Posts Tagged 'Offices'

April 29, 2009

Musician's Mind

One thing I have noticed about my SoftLayer family is the number of musicians here. I spent nine years as a musician, working the bar/festival circuits all over the midwest. When I arrived at SoftLayer, people jokingly asked if I was joining the SoftLayer band due to my previous experience. Just looking at the Operations Management Team, most of us have written/performed and many continue to. The more I thought about it, I think that this is a good thing.

There have been a number of scientific research projects about the academic performance of children and teens who are involved in a music program at school. The mixed left/right brain activity of music lends itself to problem solving and critical thinking as well as creativity which are required by many jobs. A musician's mind is capable of working complex geometric patterns into physical movements in coordination with muscle memory. Once more advanced levels are reached, a musician is capable of not only composing music, but also improvisation. These aspects are similar to many necessary thought processes used in the office.

I'd like to think that these mental processes allow me to think better on my feet, deal with change, and have a global view of the projects that I am involved with. Maybe that's why our Inventory, Hardware, & 2/5 Datacenter Managers are musicians. Not only that, but our Director of Operations is an avid musician. If you count the actual system admins who are musical, then you would be adding another 3 people.

So if all the research is correct, this may have something to do with the quality of operations here at SoftLayer. I wonder if being a musician had anything to do with my interview and its result. I know that it would catch my attention knowing that an applicant had experience with music or any other analytical/creative endeavor, especially if it has been shown to improve overall performance or intelligence.

Maybe I should write a SoftLayer song - an anthem to our Datacenter or a love song about the management network and IPMI?

October 14, 2008

The Great Debate: SLayers

SLayers!

Welcome to The Great Debate: Part Deux. The SLayer blog. It is really going to be hard for me to complete this one as I am a SLacker by heart. After my previous blog I found that there might be more SLayers than I thought or so I have been told. All the SLales folks seem to be SLayers. I think they like to believe with their mad skills they can SLay the competition, quite like SoftLayer does as a whole. Some people just don’t want to be associated with the term SLacker because of the unbeknownst to me negative connotation. Who would have thought being a SLacker could be a bad thing. All this SLacking we do around here is great but this blog is about the darn SLayers we have around here.

The SLayers are an interesting bunch; take Doug Jackson in SLales for instance, he is your typical college educated frat boy jock. The bad part is I am not sure if we was in a frat or not, but I would put my money on it that he was. He is a SLayer to the core. He likes getting customers the best deal for their money and the technology they need to succeed. He also has a deep SLayer desire to succeed himself and is the master at the VFB and other moves. Would you expect anything less from a “Type A” super SLales guy who I am guessing spends at least 24 minutes a day on his hair style alone? I wouldn’t.

In our new STAT (SoftLayer Technical Assurance Team) group we have Justin Scott, he is also a SLayer. Ok, I pressed him a little on this and he claims he is a SLacker striving to be s SLayer. Not sure why he would want to switch his stance but it could be that he thinks it makes him tougher to be a SLayer. I just don’t see the thought process there but he is always thinking way outside of the box I tend to live in. I mean, who takes a perfectly good truck and guts it and puts all electric stuff in it to make it go. I guess you could say he is SLaying those gas prices with his electric dreams. Justin’s outside the box thinking is what makes him great for STAT and our customers. If you have a tricky technological nightmare in need of a solution, he can get it SLayed!

We really do have SLayers in every group in Development, Accounting, etc. In the NOC we have SLayers that are Slayer fans and then others that are Slayers fans! That is a quite a range if you ask me.

The great thing about SoftLayer is that be you a SLacker, SLayer, or even a SLoser (like Don) :-) everyone is a team and welcome to come here and show off their smarts! If you are interested in finding out more about our opportunities send your resume to us, but be sure to tell us up front if you are a SLacker or a SLayer!

I am Skinman, and I approve this message.

