Posts Tagged 'Offices'

October 29, 2011

Coworkers and Divisional Rivals: Football at SoftLayer

Cheering for the hometown team has always been interesting at SoftLayer. With U.S. data centers in Dallas, Houston, Washington DC, Seattle and San Jose, the "home team" varies throughout the organization. It's always fun to talk about games with fans when I'm not invested in the outcome of a game outside my favorite team's division ... And when it comes to the NBA (which no longer has a team in Seattle), it's easy to cheer for the teams that other SLayers are cheering for. When the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Championships, our Dallas techs were going crazy, and their enthusiasm was pretty contagious.

When it comes to NFL football, things are a little different. Prior to the launch of our San Jose facility, supporting each data center's home NFL team with some playful banter was normal. When San Jose came into the mix, that meant we'd have a lot of new employees (Yay!) who are probably going to be fans of my Seahawks' divisional rivals, the San Francisco 49ers (Booo! :-)). Now cheering for games gets a little trickier since we don't want a football-related civil war between offices.

In reality, I'm sure it'll never be an issue, since SLayers are like a big, diverse family ... That being said, I'm glad I wasn't in the office on the Monday after the Seahawks' opening game loss against the 49ers. My California peers would have probably been quick to chat about the game, and I probably wouldn't have wanted to talk about it. It's different for me to have coworkers who are die-hard fans of a rival team due to their geography (and not just because they are a bandwagon fan), and as we keep growing, I'm sure the football support between offices is going to keep getting more and more diverse ... My vote is that we avoid adding a data center in another NFC West rival's market, though.

The interoffice atmosphere is just another reason why I love working for SoftLayer. Our team is so different, but we're united by the common goal of making SoftLayer the best company in the world (for our customers and for our employees). For right now, I'm glad that there aren't as many soccer fans in our halls ... You don't want to see me in my soccer hooligan mode.

-Robert

February 11, 2011

Naming Rights

Anyone out there have a cool billion in cash lying around? If so, call Jerry Jones and you can have the naming rights to Cowboy Stadium. You know the one where they just played the Super Bowl and where they tried to break the all-time attendance record by putting in 20,000 temporary seats? Too bad the contractors that had been working 24/7 for 72 hours walked off the job 3 hours before the game and left 400 paying customers without seats.

With all that bad press, maybe you could get the naming rights for $800K now. If you want to give it a shot, you can send a check made out to SKINMAN C/O SoftLayer, and I'll do my best to get your name on the outside of the stadium ... even if I have to paint it there myself.

SoftLayer has lower rates on our naming rights. When we moved into our new Alpha Road headquarters, we were a little shocked to see how many conference rooms there were. If you've had a chance to see our office space, you probably came to the conclusion that it was designed with mouse/cheese-type mazes in mind. We had to figure out a good way to find things, so we actually decided to pay someone to help us name the conference rooms.

And so the contest began.

We asked all employees and a few outside creative agencies to nominate their favorite conference room themes, and we came up with quite a diverse list: Texas rivers, arcade game names (even though this one had been done before), beer brands, Scotch labels, football teams, colleges, types of Linux, processors names ... The list ended up including around 40 different themes. We voted to narrow down the top 5, and we let the C-levels and Lance make a final choice. The winning theme: Names that were significant in SoftLayer history.

With that direction, a few of us sat down and started thinking about all the things that got us here today. And BAM! conference room names abound.

Recently, our social media ninja gave you a glimpse at the conference rooms and promised that I'd come through and share the etymology of the names ... So here we go:

