Posts Tagged 'Private Network'

November 18, 2014

Your Direct Link into the SoftLayer Cloud

Remember the days when cellular companies charged additional fees for calls placed during peak hours or for text messages that exceeded your plan?

The good news is those days are pretty much over for cellular services thanks to unlimited text and data plans. The bad news is there are cloud and hosting providers who adhere to those same old billing practices of charging customers for every single communication their severs send or receive.

At SoftLayer we do things differently. All of our servers come with included terabytes of outbound bandwidth—5TB for virtual servers and 20TB for bare metal servers. Now you probably just noticed I specifically mentioned outbound bandwidth, and that's because we don't charge anything, nothing, zip, zilch for all traffic inbound to any of our servers, nor do we charge for any bandwidth usage across our Global Private Network.

Imagine the possibilities of what you could build on a Global Private Network that essentially comes free of charge just by being a SoftLayer customer.

  • How about building that true disaster recovery solution that you’re always talking about?
  • How about moving all of your backups offsite now that the necessary bandwidth requirements and costs aren’t standing in your way?
  • Or maybe it’s time to offer your app a little GSLB now that replicating data across remote sites, which hasn’t been feasible over the public Internet due to latency or security concerns, is now feasible?

We help put all these dreams within grasp thanks to Direct Link. Tap directly into our Global Private Network at connection speeds of 1Gbps or 10Gbps to establish a Direct Link into any of our 19 network PoPs (more PoPs are being added regularly). You’ll have the ability to seamlessly extend your private networks directly into SoftLayer. Not only does a Direct Link give you access to one of the world’s largest and fastest private networks, it gives you access to elastically scale your compute and storage on demand.

Many companies look to the cloud as a way to reduce capex and adjust spending on demand but hesitate to move workloads due to latency or security concerns. I'd like to say that latency isn’t even worth thinking twice about at SoftLayer. But don't take my word for it; take a peek at our Looking Glass, and see for yourself. In regards to security, a SoftLayer Direct Link enables you to build and deliver secure services on our private network without having to expose your servers to the public Internet.

For more information on Direct Link and connectivity check out KnowledgeLayer or this blog where the author digs into the technical details and explains how enterprise customers benefit from Direct Link with GRE Tunnels.

Thanks,
JD Wells

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July 24, 2013

Deconstructing SoftLayer's Three-Tiered Network

When Sun Microsystems VP John Gage coined the phrase, "The network is the computer," the idea was more wishful thinking than it was profound. At the time, personal computers were just starting to show up in homes around the country, and most users were getting used to the notion that "The computer is the computer." In the '80s, the only people talking about networks were the ones selling network-related gear, and the idea of "the network" was a little nebulous and vaguely understood. Fast-forward a few decades, and Gage's assertion has proven to be prophetic ... and it happens to explain one of SoftLayer's biggest differentiators.

SoftLayer's hosting platform features an innovative, three-tier network architecture: Every server in a SoftLayer data center is physically connected to public, private and out-of-band management networks. This "network within a network" topology provides customers the ability to build out and manage their own global infrastructure without overly complex configurations or significant costs, but the benefits of this setup are often overlooked. To best understand why this network architecture is such a game-changer, let's examine each of the network layers individually.

SoftLayer Private Network

Public Network

When someone visits your website, they are accessing content from your server over the public network. This network connection is standard issue from every hosting provider since your content needs to be accessed by your users. When SoftLayer was founded in 2005, we were the first hosting provider to provide multiple network connections by default. At the time, some of our competitors offered one-off private network connections between servers in a rack or a single data center phase, but those competitors built their legacy infrastructures with an all-purpose public network connection. SoftLayer offers public network connection speeds up to 10Gbps, and every bare metal server you order from us includes free inbound bandwidth and 5TB of outbound bandwidth on the public network.

Private Network

When you want to move data from one server to another in any of SoftLayer's data centers, you can do so quickly and easily over the private network. Bandwidth between servers on the private network is unmetered and free, so you don't incur any costs when you transfer files from one server to another. Having a dedicated private network allows you to move content between servers and facilities without fighting against or getting in the way of the users accessing your server over the public network.

It should come as no surprise to learn that all private network traffic stays on SoftLayer's network exclusively when it travels between our facilities. The blue lines in this image show how the private network connects all of our data centers and points of presence:

SoftLayer Private Network

To fully replicate the functionality provided by the SoftLayer private network, competitors with legacy single-network architecture would have to essentially double their networking gear installation and establish safeguards to guarantee that customers can only access information from their own servers via the private network. Because that process is pretty daunting (and expensive), many of our competitors have opted for "virtual" segmentation that logically links servers to each other. The traffic between servers in those "virtual" private networks still travels over the public network, so they usually charge you for "private network" bandwidth at the public bandwidth rate.