-Skinman

Categories: 
September 28, 2008

The Great Debate: SLackers

At SoftLayer we have long been calling each other names (TRUST ME!). There are two that we tend to greet each other with as we walk the halls. You can either throw out “SLacker” or “SLayer”. Why you ask?

If you are an avid fan of all things SoftLayer, the Facebook page, the forums, and The Innerlayer, then by now you have heard the term SLales. We have lots of “SL” terminology here. There is the SLiki, the support wiki, there is the fantasy football league run by operations called SLoperations and the not as popular SLupport team (SLupport is a tongue twister it seems). So along those lines both terms seem to fit nicely.

When I started this blog I decided that I would ask around to see what everyone preferred and you would be amazed, it is about 50/50. The most interesting part is the loud and proud way you receive the response and it is often accompanied by the VFB, an elbow or maybe by the person “throwing three bars”!

Three Bars

I do have to point out that HR gave the canned “no comment” answer, so I will leave it at that, HR is always so professional. So let’s begin the debate and dive into the differences in a two part series. Today we will discuss the SLackers.

Every company has their fair share of Slackers but at SoftLayer we have SLackers! The difference you ask? SLackers are everything SoftLayer. They eat and breathe SoftLayer. They are SLackers to the core. They love to work hard, drink caffeine, work a little more, and play around at the office quite a bit. I would dare say that if you visited our offices or our data centers today you would see more smiles than you have in a while. They crack jokes, and make fun of each other, they blog about each other and the goofiness that they get themselves into and it makes work seem like play. They do that and at the same time respect each other and understand that they are surrounded by some of the best and brightest in this industry and in each individual department as well. They do all of this SLacking for you, the customer!

If you have seen the movie Slackers then take the passion those characters had for slacking off and their passion for beating the system, reverse it, and then apply it to 100% customer satisfaction and you will begin to understand how much they love to SLack! Everything they do is for the customer. If you ever feel like they have done something in error please let any one of them know however you can and they will do their best to take care of you with the utmost SLack.

Our culture might be the coolest around and the best part is we don’t have to talk about it, have endless meetings about it, advertise it, and beg people to drink the SLacker punch like some companies, it just happens. We have fun. We work hard. And we SLack off as much as we can for every customer. You can tell by my blogs that I am one of them; a Red and Black blooded SLacker and I am very proud of that fact.

It is now time for me to quit goofing off writing blogs and get back to SLackin! Next up, The SLayers!

-Skinman

Categories: 
September 24, 2008

Fantasy Football

Football season is BACK!!! I know that not all of our customers really care or keep up with what is going on in the National Football League…. But I DO!  Along with this comes the hobby/obsession with Fantasy Football.  I will admit that I myself am a fantasy junkie, a nerd, but also a king.  While I am not very involved in the MySpace community and only slightly in the LinkedIn community I am proud to be a member of the vast and consistently growing FFL community. 

(Note: you can check out our SL Facebook world at http://www.facebook.com/SoftLayer

We have been able to form an office Fantasy Football League that consists of Accounting, Development, Marketing, and SLales staff are all involved.  We have called the league the Fantasy Layer, and many of us have our teams named after characters or minor points from the movie “Office Space”.  Characters like Milton, Lumbergh, and Lawrence (the guy who lives next door that you can hear through the wall) to simple things like the red swingline stapler and the fax machine that never works are all involved in some pretty creative team names.

60% of our league has never played before and this is their first crack at it ever.  Even though we are only one week into the season there has already been a lot of entertainment based on the name of our league alone.  If I can help it there may be a good deal of trash talk coming very soon.

Like with most internet communities you can put endless amounts of time into fantasy football leagues, or very little.  I have put a good deal of my off time into researching the teams I have put together this year and I feel confident about them.  Even more rewarding is that the efforts I have made are not only to my benefit, but Michael Miller has directly made use of my research and through him even my own Vice President (Steven Canale) was able to benefit second hand.  I am happy to say that we have all gotten off on the right foot and are dominating our leagues so far.  