  • SLales – We tend to turn every word we can SL specific so this is the conference room closest to "sales" and we call is SLales!
  • CBNO – This is our large training room. As you might know by now, CBNO stands for "Challenging But Not Overwhelming." This is our internal mantra. Since the day I started at SoftLayer almost 4 years ago, this has been my life.
  • Geneous – Notice the spelling of "Genius" is incorrect. This is our board room ... There is a great story behind this name, but I have to let Lance tell it. If you want to hear it, leave a comment on this post, and I'll get him to throw together a blog specifically for this one.
  • Unicorn – If you've followed our blog for a while, you know that Sam Fleitman (COO) has been asked over and over to come up with things that just don’t exist. The joke became that he was always producing unicorns, and his office at one time was decorated heavily with they mythical beasts. In the new headquarters, his personal office is off limits (or so he thinks), so we dedicated a conference room to the memory of all the unicorns that have passed away.
  • Automation – Since we live it and breathe it, it was only fair that we name a conference room after it. If we do anything 3 times, someone is looking at automating it.
  • Innovation – We are bleeding edge, and that's the way we like it. This room is a reminder of that mentality.
  • 204A – This conference room is the actual building name for this room. A poor lawyer was stuck in this room right after we moved in, so we assume it is haunted by a phantom that dislikes lawyers. We chose not to name the room in respect for that ghost.
  • SLacker – We had a series of blogs previously that showed a schism in our workforce workforce. I am in the SLacker camp. This room is dedicated to all of us.
  • Pink – We have a certain CFO - who will remain nameless - that always wears pink. This is his personal conference room. It makes him feel special.
  • 3 Bars – Named after the small logo that we all know and love ... and are tattooed with.
  • SLayer – We had to throw the SLayers a bone, so we gave them a room too. Their jealousy of the beautifully named SLacker conference room could have been caustic.
  • Funky Truck – When the company was first starting out, this game almost single handedly stopped all progress. The original ten employees were a bit competitive at times, so this game had them each trying to one-up each other. Luckily they moved on to Facebook games.
  • 05-05-05 – May 5th, 2005 of course.
  • Jeep – Drive through our parking lot, and you'll see the inspiration for this conference room names. Being in Texas, our parking spaces have to accommodate a lot of Jeeps, trucks, SUVs ... and even a Smart Car or two.
  • Muenster – 3 Bars BBQ! It’s almost time. End of April. Muenster, Texas. GermanFest! This is now a long-standing tradition at SoftLayer: Go hang out, have some fun, relax and eat some 3Bars BBQ at the BBQ cookoff.
  • Midway – This room is named nostalgically after the street address of our very first office.
  • Sharkbyte – I don’t like sharks, they scare me. Someone else has to tell you all about this one.

-Skinman

February 7, 2011

That Which We Call a Conference Room ...

As I was walking through the halls of our Dallas office, I happened to pass an door that seemed like an open portal into another dimension. Where you'd expect to finding boxes of cables and keyboards on metal racks, there were a few old wooden trunks lining the walls of the dimly lit space. Naturally, I had to investigate.

As I carefully opened the trunks, to my amazement, I came across loads of books from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Among the apothecary books and alchemy texts, I made an amazing discovery: a few pages of Shakespearean literature that seem to have been written anachronistically about SoftLayer Alpha headquarters:

'Tis but thy name that is my mystery;
Thou art thyself, though not a meeting room.
What's a meeting room? It is not hand nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? That which we call a conference room
By any other name would be as productive;
So Sharkbyte would, were it not called Sharkbyte call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which it owes
Without that title. Sharkbyte, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Host productive meetings.

Now I'm not suggesting that Bill Shakespeare set out to write an epic play about our facility that just wound up being Romeo and Juliet, but since the date in the corner of one of the pages was "1593," I wouldn't be surprised. In a flash of clairvoyance, he saw into the future and puzzled over the curious names outside each of our conference rooms ... Only to come to the conclusion that while the names didn't define the rooms, those rooms would still be phenomenally productive.

Switch a few words in that original text, and you've got yourself one of the most famous scenes in Romeo and Juliet. No big deal.

What were these curious names? See for yourself:

SLayer, SLacker, Unicorn, 3 Bars, 204A, Funky Truck ... The narrative wasn't clear to him at the time, but they all have a special meaning and fit into a bigger plan. Here is a full list of the Alpha conference room names:

  • SLales
  • CBNO
  • Geneous
  • Unicorn
  • Automation
  • Innovation
  • 204A
  • SLacker
  • Pink
  • 3 Bars
  • SLayer
  • Funky Truck
  • 05-05-05
  • Muenster
  • Midway
  • Sharkbyte

Flex your own ESP muscles and post a comment with what you think each of the names means.

We'll reward the most creative responses (and the most accurate responses) with SoftLayer swag of your choice, and in a few days, SKinman will post the real reasons behind all of the names.

-@khazard

January 25, 2011

Free Sodas: A Perk of Becoming a SLayer

Unless you've taken up residence under a proverbial rock, you know that we have had some changes over the last few months. The dust is beginning to settle after the merger, and the future has never looked brighter. When we said, "Bigger, Better, Badder" ... We meant it! We've hit the ground running and we need of a few more people to come along for the ride. We pride ourselves on finding the best talent to join our team. A quick search of the web and you will find more than one article worth tooting our horn about including:

The list goes on, but under the pretense of humbleness, I will stop there. With all the growth and expansion it's only natural that the number of SoftLayer job postings has been increasing. We are poised for success and invite you to come see what we have to offer.

