longer senior year. And it's only one of many examples I can think of that happen on a regular basis that make working at SoftLayer so enjoyable.

Immediately after having finished this blog, I realized I wasn't stumped on the idea of writing a blog ... I was trying to decide how to adequately convey what SoftLayer's culture feels like to someone who doesn't get to experience it. I realize it's a matter of comprehending the incomprehensible. All I can tell you is that I don't regret giving up anything by accelerating my senior year. Truth be told, I am learning more here than any classroom, professor or project could have taught me.

Want to join us? There are more than forty available positions at SoftLayer in all of our worldwide locations. What are you waiting for?

-Katie (aka "KornFed" aka "Kansas" aka "Pippa")*

*I told you there were thoughtful nicknames.

January 30, 2012

Three Bars for Life

Working at SoftLayer has its perks, and one of my favorite perks to enjoy over the last three years is the ability to use a week and a half of my vacation time to travel over to Hawaii. I normally visit the Lahaina area on Maui, as I have family over there that operate Lahaina Family Farms. This year, I was able to help them plant hundreds of vetevir plants for irrigation control ... And I also found myself getting a new tattoo.

Before I go any further, I should probably back up and talk about how unique the SoftLayer culture is. In 2010, a few of the SLayers in Dallas got SoftLayer-sponsored tattoos from an artist that visited our headquarters. We have a Facebook album of SoftLayer tattoos that features some of that ink.

I work in SoftLayer's Seattle facility, so I wasn't able to join in on the fun in the Dallas office, but Lance extended the offer to anyone in the company that wanted to get a tattoo. As one of the few guys in Washington that has any ink on my body, I said that if the unofficial SoftLayer tattoo artist would come to Seattle for us, I'd get it done. There wasn't enough demand to justify a trip from Texas, but Lance said I could expense it if I wanted to join the club ... The only requirement was that the tattoo had to incorporate SoftLayer in some way.

I had a few ideas, but nothing struck me as a perfect design for SoftLayer Seattle. When I was in Lahaina, I stopped by and visited Tony, a tattoo artist at Skin Deep Tattoo who did a cover up for me a few years ago. He asked me how work was going, and I started telling him about how much I loved SoftLayer's culture and how the company has grown so substantially in just a few short years ... And he was impressed that we've added eleven more data centers on three different continents in the four years since we expanded from Dallas into Seattle.

I told him about Lance's tattoo offer, and we came up with this amazing SoftLayer Seattle design:

Sehmel Tattoo

I know it's a little crazy to get a work-inspired tattoo, but there aren't many places where you hear people saying things like "Three Bars for Life!" as you walk through the office ... I've just taken "Three Bars for Life" a little more literally in the form of a permanent tattoo. I've had a wonderful last four years, and can't wait for the many more to come.

3BFL!

-Bill

P.S. If you don't love the company you work for this much, you can always join the SoftLayer team. We're growing like crazy, and we're looking to add a lot of SLayers to the crew.

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