Posts Tagged 'Perspective'

July 12, 2012

An Insider's Look at SoftLayer's Growth in Amsterdam

Last week, SoftLayer was featured on the NOS national news here in the Netherlands in a segment that allowed us to tell our story and share how we're settling into our new Amsterdam home. I've only been a SLayer for about nine months now, and as I watched the video, I started to reflect on how far we've come in such a surprisingly short time. Take a second to check it out (don't worry, it's not all in Dutch):

To say that I had to "hit the ground running" when I started at SoftLayer would be an understatement. The day after I got the job, I was on a plane to SoftLayer's Dallas headquarters to meet the team behind the company. To be honest, it was a pretty daunting task, but I was energized at the opportunity to learn about how SoftLayer became largest privately owned hosting company in the world from the people who started it. When I look back at the interview Kevin recorded with me, I'm surprised that I didn't look like a deer in the headlights. At the time, AMS01 was still in the build-out phase, so my tours and meetings in DAL05 were both informative and awe-inspiring.

When I returned to Europe, I was energized to start playing my role in the company's new pursuit of its global goals.

It didn't take long before I started seeing the same awe-inspiring environment take place in our Amsterdam facility ... So much so that I'm convinced that at least a few of the "Go Live Crew" members were superhuman. As it turns out, when you build identical data center pods in every location around the world, you optimize the process and figure out the best ways to efficiently use your time.

By the time the Go Live Crew started packing following the successful (and on-time) launch of AMS01, I started feeling the pressure. The first rows of server racks were already being filled by customers, but the massive data center space seemed impossibly large when I started thinking of how quickly we could fill it. Most of my contacts in Europe were not familiar with the SoftLayer name, and because my assigned region was Europe Middle East and Africa — a HUGE diverse region with many languages, cultures and currencies — I knew I had my work cut out for me.

I thought, "LET'S DO THIS!"

EMEA is home to some of the biggest hosting markets in the world, so my first-week whirlwind tour of Dallas actually set the stage quite nicely for what I'd be doing in the following months: Racking up air miles, jumping onto trains, attending countless trade shows, meeting with press, reaching out to developer communities and corresponding with my fellow SLayers in the US and Asia ... All while managing the day-to-day operations of the Amsterdam office. As I look back at that list, I'm amazed how the team came together to make sure everything got done.

We have come a long way.

As I started writing this blog, BusinessReview Europe published a fantastic piece on SoftLayer in their July 2012 magazine (starting on page 172) that seems to succinctly summarize how we've gotten where we are today: "Innovation Never Sleeps."

BusinessReview Europe

Our first pod is almost full of servers humming and flashing. When we go to tradeshows and conferences throughout Europe, people not only know SoftLayer, many of them are customers with servers in AMS01. That's the kind of change we love.

The best part of my job right now is that our phenomenal success in the past nine months is just a glimmer of what the future holds. Come to think of it, we're going to need some more people.

-@jpwisler

April 14, 2010

The “Truth” (Or Common Sentiments) of Data Center and IT Professionals

In a recent column at searchdatacenter.com there was a list presented regarding the 20 universal truths in the Data Center. It’s a pretty funny list, but as an outsourced, on demand data center services provider, we are often catering to the IT operator’s mentality that resides in these truths. We have a good subset of customers that fall into many of these statements and we are continuously working to address, help, and augment—with the idea to help complete the IT story rather than compete with the IT strategy/needs of our customers… Below, I pulled out a few of the “truths” listed and added Softlayer views of them.

#2 - Upgrading Hardware is cheaper than improving Software – In the Softlayer world our services cater to this theory as a baseline for our offerings. We are constantly allowing customers to ‘right-size’ their compute needs and we are able to do this because of the robust compute offering and the flexible structure embedded in our business model.

#9 – Bandwidth is the same as energy. As more is provided, more is used – We have seen bandwidth usage grow almost threefold over the last 4 years and it’s a result of the internet applications demanding more bandwidth for things like video, voice, etc. Also, linear pricing models allow bandwidth to be less of an unknown and move towards a very predictable usage model.

#14 – It is always costlier and more time-consuming to wait and fix it later – Being able to quickly assess through metrics and functionality reviews, we fully subscribe to if it’s broke, fix it quickly and remove the legacy of the deficiencies. We are all human and will make errors and mistakes and being forward enough to recognize and repair these will continue to ensure your customer, employers, and employees that you have a handle on your business. Have you seen Lance Crosby’s printer stand?

#15 – By the time the CEO has learned enough to ask about a technology, it’s no longer a strategic advantage – My Favorite and have you met Lance Crosby?

#16 Exactly what you want will cost you more that you budget – In the spirit of full disclosure, our CFO, Mike Jones, takes our numbers that we budget for purchases and adds the “actual factor” to it of a +20-30%!!

The list of 20 is well worth the quick read and as I did the first time reading, I would imagine that many of you feel like you could have written this yourself. IT and Data Centers are tough. The goal for all of us is to increase efficiency, reduce costs and ensure that we spend more time moving forward and progressing rather than spending the bulk of our time fixing the past!!

August 27, 2008

Perspective

So…I was just promoted to a management position after serving SoftLayer’s customers as a CSA for 15 months. “Things look different from up here!” Moohahahaaa. Anyway, I find it to be extremely interesting to see how our support works from a new perspective. When you are in the trenches as a CSA, it is very hard to see the big picture as you are on the phone, working diligently on a ticket (or ten tickets), or completing a plethora of other tasks from the moment you arrive for your shift until an hour or so after your shift officially ends most days. You become so involved in the specific issues you are working and the customers with whom you are dealing, you are hard-pressed to step back and see the effect of your team’s efforts on the customers who were served during your shift. Honestly, some days you are simply glad to get to go home and rest your brain for a while. Other days, you leave with a great sense of satisfaction in the fact that you conquered several difficult issues and made a lot of customers, as well as their customers, very happy.

As a manager, you have the privilege of seeing the different talents, abilities, and areas of specialized knowledge of a team of great technicians come together to create an outstanding support department for our customers. As we support such a tremendously wide range of issues, it would be impossible for any one tech, or even two techs, to have all the answers. But, here at SoftLayer, the egos seem to be left at the door and there is a meeting of the minds and a cooperation among peers that may rival the acropolis (well, maybe not…different clothing anyway :P). But seriously, the techs do band together to find resolutions to difficult issues and therefore, a customer can rest assured that the issue is being dealt with by a consortium of scholars, if you will.

Before becoming a part of the management team, I frequently heard my co-workers talk about how nice it was to work in a place that was free from the drudgery of politics in which most work-places are buried. The management team has done a very good job of keeping it down to business and absent of drama and red tape. The opportunities to advance are many as I can attest. Among the CSA teams, there is a sense of purpose and camaraderie that foster the great support that our customer’s enjoy. Of course, it is not mount Olympus (speaking of drama) as no place is perfect, but if you stopped one of SoftLayer’s CSA’s on the street, I’m sure you would find someone who enjoys going to work and serving their customers. The excitement of a fast-growing company with many opportunities for hard-working technicians makes for a positive, success-driven, committed environment. SoftLayer just keeps getting better and better, both for the customers, and the employees.

-David

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