Out-of-Band Management Network

When it comes to managing your server, you want an unencumbered network connection that will give you direct, secure access when you need it. Splitting out the public and private networks into distinct physical layers provides significant flexibility when it comes to delivering content where it needs to go, but we saw a need for one more unique network layer. If your server is targeted for a denial of service attack or a particular ISP fails to route traffic to your server correctly, you're effectively locked out of your server if you don't have another way to access it. Our management-specific network layer uses bandwidth providers that aren't included in our public/private bandwidth mix, so you're taking a different route to your server, and you're accessing the server through a dedicated port.

If you've seen pictures or video from a SoftLayer data center (or if you've competed in the Server Challenge), you probably noticed the three different colors of Ethernet cables connected at the back of every server rack, and each of those colors carries one of these types of network traffic exclusively. The pink/red cables carry public network traffic, the blue cables carry private network traffic, and the green cables carry out-of-band management network traffic. All thirteen of our data centers have the same colored cables in the same configuration doing the same jobs, so we're able to train our operations staff consistently between all thirteen of our data centers. That consistency enables us to provide quicker service when you need it, and it lessens the chance of human error on the data center floor.

The most powerful server on the market can be sidelined by a poorly designed, inefficient network. If "the network is the computer," the network should be a primary concern when you select your next hosting provider.

-@khazard

August 30, 2011

Global Expansion: PoP into Asia - Japan

By the end of the year, SoftLayer's global network will include points of presence (PoPs) and data centers throughout Europe and Asia. As George explained in Globalization and Hosting: The World Wide Web is Flat, the goal is to bring SoftLayer's network within 40ms of everyone on the planet. One of the first steps in reaching that goal is to cross both of the "ponds" between our US facilities and our soon-to-open international facilities.

Global Network

The location and relative size of Europe and Asia on that map may not make them viable resources when planning travel (Seattle actually isn't geographically closer to Tokyo than it is to San Jose), but they illustrate the connections we'll make to extend our network advantages to Singapore and Amsterdam.

Since I'm currently on-site in Singapore, I can give you an inside look at our expansion into Asia. The data center is coming along very nicely, but before I share any of the activity from that construction process, I wanted to share a little about a stopover I had on my trip from Dallas to Singapore: Tokyo!

Last week, we began the process of installing and lighting our first Asian point of presence in Tokyo, Japan, and after a few long days of work, it's all racked and stacked. If you're familiar with SoftLayer, you're probably aware that we build our data centers in a pod concept for a number of reasons, and our network points of presence are no different ... One funny aspect of being so familiar with the infrastructure in all of our other locations is that when we walk out the door of the data center facility, we get inundated with culture shock all over again.

SoftLayer VP of Network Operations and Engineering Will Charnock just finished the process of building the network PoP in Hong Kong, and you might see a few (similar looking) pictures from Tokyo and Hong Kong in the near future when we're ready to open those new PoPs to customer traffic. And don't worry ... I'll be sure to sneak a few shots of the Singapore DC progress for you too.

Sayonara!

-@toddmitchell

July 26, 2011

Globalization and Hosting: The World Wide Web is Flat

Christopher Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, on August 3, 1492, with the goal of reaching the East Indies by traveling West. He fortuitously failed by stumbling across the New World and the discovery that the world was round – a globe. In The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman calls this discovery "Globalization 1.0," or an era of "countries globalizing." As transportation and technology grew and evolved in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, "Globalization 2.0" brought an era of "companies globalizing," and around the year 2000, we moved into "Globalization 3.0":

The dynamic force in Globalization 3.0 – the force that gives it its unique character – is the newfound power for individuals to collaborate and compete globally. And the phenomenon that is enabling, empowering, and enjoining individuals and small groups to go global so easily and so seamlessly is what I call the flat-world platform.

Columbus discovered the world wasn't flat, we learned how to traverse that round world, and we keep making that world more and more accessible. He found out that the world was a lot bigger than everyone thought, and since his discovery, the smartest people on the planet have worked to make that huge world smaller and smaller.

The most traditional measure of globalization is how far "out" political, economical and technological changes extend. Look at the ARPANET network infrastructure in 1971 and a map of the Internet as it is today.

With every step Columbus took away from the Old World, he was one step closer to the New World. If you look at the growth of the Internet through that lens, you see that every additional node and connection added to the Internet brings connectivity closer to end-users who haven't had it before. Those users gain access to the rest of the Internet, and the rest of the Internet gains access to the information and innovation those users will provide.

Globalization in Hosting

As technology and high speed connectivity become more available to users around the world, the hosting industry has new markets to reach and serve. As Lance explained in a keynote session, "50% of the people in the world are not on the Internet today. They will be on the Internet in the next 5-10 years."

