It’s time for the latest and greatest Under the Infrastructure! We’ll be honest: introducing you to our crew always gets us exclamation-point excited. (Sorry we’re not sorry.)
Up next is a chat with Jonathan Wisler, EMEA regional sales director in our (bursting at the seams) Amsterdam office. He’s originally from California, but he’s been in the Netherlands for about 10 years—and with SoftLayer for about four of those. He’s grown our Amsterdam location from an empty space to a bustling place.
But we’ll let him tell you the story himself.
SoftLayer: What was it like being SoftLayer’s first European employee?
Jonathan Wisler: After I interviewed, I went to Dallas for training, and it was all very exciting. I found out this was a great group of people doing fantastic things. Then I got back to Amsterdam and sat down in an empty office with an empty data center. I had mixed feelings: part of me was super excited—“OK, we’re part of a movement; I can get started!”—and the other part of me said, “What did I sign up for?” So it was both exciting and intimidating at the same time.
And now, the first [Amsterdam] data center is nearly full and we have a total of six data centers in Europe. The office is overflowing, so we’re expanding into the IBM offices, and we’re opening up some space in the coming days. It was a very exciting journey and it’s also very exciting to see the growth.
I have to admit: the first day I got back from Dallas and sat down in Amsterdam in an empty office, with an empty data center—it was a bit intimidating [laughs].
SL: How has SoftLayer changed or stayed the same since you started with the company?
Wisler: It’s certainly been an evolution. It’s evolved significantly, and you see the scaling in action. When I first started, we were the second international launch, only one month behind Singapore—so it went from a U.S.-based company to an international company virtually overnight.
Now, in Europe alone, we have five different locations, global teams, and we’ve integrated into IBM. The SoftLayer kernel is now scaling exponentially—not only inside SoftLayer as an organization, but we’re building and scaling inside IBM as well. It’s fantastic to see that it’s mushroomed and virtually exploded in terms of growth.
So naturally, what comes with that is that you see all different types of personalities and different types of cultures, all working together and getting the SoftLayer buzz, so to speak. They’re feeling the growth and developing the cloud movement.
SL: We’ve had monumental, volcanic change. Has anything stayed the same?
Wisler: The core definitely has. We were on a call last night to resolve some customer issues. We’re working across time zones, we’re working across regions, and we’re working across IBM and SoftLayer. But the fantastic thing is the glue that is our customer-first attitude. The first thing we said was, “OK, we need to solve the problem for the customer, we need to do it within hours, not days, and we’ll work out the internal things later.” That kind of core value has not changed, and I think that’s the key to our success. It’s awesome and it’s refreshing.
SL: What’s the best thing that you’ve learned over the course of your time at SoftLayer?
Wisler: Be flexible. If you look at where I started with Softlayer about four years ago—myself and an empty data center—at that time, we weren’t yet a part of IBM, one of the largest technology companies in the world. With where we were then and where we are today in terms of scale, focus, and what we need to do to close deals and fill up data centers, I’ve had to be flexible. Stay flexible, stay fast. And be adaptable, because you have different customer cultures and different internal cultures. SoftLayer has a very strong culture. So you need to be able to work across those.
SL: What’s the best prank you’ve ever pulled on a fellow SLayer?
Wisler: We started small and scaled fast, so pranks were luxurious. We’ve played some jokes on each other and we’ve had a lot of fun, but I don’t know if they’re pranks that would go in a blog [laughs].
SL: You don’t want your coworkers to anticipate your next move. We get that.
Wisler: Exactly. But it’s actually a good idea. When we first started in the SoftLayer office, we had Disco Fridays, which were always quite good. We’d have a sound system there, and the music would go on. As we got more crowded, that was harder to do. But we’re setting up some new office space in the IBM office, so I’m going to invest in a bigger sound system. And lights. Disco Fridays are back on again.
But now you’ve got me thinking about what kind of prank to pull.
SL: Why do tennis balls have fuzz?
Wisler: So when you smack them, they make a funny sound; that “oomph” sound. I don’t know. Is this a prank I should be expecting?
SL: [Laughing] It would be a little difficult to organize an international prank of…tennis balls.
Wisler: If I get a package in the post from you, I’m going to be a little leery.
SL: You should be.
If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to make a quick trip to Academy for, uh, not tennis balls. Definitely not tennis balls.