As mentioned in the title, free sodas are a cool perk, but we offer so much more. Here are just a few other things to consider:

  • Medical and Dental Insurance
  • 401K – company matching after only 90 days of employment
  • Life, AD&D, short and long term disability at no charge to the employee
  • Free snacks/sodas in all of our offices
  • PTO and company Holidays
  • The ability to update your Facebook profile to show that you are employed at SoftLayer Technologies

Take a moment to peruse the job listings at http://www.softlayer.com/about/careers/ and see what your next career could be. You can apply online in a matter of minutes. Check back often, as we are on our way to being the Biggest, Bestest, Baddest!

-Tracy

Categories: 
January 6, 2011

All New Everything

Just about 4 months ago we (former Planeteers) received word that we would soon be moving to a new, shiny and bright office located in North Dallas. Most responses were mixed: What does it look like? Where will I sit? Will the drinks still be cheap? What kind of coffee do they have? You know those types of questions... The "important" ones.

As the days counted down, the anticipation grew stronger. The weather outside grew colder, and the speculation about what was to be expected was roaring like a wild fire. I heard rumors of sitting in cages and construction areas and discussions about ambient office temperatures varying from "polar bear toenails" cold to "Texas July" hot all year long. It was more than a little nerve-rracking.

Finally, big-move Friday was here. I remember it like it was two months ago.

Everything that you owned and accumulated since day one had to be stuffed into a bright reddish-orange plastic crate. For me, that meant more than six years of stuff. We’re talking about documents, paperwork, chotchkies, reports, printed pdf’s, business cards, pens, technology briefs and even a few magazines. Somehow, I managed to get it all in one crate.

Movers were scheduled to arrive at our Stemmons office at 4 PM to start moving computers, phones and anything else we left on our desks. Watching them do this brought a sort of sadness because I knew that the move that we had all been anticipating was really happening. I couldn't help but think about all the years in this office, the memories and changes I was part of.

Needless to say, that lull only lasted for a few hours. I was ready for something new, something fresh: New paint, new floors, new things to learn. In two days, a lot of things were going to be different and I was ready for them. I was so ready that I actually showed up a day early just to get the lay of the land and nothing could have prepared me for what was in store.

We're talking about three buildings totaling over 120,000 square feet. I think I have counted over 20 conference rooms that are all outfitted with meeting necessary amenities. There are somewhere in the ball park of ten coffee machines with over forty different flavors of tea and coffee. I found twelve refrigerators filled to the brim with soda, green tea and Monster (the number one drink of techies). Also, during my travels, I saw at least eight water coolers, a "Sonic" ice machine, three sizes of cups and a healthy supply of my favorite Welch’s fruit snacks! This is, of course, the "important" stuff as I mentioned before.

Oh and I guess it's worth mentioning that there's a data center here as well. Soon to be three pods located right here in our HQ with 5,000 servers each and the most advanced network you have ever seen. You need gigabit? You've got it! You need 2 gigabit? OK, no problem. You need 10 gigabit? Of course. We'll have it for you in less than four hours. You want forty-five cloud servers and three dedicated servers for your MS SQL cluster with private communication between them, iSCSI and SAN replication to Washington DC with a single portal to manage all cloud instances and servers? That's a piece of cake. You want us to deploy a pod in southern California? We'll put that on our expansion roadmap [*EDIT: See Below]. You want out of band management, VPN with every account, multiple Internet backbones, and back-haul between cities for inter-city communication? Check, check, check and yep, you guessed it, Check!

I'm sixty-days old at SoftLayer, and I'm still learning new and exciting things about our infamous platform. I also still use our n00b's guide - the office map that we were provided with upon our arrival to our new office - to find people, conference rooms and printers.

It’s a new year and SoftLayer has taken on a wealth of new talent, building new DC pods concurrently in different cities while continuing to offer new features and products. With Lance at the helm, this re-born company will keep growing at alarming rates in 2011!

-Harold

P.S. Before I wrap this up, I would be remiss if I didn't note that I found one of those pre-move speculations to be true: It is colder than a polar bear's toenails in here. If you ever decide to visit, even in the heat of the Texas summer, bring a parka ... You will need it!

*EDIT: The original post said "No Problem," which was a little flippant. A lot of time, research and investment go into choosing where our next pods will come online. Right now, we're turning up pods in San Jose and Amsterdam, and if a lot of customers call for SoCal to be next, that'll definitely play into the decision-making process. In the meantime, we have a network point of presence in Los Angeles which makes all of our data centers screamingly accessible from SoCal.

November 25, 2010

Introducing B3

The last 2 months have been full of surprises and a little stressful for all employees involved. The Planet and Softlayer have been merged into a giant, yet powerful organization. SoftLayer’s CEO Lance Crosby has taken control and he has been very clear on his vision. Yesterday in Houston was “Introduction to Softlayer” and Lance was very open seems to be a person who holds no punches. He stated the vision and path the company has chosen and gave us an overview of what it takes to be the leading IaaS provider.