Understanding this global shift, SoftLayer can choose from a few different courses of action. Today, 40+% of our customers reside outside the United States of America, and we reach those customers via 2,000+ Gbps of network connectivity from transit and peering relationships with other networks around the world, and we've been successful. If the Internet is flattening the world, a USA-centric infrastructure may be limiting, though.

Before we go any further, let's take a step back and look at a map of the United States with a few important overlays:

US Latency

The three orange circles show the rough equivalents of the areas around our data centers in Seattle, Dallas and Washington, D.C., that have less than 40 milliseconds of latency directly to that facility. The blue circle on the left shows the same 40ms ring around our new San Jose facility (in blue to help avoid a little confusion). If a customer can access their host's data center directly with less than 40ms of latency, that customer will be pretty happy with their experience.

When you consider that each of the stars on the map represents a point of presence (PoP) on the SoftLayer private network, you can draw similar circles around those locations to represent the area within 40ms of the first on-ramp to our private network. While Winnipeg, Manitoba, isn't in one of our data center's 40ms rings, a user there would be covered by the Chicago PoP's coverage, and once the user is on the SoftLayer network, he or she has a direct, dedicated path to all of our data centers, and we're able to provide a stellar network experience.

If in the next 5-10 years, the half of the world that isn't on the Internet joins the Internet, we can't rely solely on our peering and transit providers to get those users to the SoftLayer network, so we will need to bring the SoftLayer network closer to them:

Global Network

This map gives you an idea of what the first steps of SoftLayer's international expansion will look like. As you've probably heard, we will have a data center location in Singapore and in Amsterdam by the end of the year, and those locations will be instrumental in helping us build our global network.

Each of the points of presence we add in Asia and Europe effectively wrap our 40ms ring around millions of users that may have previously relied on several hops on several providers to get to the SoftLayer network, and as a result, we're able to power a faster and more consistent network experience for those users. As SoftLayer grows, our goal is to maintain the quality of service our customers expect while we extend the availability of that service quality to users around the globe.

If you're not within 40ms of our network yet, don't worry ... We're globalizing, and we'll be in your neighborhood soon.

-@gkdog

February 15, 2011

Five Ways to Use Your VPN

One of the many perks of being a SoftLayer customer is having access to your own private network. Perhaps you started out with a server in Dallas, later expanded to Seattle, and are now considering a new box in Washington, D.C. for complete geographic diversity. No matter the distance or how many servers you have, the private network bridges the gaps between you, your servers, and SoftLayer's internal services by bringing all of these components together into a secure, integrated environment that can be accessed as conveniently as if you were sitting right in the data center.

As if our cutting-edge management portal and API weren't enough, SoftLayer offers complimentary VPN access to the private network. This often-underestimated feature allows you to integrate your SoftLayer private network into your personal or corporate LAN, making it possible to access your servers with the same security and flexibility that a local network can offer.

Let's look at a few of the many ways you can take advantage of your VPN connection:

1. Unmetered Bandwidth

Unlike the public network that connects your servers to the outside world, the traffic on your private network is unlimited. This allows you to transfer as much data as you wish from one server to another, as well as between your servers and SoftLayer's backup and network storage devices – all for free.

When you use the VPN service to tap into the private network from your home or office, you can download and upload as much data as you want without having to worry about incurring additional charges.

2. Secure Data Transfer

Because your VPN connection is encrypted, all traffic between you and your private network is automatically secure — even when transferring data over unencrypted protocols like FTP.

3. Protect Sensitive Services

Even with strong passwords, leaving your databases and remote access services exposed to the outside world is asking for trouble. With SoftLayer, you don't have to take these risks. Simply configure sensitive services to only listen for connections from your private network, and use your secure VPN to access them.

If you run Linux or BSD, securing your SSH daemon is as easy as adding the line ListenAddress a.b.c.d to your /etc/ssh/sshd_config file (replace a.b.c.d with the IP address assigned to your private network interface)

4. Lock Down Your Server in Case of Emergency

In the unfortunate event of a security breach or major software bug, SoftLayer allows you to virtually "pull the plug" on your server, effectively cutting off all communication with the outside world.

The difference with the competition? Because you have a private network, you can still access your server over the VPN to work on the problem – all with the peace of mind that your server is completely off-limits until you're ready to bring it back online.

5. Remote Management

SoftLayer's dedicated servers sport a neat IP management interface (IPMI) which takes remote management to a whole new level. From reboots to power supply control to serial console and keyboard-video-mouse (KVM) access, you can do anything yourself.

Using tools like SuperMicro's IPMIView, you can connect to your server's management interface over the VPN to perform a multitude of low-level management tasks, even when your server is otherwise unreachable. Has your server shut itself off? You can power it back on. Frozen system? Reboot from anywhere in the world. Major crash? Feeling adventurous? Mount a CD-ROM image and use the KVM interface to install a new operating system yourself.