Note: When I say dominating I don’t mind beating my chest a little bit in telling the rest of my league that “This is the greatest team ever assembled, and I will teach you the meaning of the word Fear”.

And now coming back down to earth…

Fantasy Football is completely hit or miss.  I get it.  I used to be a complete cynic before seeing the light by getting involved.  Still even though this type of thing isn’t for everyone (nor is it meant to be) it is a good example of how the internet has grown in the past couple of years.  The internet and internet based communities have moved beyond the realm of the stereotypical geeks and created entire new geek realms bringing us all closer together.  For some, these types of on line communities are the only reason that they even log on to the internet or have any reason to associate with it.  The thing that seems to continually tie new people into the fold are the common interests and sharing of information.  I know that if we continue to share what we have found in our own experiences we will continue to attract more people to be a part of what we are involved in ourselves. 

I encourage everyone to share and invite new people to be a part of what they already know and involved in, but for now I am just looking forward to Week 2 of the NFL season.

-Doug

Categories: 
September 8, 2008

Meat SoftLayer

It has been a bit since I last “bloghogged” so I figured it was time to see what I could come up with. There is just so much going on in the world that I am not sure I can control myself and keep my blog on topic. You have all seen it in the past where I go from topic to topic and then finally wrap it all up with nonsense in the end. I can only assume this one will be the same.

My choices are the Olympics and how they turned out, politics, servers, outsourcing of course, customer service, 4-year old flag football, or meat. It is a tough choice but I think this one just has to be about meat.

The SoftLayer corporate offices are really close, I dare say too close, to a little place called Rafain. Warning, if you click the link you will get hungry. In case you haven’t ever been to a Brazilian Steakhouse (Churrascaria) then you might want to consider finding one close to you and giving it a shot. It is servers, the human ones, walking around with 7 to 15 types of grilled meat on long metal skewers holding big sharp knives. They slice the meat of your choice off and it lands on your plate. It’s the point and click of steakhouses. Instant steakification! You can of course choose to eat fillers along the way starting with salad, or great little cheese rolls and you are also offered mashed potatoes and fried bananas. Some people eat that stuff but I go straight for the money meat. Beef! Lots of beef. There is Spicy Beef, Garlic Beef, Top Sirloin, Flank, and the house special. They are always hot and fresh off the grill. They have other meats like chicken, pork, leg of lamb, and sausage but you can get those anywhere. As our CEO would say, “If a meat is low fat by design, there is no point in eating it!”

How is the service you ask? Amazing. You have a small card that is red on one side and green on the other. If you have it on the green side they will keep offering you meat until you explode or you get smart and turn the card to red. Red means, “I am taking a small break in the action but far from done!” The real fun is when they bring you a clean plate and you suddenly forget that you are about to fall out of your chair and need assistance to get back in it and start all over and eat more.

Here is where the stretch begins. How am I going to tie this into SoftLayer and outsourcing and why we are the best at what we do? Well, I’m not. This blog is simply about Meat.

Ok, last funny story. A few of the crew here at SoftLayer worked together back in the early 90’s, general ISP technical support stuff. We worked long shifts and usually ate at our desks. We would occasionally sneak out and go to a local Chinese Buffet but we were on a serious time crunch. We could eat 4 or 5 plates of food in 10 minutes easily. We came up with a term we still use today, CPM (Calories Per Minute). We had fun little sayings like, “The CPM’s were very high that day my friend” (thanks Seinfeld!) and many others like it. I can only assume that the Chinese buffet, as far as calories are concerned, would still beat out “instant steakification” on the CPM scale, but I can assure you we would need a couple of SoftLayer servers and some serious Excel equations to figure out the numbers.

Eat less Chicken!

-Skinman

Categories: 
March 3, 2008

I'm NOC Gonna Get Sick!

**Cough, cough, sniffle, sniffle, hack hack**

These are the famous noises that come from the NOC every so often. I swore and swore that I wouldn't get sick. To be honest, there was something going around about four months ago, and I was just about the only one that didn't get sick, and I was King-of-the-NOC!