During our 2.5 hour meeting Lance was clear and to the point on how his "family" is growing and I agree this will feel like a very large family soon. Lance gave us an open forum and the ability to throw out any question we saw fit, and we did with no holds barred. He never once dodged a question, he just answered them. This is how Softlayer is and will continue to be, we will be straight shooters to you and all our customers alike. This is what makes me excited to be part of Lance's team.

We covered everything from upcoming services to be offered, to a global footprint being key. He said sales and support need to follow the sun; so no matter where you are in the world you will have the same level of support. He talked about how the "family members" are the driving forces with new innovations and bleeding edge technology. Where else can you be told your hardware will be ready in 4 hours. (Rackspace, I say nay). So our competition needs to look out because we will not be touched, why?

Because, we are BIGGER BETTER BADDER!

-Lee

October 28, 2010

Settling In

One of the small thrills in life is settling into a new house. While moving can be stressful, once you get settled into your place, there’s a certain feeling of pride associated with the new move. In the not-too-distant past our staff moved over to the new corporate headquarters in Dallas. Given, there’s the obvious unpacking and exploring every nook and cranny. Once you get settled in, though, set up all your stuff, and explore every corner of the new place, you can finally hang your name on the mailbox and call it your own.

It’s a far cry from our previous space (equate it to moving from a decent apartment, to a squeaky clean new house, full of nifty bells and whistles). We’ve got a brand new A/C system (that works almost too well in the opinion of some), a sonic-style ice machine, and room for three new datacenter pods. We’ve got coffee makers in almost every department (what’s a large scale data provider without caffeine). We’ve got a nifty display in the NOC that gives us an at-a-glance idea of what’s going on within our network. That’s just a few of the things. Ask anyone in our new “house” and they’ll tell you they like the new digs.

I’ve gotten fairly well settled in, and am starting to fall into my new daily routine at the new home. Admittedly I got lost the first few days, but now I can navigate with a fairly reliable degree of certainty. I can locate the coffee machines blindfolded as well. I’m also enjoying the privilege of working so closely with our other departments, now that we’re all housed in the same location. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what the future has to offer in our new home.

-Matthew

October 21, 2010

The Same - But Different

I recently moved from the DAL01 Datacenter to the DAL05 Datacenter. At first glance, everything is the same. I jump on the freeway and drive to a big building, say hello to the onsite security. I go into my work area, do the same job (Server Build Engineer), and bug the same coworkers. Everything appears to be the same, but there are a few differences.

A couple of differences are my daily tasks. Not my work related tasks, but my get to work and get situated tasks. The commute to work is better, less traffic and less freeways to merge over to. When I get to work my normal ritual is to find caffeine to regulate my mood (Yep, my addiction is that bad!). These days if a Red Bull in the OPs fridge isn’t cold yet, or we ran out of my favorite coffee flavor near the OPs coffee machine, I have a third option, I can go scour the Networking or Development or better yet SLales fridges and coffee machines! Nothing feels better than going into work and taking a SLales Red Bull or a Development cup of coffee. :)

A few other differences are the level of communication. I no longer have to use my Blackberry, desk phone, instant messenger or email as a means of communications with other departments. I can now walk over to the Networking area to bug those guys with questions, or find sales to get clarification on an order. In fact, I might even get some of them to assist me in big orders from now on!

In the end though, everything is the same. Same level of awesome service, speed and attention to detail!

-Timothy

Categories: 
August 2, 2010

Cold

So here I am at the new “SoftLayer Global HQ” on Alpha Road in Dallas that we moved into last Monday, July 12th. We had a very warm welcome; our landlords catered bagels, pastries, and fruit for breakfast that day, and they also provided Maggiano’s for lunch (I’m still in need of lasagna detox).

Another thing that was (and still is, and will unfortunately be for a while) warm is the weather outside. Blisteringly hot, actually. Also, our new office space is huge compared to the one we just moved from. Being the only residents in our building, we have lots of room for growth (and we will definitely grow). As a result, most of the departments that were nestled right in next to each other at the “horseshoe” location in Plano are now isolated from each other and separated by light-years of deep space (the ridiculously huge spaces between galaxies) in the name of room for future growth. If I were a scientist, I would probably now make up some cool, true analogy derived from real data for someone to understand how vast deep space is, (you know, like saying the Earth and the Sun’s relative sizes are like a pea and a soccer ball or something like that), but I’m not a scientist; I’m a summer intern who classifies transactions all day, so I’ll just read Wikipedia and then say that it’s just huge and that there’s nothing there except random bits of energy and this theoretical weird stuff called “dark” matter and “dark” energy. Stuff like that is what’s separating the Accounting department from certain amenities such as the front door, the main café…oh, and our CFO and VP. But who cares about them, because it’s not like we work for them or anything.