This list is just the beginning. Once you've gotten a taste of the infinite possibilities that come with having out-of-band access to your hosted environment, you'll never want to go back.

Now, go have some fun!

-Nick

August 18, 2008

Not Sure I Have Enough Yet

You ever wonder what a SoftLayer technician does in their down time? Well aside from my addictions to coffee, PHP and of course the dreaded World of Warcraft, I tinker. My home network has been a work in progress for about 5 years on and off. For a family of 4 with 2 very young children, we have an awful lot of computers. At last count we currently have 10 computers when you include the laptops. As the wee ones are not to an age where computers even cross their minds, that means between myself and my wife we use all 10, well I should say I use about 8 of them and she uses 2.

You might wonder what a person does with 10 computers and how in the world you handle that in a home environment. Well here is a basic run through our world o computers. My wife being the average joe, has a desktop and a laptop. I on the other hand cannot get by with just 1 desktop, nope I need 3. If my desk didn’t give off a healthy hum and a slight vibration I just wouldn’t be happy. So my desktops are broken down in to a Windows Vista box, generally used for gamming and 2 Linux boxes running Slackware and Gentoo respectively. You might wonder why I need 3, and my response would probably be something like “Because I can”. I do however make full use of these different desktops on a fairly regular basis so I guess I can still justify them. Of course you really could consider my laptop to be yet another desktop, but then again, it is rarely used at home.

So as you have probably noticed, that’s only 6 of the 10. Now, 2 of the computers I have are media centers connected to the TV’s in the living room and the master bedroom. If you haven’t had a media center, you just don’t know what you’re missing. This brings us to the last 2 pieces of this network. The last 2 are rather old boxes that sit in the corner of a closet being as unobtrusive as possible; however they are the backbone of my home network, the fileservers. What good would 2 media centers be if I needed to have a duplicate of all files on each one of them? In the world of computers, the 2 fileservers would be considered dinosaurs, but for what they do, they are perfect.

Now that you have all these computers, they need to be connected somehow. This entire network is connecting to 2 separate gigabit networks. Why 2 you might add? Well I took a page from the SoftLayer book on that one. I saw no reason why the fileservers or the media centers needed internet access, so rather than deal with firewalls and the like, it was easier to put in a second network linking all the computers to each other while only the desktop computers were able to connect to the internet.

Is all of this overkill? Probably, but it sure gives me something to do. Now my current project might actually cut down that number a bit, then again, what fun is that? The current project is to get a 2008 server running with Hyper-V and a domain controller up and running. I figure since I have all these computers, I should be able to log into them all without having to create a separate user account on each. This project has been an experience for sure, but that’s for another blog.

-Mathew

June 22, 2007

Money, Money, Money

The term "Digital Super-Highway" seems to be quite prophetic as the monetization of the internet seems to be exploding from all angles. Monetization of the internet is something that we are always focusing on here since a good portion of our customer base turns our underlying infrastructure into a revenue-generating engine for them, be it through Value Added Services, enablement of SaaS business models, e-commerce activities or whatever focus our customers have (which are too many to list).

I always knew the monies on the web were staggering, but I was caught off guard the other day when I came across an article in Business 2.0, "The Man Who Owns the Internet". The article is about Kevin Ham, who has built a $300 Million Dollar portfolio of domain names. $100,000 for Greeting.com, and $31,000 for Christianrock.com and so on. He's a domain name mogul.

In a technology world, this seems to be the "day-trading" of the internet. The other portion of this article that struck me is the monetization of the typographical errors in domains, referred to as "Typo Squatting". We have all accidentally fat-fingered a key here or there and after closing the 85 pop-ups, the monies are moving like a slot machine with triple 7’s across the board. In an article referring to the monetization of Typo Squatting, companies have built multi-million dollar producing firms on capitalizing on a misspelling here, a lack of dash there, etc. Just for reference, it seems that www.softlater.com is already taken, which means my dream of typo squatting my way to retirement has taken a drastic turn.

With the tools we have put in place through the API and the private network we have really streamlined the enablement of the monetization of the internet, which when we talk to our customers it’s at the forefront of both of our minds. The successes of our customers ensure our success, so putting these tools in place are essential. Not to give away the secrets of others, but I have peeked into the private back-end network and seen things like credit card processing gateways, server to server data transfers, licensing gateways and numerous other activities that are surely streamlining the money making processes for our customers.

So I am not sure that when the term "Digital Super Highway" was coined that we ever thought there would be toll-booths along the way, but its clear that these are here to stay.

As a side note, if anyone is interested in sharing their monetization stories, feel free to drop me a line at bizdev@softlayer.com

-Sean

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