Posts Tagged 'Questions'

September 18, 2014

The Cloud Doesn't Bite, Part III

Why it's OK to be a server-hugger—a cloud server hugger.

(This is the final post in a three-part series. Read the first and second posts here.)

By now, you probably understand the cloud enough to know what it is and does. Maybe it's something you've even considered for your own business. But you're still not sold. You still have nagging concerns. You still have questions that you wish you could ask, but you're pretty sure no cloud company would dignify those questions with an honest, legitimate response.

Well we’re a cloud company, and we’ll answer those questions.

Inspired by a highly illuminating (!) thread on Slashdot about the video embedded below, we've noticed that some of you aren't ready to get your head caught up in the cloud just yet. And that's cool. But let's see if maybe we can put a few of those fears to rest right now.

“[The] reason that companies are hesitant to commit all of their IT to the cloud [relates to] keeping control. It's not about jobs, it's about being sure that critical services are available when you need them. Whenever you see ‘in the CLOUD!’, mentally replace it with ‘using someone else's server’—all of a sudden it looks a whole lot less appealing. Yes, you gain some flexibility, but you lose a LOT of control. I like my data to not be in the hands of someone else. If I don't control the actual machine that has my data on it, then I don't control the data.”

You guys are control FREAKS! And rightfully so. But some of us actually don't take that away from you. Believe it or not, we make it easier for you.

In fact, sometimes you even get to manage your own infrastructure—and that means you can do anything an employee can do. You'll probably even get so good at it that you'll wonder why we don't pay you.

But it doesn't stop at mere management. Oh, no, no, no, friends. You can even take it one further and build, manage, and have total control over your very own private cloud of virtual servers. Yes, yours, and yours only. Now announcing you, the shot caller.

The point is, you don't lose control over your data in the cloud. None. 'Cause cloud companies don't play like that.

“The first rule of computer security is physical access, which is impossible with cloud services, which means they are inherently insecure.”

Curious. So since you can't physically touch your money in your bank account, does that mean it's a free-for-all on your savings? Let us know; we'll bring buckets.

“These cloud guys always forget to mention one glaring problem with their model— they're not adding any new software to the picture.”

Ready for us to blow your minds? We're actually adding software all the time; you just don't see it—but you do feel it.

Your friendly Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers out there are doing a lot of development behind the scenes. An internal software update might let us deploy servers 10 minutes faster, for example. You won't see that, but that doesn't mean it's not happening. If you're happy with your servers, then rest assured you're seeing some sweet software in action. Some cloud companies aren't exclusively focused on software (think Salesforce), but that doesn't mean the software is dial-up grade.

“I personally don't trust the cloud. Think about it for a moment. You are putting your data on a server, and you have no clue as to where it is. You have no clue about who else is able to see that data, and you have no clue about who is watching as you access your data and probably no clue if that server is up to date on security patches.”

Just ask. Simply ask all these questions, and you'd have all these answers. Not to be cheeky, but all of this is information you can and do have a right to know before you commit to anything. We're not sure what makes you think you don't, but you do. Your own due diligence on behalf of your data makes that a necessity, not a luxury.

“As long as I'm accountable, I want the hardware and software under my control. That way when something goes wrong and my boss calls and asks 'WTF?', I can give him something more than ’Well I called Amazon and left a message with our account representative.’"

We can't speak for Amazon, but cloud companies often offer multiple ways you can get a hold of a real, live person because we get that you want to talk to us, like, yesterday. Yes, we totally get you. And we want to fix whatever ails you. In the cloud, that is.

But what makes you think we won't know when something goes wrong before you do? (Checkmate.)

“No matter how much marketing jargon you spew at people, ‘the cloud’ is still just a bunch of servers. Stop lying.”

Why yes, yes, it is. Who's lying to you about that? You're right. "They" should stop lying.

The concept of "the cloud" is simply about where the servers are located and how you consume computing, storage, and networking resources. In "the cloud," your servers are accessed remotely via a network connection (often the Internet, for most of the clouds you know and love) as opposed to being locally accessed while housed in a server room or physical location on the company premises. Your premises, as in wherever you are while performing your computing functions. But no one's trying to pull the wool over your eyes with that one.

Think about it this way: If servers at your location are "on the ground," then servers away from your location can be considered "in the cloud." And that's all there is to it.

Did we help? Did we clear the cloudy haze? We certainly hope so.

But this is just the beginning, and our door is always open for you to question, criticize, and wax philosophical with us when it comes to all things cloud. So get at us. You can chat with us live via our homepage, message us or post up on Facebook, or sling a tweet at a SLayer. We've got real, live people manning their stations. Consider the gauntlet thrown.

-Fayza

August 28, 2014

Dude, how do I get into the cloud?