Not this time.

Emails were sent out -- "Clean your workstations -- wash your hands -- don't throw your used Kleenex tissues at other NOC personnel -- and for the love of God, don't get sick". Oops. So, one by one, each NOC technician started getting sick. One down, two down, three down…

Then it hit me.

You know how it starts, don't act dumb. It all starts with that sore throat, that isn't that sore, but makes you wonder if you're getting sick, and everything ends up becoming a psychological battle of "do's and don'ts" to get better, before you get any worse. It never works. You start feeling that sore throat, which gets worse as every hour goes by, as you start overdosing on Vitamin C drops/pills. Then you think, "I don't just need Vitamin C, right!?" So, then you did around the infamous Softlayer NOC Pharmacy, and start overdosing on off-brand multivitamin, Centrum wanna-be's**.

Things get worse.

So, by the end of the shift, your throat feels like it's on fire. You have to make a Wal-Mart run at 12am in the morning (depending on your shift), and you buy every little piece of medicine you think you might need to make life better while you are…Sick.

So, for a few days, you end up chugging cough syrup, feeding on Centrum wanna-be's, Vitamin C pills/drops, Halls Mentho-lyptus "Mountain Menthol" cough drops, Airborne Formula (more on this later)...and VITAMIN GUMBALLS!!

That's right, folks. We have vitamin gumballs, and they are GROSS! The pink one is okay, probably the best out of them all, but it still taste like rubber. Ugh. Now, as for the Airborne Formula, I just don't trust it. I mean, people say it's GREAT, however, I need proof. I mean, come on, it was created by a second grade teacher. Was this teacher a doctor before he/she decided to actually teach kids multiplication? Think people. Think.

Overall, most of us in the NOC got sick, including me. I'm just now getting over this, while I still fight off a tickle cough, but I’m sure this will never be the end. So folks, keep taking that Vitamin C and that Centrum wanna-be, and don’t get sick. I’m sure next time I’m NOC gonna get sick!

** Centrum Wanna-be is what I call Off-Brand (Equate) Multivitamin Tablets.

-Drew

January 31, 2008

SL Headquarters

Life at our Corporate Headquarters can get a bit weird at times but is never short on fun. Every day I get to pass the Ferrari Dealership of Dallas on the way to work, often times there are a few whizzing on by my Honda, much to my envy.

When I get into the office where Corporate is located in North Dallas I sit in my cube with Superman as my sidekick and go to work. Sitting on my row is Daniel the gadget guy, Doug who never stops talking (ever), and Mary who manages to receive at least one package a day from various vendors even if she is not here - how she does that I will never know. In the next row sits Amanda from The 'Ville, Laude the Kung-Fu Legend and Patty Mac-Patty Mac. While wheeling and dealing sales on our services we are always yelling over each other at what, when and where we are selling for coordination of product placement and inventory updates, it's very much like the floor at the NYMEX, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

So there we sit, 12+ hours a day in our nice massage chairs shouting at each other like heathens. Did I mention the story on the massage chairs? Daniel being the gadget guy that he is was always raving about how cool it would be to get office chairs that massage you while you sit there and work. So Lance made it one of our Sales incentives that month that if we hit, we all get massage chairs. We of course hit our team goal and now there is a general low humming from the chairs that resonate from the Sales section of the office - along with the yelling and screaming of course. More from Amanda on our cool new chairs.

Now we share this office building with several other companies and I would estimate that there are around 100+ people at any given time in this building. The restroom here has two stalls - you do the math. It gets quite interesting at times but at least they have elevator music playing in there. I guess.

After my day is over I like to go around and talk to co-workers to catch up on things. Then it's off past the dealership to my home for some more clicking away at my keyboard to tie up some loose ends from work and some much needed rest. And tomorrow I get to see some more Ferraris - how cool is that?

-Michael # 1

January 14, 2008

Growth is a Good Thing. No Really.

