Posts Tagged 'Sales'

September 30, 2013

The Economics of Cloud Computing: If It Seems Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is

One of the hosts of a popular Sirius XM radio talk show was recently in the market to lease a car, and a few weeks ago, he shared an interesting story. In his research, he came across an offer he came across that seemed "too good to be true": Lease a new Nissan Sentra with no money due at signing on a 24-month lease for $59 per month. The car would as "base" as a base model could be, but a reliable car that can be driven safely from Point A to Point B doesn't need fancy "upgrades" like power windows or an automatic transmission. Is it possible to lease new car for zero down and $59 per month? What's the catch?

After sifting through all of the paperwork, the host admitted the offer was technically legitimate: He could lease a new Nissan Sentra for $0 down and $59 per month for two years. Unfortunately, he also found that "lease" is just about the extent of what he could do with it for $59 per month. The fine print revealed that the yearly mileage allowance was 0 (zero) — he'd pay a significant per-mile rate for every mile he drove the car.

Let's say the mileage on the Sentra was charged at $0.15 per mile and that the car would be driven a very-conservative 5,000 miles per year. At the end of the two-year lease, the 10,000 miles on the car would amount to a $1,500 mileage charge. Breaking that cost out across the 24 months of the lease, the effective monthly payment would be around $121, twice the $59/mo advertised lease price. Even for a car that would be used sparingly, the numbers didn't add up, so the host wound up leasing a nicer car (that included a non-zero mileage allowance) for the same monthly cost.

The "zero-down, $59/mo" Sentra lease would be a fantastic deal for a person who wants the peace of mind of having a car available for emergency situations only, but for drivers who put the national average of 15,000 miles per year, the economic benefit of such a low lease rate is completely nullified by the mileage cost. If you were in the market to lease a new car, would you choose that Sentra deal?

At this point, you might be wondering why this story found its way onto the SoftLayer Blog, and if that's the case, you don't see the connection: Most cloud computing providers sell cloud servers like that car lease.

The "on demand" and "pay for what you use" aspects of cloud computing make it easy for providers to offer cloud servers exclusively as short-term utilities: "Use this cloud server for a couple of days (or hours) and return it to us. We'll just charge you for what you use." From a buyer's perspective, this approach is easy to justify because it limits the possibility of excess capacity — paying for something you're not using. While that structure is effective (and inexpensive) for customers who sporadically spin up virtual server instances and turn them down quickly, for the average customer looking to host a website or application that won't be turned off in a given month, it's a different story.

Instead of discussing the costs in theoretical terms, let's look at a real world example: One of our competitors offers an entry-level Linux cloud server for just over $15 per month (based on a 730-hour month). When you compare that offer to SoftLayer's least expensive monthly virtual server instance (@ $50/mo), you might think, "OMG! SoftLayer is more than three times as expensive!"

But then you remember that you actually want to use your server.

You see, like the "zero down, $59/mo" car lease that doesn't include any mileage, the $15/mo cloud server doesn't include any bandwidth. As soon as you "drive your server off the lot" and start using it, that "fantastic" rate starts becoming less and less fantastic. In this case, outbound bandwidth for this competitor's cloud server starts at $0.12/GB and is applied to the server's first outbound gigabyte (and every subsequent gigabyte in that month). If your server sends 300GB of data outbound every month, you pay $36 in bandwidth charges (for a combined monthly total of $51). If your server uses 1TB of outbound bandwidth in a given month, you end up paying $135 for that "$15/mo" server.

Cloud servers at SoftLayer are designed to be "driven." Every monthly virtual server instance from SoftLayer includes 1TB of outbound bandwidth at no additional cost, so if your cloud server sends 1TB of outbound bandwidth, your total charge for the month is $50. The "$15/mo v. $50/mo" comparison becomes "$135/mo v. $50/mo" when we realize that these cloud servers don't just sit in the garage. This illustration shows how the costs compare between the two offerings with monthly bandwidth usage up to 1.3TB*:

Cloud Cost v Bandwidth

*The graphic extends to 1.3TB to show how SoftLayer's $0.10/GB charge for bandwidth over the initial 1TB allotment compares with the competitor's $0.12/GB charge.

Most cloud hosting providers sell these "zero down, $59/mo car leases" and encourage you to window-shop for the lowest monthly price based on number of cores, RAM and disk space. You find the lowest price and mentally justify the cost-per-GB bandwidth charge you receive at the end of the month because you know that you're getting value from the traffic that used that bandwidth. But you'd be better off getting a more powerful server that includes a bandwidth allotment.

As a buyer, it's important that you make your buying decisions based on your specific use case. Are you going to spin up and spin down instances throughout the month or are you looking for a cloud server that is going to stay online the entire month? From there, you should estimate your bandwidth usage to get an idea of the actual monthly cost you can expect for a given cloud server. If you don't expect to use 300GB of outbound bandwidth in a given month, your usage might be best suited for that competitor's offering. But then again, it's probably worth mentioning that that SoftLayer's base virtual server instance has twice the RAM, more disk space and higher-throughput network connections than the competitor's offering we compared against. Oh yeah, and all those other cloud differentiators.

-@khazard

February 27, 2013

The Three Most Common Hosting-Related Phobias

As a member of the illustrious the SoftLayer sales (SLales) team, I have the daily pleasure of talking with any number of potential, prospective, new and current customers, and in many of those conversations, I've picked up on a fairly common theme: FEAR. Now we're not talking about lachanophobia (fear of vegetables) or nomophobia (fear of losing cell phone contact) here ... We're talking about fear that paralyzes users and holds them captive — effectively preventing their growth and limiting their business's potential. Fear is a disease.