Trivia question! What is uncomfortable about deep space? It’s really, really, really, incredibly cold. You pretty much don’t want to go there, at all, ever. I don’t care how cold the DC and Seattle guys say it is where they live compared to Dallas; compared to deep space, even Siberia would feel like Death Valley. What’s the temperature? Infinitesimally close to absolute zero. What is absolute zero? It’s the lowest temperature theorized to exist, and while no one has ever measured something with this temperature because it’s nearly impossible to do so, it’s highly likely that this theory is true. What is the scientific definition of temperature? Temperature is just the measurement of the effect of thermal energy (heat) on the movement of matter. Heat gives things kinetic energy (which makes them move), and we measure the average kinetic energy of a set of particles and call that the temperature. Imagine particles of matter as zillions of microscopic foam balls in a large pot. If the pot is held still or nearly still (a low temperature), it appears as a solid. As more heat is present, the pot shakes more and more, and if there were zillions of microscopic balls, at a certain temperature it would appear to you that there was a liquid in the pot rather than a solid because the heat was giving the particles more kinetic energy to the point where they were moving so much they began to flow like a liquid (melting). And if it shook so much that the balls flew out of the pot, it would appear as a gas. Absolute zero is the theoretical temperature where there is a complete absence of thermal energy (a completely still pot). Well, you know about the Celsius scale, right? Water freezes at zero and boils at one hundred degrees Celsius. In 1848 a scientist named William Thomson, however better known as Lord Kelvin, got lazy (or innovative, who knows) and made up a new scale where absolute zero, was, in fact, zero. Absolute zero is located at about negative 273 degrees Celsius, or zero Kelvins. So deep space is cold and dark.

Now that I’m done rambling, what do deep space (which as established above, is cold and dark) and SoftLayer have in common? Both! Apparently the warm temperatures outside were slightly winning in the battle against the air conditioners on Monday (just a simple calibration issue), so a few people in my sector of the galaxy politely requested a slight temperature adjustment to cool down the office just a tiny bit. The result was an Antarctic chill of biblical proportions that plummeted the office temperature close to that of absolute zero. I’m not kidding. I’m now sitting in my cube typing this blog extremely slowly, because as I explained earlier, you can’t exactly move very well at deep space temperatures. I’m dreaming of a pair of astronaut gloves while wearing a sweater I found in my car that I had during the winter. So that’s the cold part. Well, for the dark part, among other slight issues that can be expected upon a new office location that is still not completely finished, we encountered one that prevented Bryan Chamberlain (my boss) from having lights in his office. Apparently the motion sensor that turns them on is not communicating with the power grid, and so a new part has to be ordered and replaced during off-hours. Congratulations, Bryan, you now have two things in common with interstellar space. However the moral of the story is, cold places are great for housing heat-producing servers.

And Wikipedia makes me sound really smart.

Categories: 
November 25, 2009

The Secret Mind of a SoftLayer Tech

I sit right in the middle of the NOC (Network Operations Center) here at SoftLayer. I hear all the tech calls, project discussion, and random banter from the techs on a daily basis. Most techs are also propeller heads on their own time. They have servers of their own, apps they like to run, preferences as to what hardware and software they like best, etc. Now, working in this field for most of my life I know that techs are not company loyal when it comes to their personal geeky funness (yes, that’s a word) I don’t care if spell check, Google and the rest of the world doesn’t think so (but I digress) they like what does the best job regardless of where it comes from.

I routinely hear techs talking about their personal servers, apps, etc. and referring back to SoftLayer with comments like, “I just host it on my server here at SoftLayer so I don’t have an issue.” With the issue being whatever the topic of conversation might have been. Network speed and stability, hardware and software reliability, ease of access (KVM over IP, the portal in general, multiple remote control options) cost, endless amount of add-ons, and the latest and greatest in everything!

I can relate.

I realized the potential of SoftLayer from the beginning and this place continues to exceed my expectations- and my expectations are always over the top! Simply put, after working in the corporate world and realizing what could be done with the right people and the right attitudes, I vowed only to work with a company that shared those views. And quite honestly I never thought I would see it happen. Then along came SoftLayer.

When techs constantly refer back to SoftLayer for their own fun computer projects as being the best solution, it just confirms what I already knew:

SoftLayer Rocks!

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