The high-pitched whine of a drill sends a shiver down my spine. I jump a little in my seat at a loud bang followed by shuffling feet and mumbled voices. I involuntarily cower at the unmistakable sound of a saw blade spinning—gaining momentum—biting. Nope, I'm not sitting in a theater watching Eli Roth's next installment in the Hostel franchise. In fact, I'm at the office.

That's right. I'm sitting at my desk. Sitting at my desk and trying hard to ignore the plethora of singing power tools and crooning contractors who for the last two months have been busy putting up dry wall, wiring electrical outlets, installing locks, and occasionally setting off the fire alarm. It's the sound of growth. And at the risk of conjuring up images of bad 80's haircuts, guys in jeans way-too-tight, and shirts where the collars just wouldn't seem to stay down-- one might dare refer to the ruckus as "growing pains".

Make no mistake about it, growing is painful. Take it from me. I think I was 19 before I managed to grow enough facial hair to require the use of a razor. Combine that tidbit of info with the fact that I had every 8-bit computer known to man proudly on display in my room right next to my impressive collection of latex Hollywood style monster masks and you'll start to get the picture. Growing requires a lot of work and allows almost no planning as humans have a habit of blossoming in their own sweet time. Companies are no different.

So while management did everything possible to make the required building expansion as unobtrusive as possible, well, it's still construction work within earshot of a whole team of developers, technicians, and engineers. That's just the way it is. And while I may complain about the noise and distractions now and again, there is also something very comforting about knowing that I am working at a place that is growing. Growing phenomenally, in a time when not all technology companies are fairing so well.

When the dust settles there will be a lot of new space.

More space means a lot of new hires. More space means more opportunity for existing employees. And yes, more space means more work for everyone involved. Having worked for three failed ventures in as many years, I can tell you I am more than happy to be putting my time and effort and energies into something that is successful; something that continues to be more successful every day. It feels good to be on the winning team for a change. Hearing what some of the other engineers here are saying I don't think I'm alone in that sentiment.

That's not to say I'll miss the noise when the construction is all said and done. Which in case you are interested sounds to be winding down. As for SoftLayer, well something tells me we are just getting started.

-William

Categories: 
January 10, 2008

SL "Spa"

SoftLayer Sales Office = SoftLayer Med Spa & Wellness Center

It takes a lot to be a SoftLayer sales representative. We sit long hours at our desks staring at the computer screen. I should probably attribute this to the reason I cannot stand more than 4 feet away from the microwave at home, if I want to be able to tell what time it is by its digital clock. Sitting at a computer for a miminum of 10 hours per day, and a minimum of 5 days per week can really create stress and tension on your shoulders and back. Well, thank goodness Lance, Steven, and Mike are here to help. Around September 21st, a sales incentive came our way that would change our sales office forever. If we reached a certain goal, we would all receive comfy, cushiony, vibrating massage chairs for each of our desks. And being the *excellent* little sales team that we are, of course we received the prize. The funny thing about it is, they are quite loud. So you know when one of us is "getting our massage on," as Doug Jackson likes to put it. Respectively, we have to turn them off when answering the phones. No customer wants to hear, "H-h-h-h-h-e-e-e-l-l-l-oooo, S-o-f-t-L-a-y-e-r S-s-s-a-a-l-e-ssss...."

The SoftLayer Med Spa comes with other services as well. We all sit in a very close range to one another. This leads to all sorts of possible problems, in regard to spreading colds, etc. On any given day you might find myself or Michael Miller stealing Daniel's Airborn or Mary Hall bringing in cough drops for everyone "just because." Basically, you can always find the cure and remedy you need in one cubicle or another. It has always been a huge mystery as to why Daniel has Febreeze and Lysol at his desk. I like to think he is spreading the love, and expanding our wellness center. "THANKS, DANNY!"

As you can see, we are very well taken care of. The healthier we are, the more time is spent helping our beloved customers!

-Amanda

July 13, 2007

Movin' on Up!

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

Office # 1:

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

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

Office #2 (current office):

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

Office #3:

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

-Amanda

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