I know you may think that’s just a catchy title to get you to read my blog, but it’s not. I’ve actually had someone ask me that at a party. In fact, that’s the first thing anyone asks me when they find out I work for SoftLayer. The funny thing is, everyone is already in the cloud—they just don’t realize it! To make my point, I pick up their smart phone and tell them they already are in the cloud, and walk away. That, of course, sparks more conversation and the opportunity to educate my friends and family on the magic and mystery that is the cloud. But truthfully, it really is a very simple concept:

  • On demand
  • Compute
  • Consumption-based billing

That’s it. At its core. But if you want more detail, check out this document: NIST.

And, just to shed light on the backend of what the cloud is, well, it’s nothing but servers. I know, you were expecting something more exciting—maybe unicorns and fairy dust. But it’s not. We house the servers. We care for them daily. We store them and protect them. All from our data center.

What makes SoftLayer stand out from others in the cloud space is that we offer more than one-size-fits-all servers. We offer both public and private virtual servers like other cloud providers, but we also offer highly customizable and high performance bare metal, servers. And as with any good infrastructure, we offer all the ancillary services such as load balancing, firewalls, attached storage, DNS, etc…

There’s no magic involved here. We’ve simply taken your infrastructure and removed your capex and headache. You’re welcome.

So when you hear “The Cloud,” don’t be mystified, and don’t feel inadequate. Now you too can be the cloud genius at your next party. When they talk cloud, just say things like, “Oh yeah, it’s totally on demand computing that bills based on consumption.” Chicks dig that, trust me.

-Cheeku

April 2, 2011

So ... What Does SoftLayer Do?

In the first quarter of 2011, SoftLayer presented in, exhibited at or sponsored at least thirty different conferences and events. We've globe-trotted to places like Orlando, San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas and Europa Park, Germany, to spread the word about who SoftLayer is and what we do. We've talked about data center pods over beers in Boston and showed some server skin at SxSW in Austin, and in the process, we got to share the SoftLayer story with literally thousands (if not tens of thousands) of people.

It turns out, there might be a few billion people on the planet that haven't heard of SoftLayer (yet), so every event we attend give us an opportunity to meet more people and explain the value SoftLayer can bring to their business. Take this week's Web 2.0 Expo for example: More than 500 people came by the our booth to learn more about us, get some cool swag or grab a beer during the booth crawl, and a hundred of them lined up to try their hand at the Server Challenge.

Server Challenge

Of the attendees who made it to the front of the pack to chat with one of us, it's remarkable to note how consistent some of the conversations were. Since we haven't really done a refresh to catch everyone up on what it is SoftLayer does (and since this blog is being presented in the sponsor section of Techmeme), a reintroduction may be in order.

Since the conversations I had at Web 2.0 Expo are so fresh in my mind, I thought I'd frame this little post around the most common questions we were asked by attendees learning about us for the first time (Warning: The responses to these general questions are SoftLayer's value statements, so they'll come off as very salesy ... Leading you to believe we'd answer any other way would be disingenuous, though):

"What does SoftLayer do?"
Simply put, SoftLayer is a hosting provider. That generalization doesn't do our business justice, though. We have ten data center facilities in Houston, Dallas, Washington D.C. and Seattle, and we host more than 80,000 servers for more than 25,000 customers worldwide. We offer cloud, dedicated and hybrid environments and resources that allow businesses to outsource their IT, so they can focus on their core competencies and give their hosting infrastructure to the experts.

"How are you different from <Hosting Competitor>?"
SoftLayer was built with a focus on a few core values: Innovation, Empowerment, Integration and Automation. Our hosting platform offers a true hybrid experience - dedicated and cloud services are seamlessly integrated - that can be accessed and controlled by customers in a number of ways. Each SoftLayer server supports three different kinds of network traffic (public, private and out-of-band management), and customers have complete access to their server via free KVM over IP included with every server. Everything you can do in our portal can be done with our API, and we're an industry leader in product innovation.

Oh, and you can also spin up a cloud server on our platform in under 15 minutes and a dedicated server with your specs and operating system in 2-4 hours.

"Do you support <XYZ Technology>?"
If <XYZ Technology> is current, legal and useful, you can probably use it on our platform. If we don't directly offer software or services you need, we have droves of customers and partners who probably do, and we're happy to refer you to them. Given the unparalleled access you get to your SoftLayer hosting environment, the world is your oyster.

"Impressive sales pitch, but how do I know it's more than just a pitch?"
Our business is designed around making our customers happy. Our services are offered on month-to-month contracts, so we have to continue to provide great service to you or we lose your business. We can share customer success stories until we're blue in the face, but what really matters is what your experience is when you try us out.

Somewhere in there, you might have written me off as just some public relations guy, but I believe every word in those responses (as I'm sure my 550+ coworkers do). I'm not trying to claim that if you host with SoftLayer you'll never have another problem or that people don't make mistakes on our end, but as a company, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more devoted group of people focused on providing the best experience in the business.

-@quigleymar

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