I've created my own little naming convention for the top three most common phobias I hear from users as they consider making changes to their hosting environments:

1. Pessimisobia
This phobia is best summarized by the saying, "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't." Users with this phobia could suffer from frequent downtime, a lack of responsive support and long term commitment contracts, but their service is a known quantity. What if a different provider is even worse? If you don't suffer from pessimisobia, this phobia probably seems silly, but it's very evident in many of the conversations I have.

2. Whizkiditus
This affliction is particularly prevalent in established companies. Symptoms of this phobia include recurring discomfort associated with the thought of learning a new management system or deviating from a platform where users have become experts. There's an efficiency to being comfortable with how a particular platform works, but the ceiling to that efficiency is the platform itself. Users with whizkiditus might not admit it, but the biggest reason they shy away from change is that they are afraid of losing the familiarity they've built with their old systems over the years ... even if that means staying on a platform that prohibits scale and growth.

3. Everythingluenza
In order to illustrate this phobia of compartmentalizing projects to phase in changes, let's look at a little scenario:

I host all of my applications at Company 1. I want to move Application A to the more-qualified Company 2, but if I do that, I'll have to move Applications B through Z to Company 2 also. All of that work would be too time-consuming and cumbersome, so I won't change anything.

It's easy to get overwhelmed when considering a change of cloud hosting for any piece of your business, and it's even more intimidating when you feel like it has to be an "all or nothing" decision.

Unless you are afflicted with euphobia (the fear of hearing good news), you'll be happy to hear that these common fears, once properly diagnosed, are quickly and easily curable on the SoftLayer platform. There are no known side effects from treatment, and patients experience immediate symptom relief with a full recovery in between 1-3 months.

This might be a lighthearted look at some quirky fears, but I don't want to downplay how significant these phobias are to the developers and entrepreneurs that suffer from them. If any of these fears strike a chord with you, reach out to the SLales team (by phone, chat or email), and we'll help you create a treatment plan. Once you address and conquer these fears, you can devote all of your energy back to getting over your selenophobia (fear of the moon).

-Arielle

Categories: 
December 19, 2011

SoftLayer Shopping List

With the holidays upon us, this can be a very hectic time of year. Whether you are the type to brave the shopping mall for your holiday purchases or you do all your shopping from your easy chair over the Internet, gift giving has become one of the more traditional activities during the Christmas season.

It seems that my shopping list gets bigger and bigger each year. At the beginning of every holiday season, I sit down and compose a list of people for whom I will be buying gifts. I then determine the best place to find each item. The next step is to determine whether I will be purchasing what that person needs or what that person wants. If I am shopping for my spouse, I usually get her something she needs. I hate to admit it, but if I am shopping for myself, I usually get something I want.

Another important aspect of holiday shopping is staying within my budget. When I am shopping for someone I hardly see, their gift will be purchased with a small amount of money. When I budget for a family member or someone very close to me, I spend a lot of money on them (and I try to not splurge too much).

Another fun part of shopping is getting it all done as early as possible so I can enjoy the rest of the holiday season. This relieves me from worrying about what I'm going to get "so-and-so" in time for the holiday? Once I've completed my shopping, then comes the hard part: Wrapping the gifts. My wrapping skills would probably put me in the "novice" category, so if I can get the gifts professionally wrapped at the department store, I'm happy to put down a few extra dollars to avoid the awkward, "Did you wrap this in the dark?" questions.

One of my favorite parts of the gift-giving tradition is watching the recipient open their gift. Even if I don't receive anything in return, it brings me joy to see that they enjoy it. It's pretty clear that I'm in the camp that believes it's more blessed to give than it is to receive ... That's probably why I tend to spend more money during the holiday season than I do throughout the entire year on weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions.

If you've listened to the radio at all in the past month or so, you've probably heard of the "The Twelve Days of Christmas" playing about a few dozen times per day. It lists twelve things your true love gives to you. Next Sunday, you're going to get a final holiday-related video with a few folks from the SoftLayer team singing our own little version of the song, but I thought I'd share twelve things you can add to your SoftLayer shopping cart for to make your server faster and your job a lot easier.

  1. QuanataStor Storage Server
  2. CloudLayer Storage
  3. CloudLayer Content Delivery Network
  4. Managed Hosting Services
  5. Hardware Upgrade
  6. Network Services Upgrade
  7. Evault Backup Services
  8. Virtual Racks
  9. Citrix Netscaler
  10. Advanced Monitoring Service
  11. Email Delivery Service
  12. Add Virtual Computing with CCIs

Here is to wishing you a very happy holiday season!

-Greg

September 21, 2011

Global Expansion: Singapore Nearing Completion

In early September I shared with you a progress report on our first international data center in Singapore. It should be no surprise that our build out has been moving at breakneck speeds. In the last couple of weeks we've:

  1. Completed the construction of our new regional office in Singapore
  2. Built out 3 network PoPs (Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore)
  3. Unloaded 4 x 40 foot ocean containers
  4. Received over 100 pallets of equipment and gear – with more to come
  5. Assembled 220 custom server cabinets
  6. Installed 120 customer facing switches (5,760 switch ports)
  7. Provisioned petabytes of new shared storage waiting for your data

We're also ecstatic to have our new Singaporean employees burning the midnight oil with us. We spent countless hours interviewing for a number of positions in Singapore and we've only hired the most talented, brightest stars that we could find. Everyone has fit right in, loves the culture and they're rocking it. We still have a bunch of open positions – if you're interested, drop us a note.

As our go-live date approaches we're putting the final touches on the data center. One last check to ensure all cables are seated correctly in their ports, double check the configurations on our internal equipment, light the network and have our first ever international truck day – although, we might have to call it ocean container day. :)

I've included some pictures below that I took over the last couple of days showing the progress of the data center build out. Expect a full set of pictures once everything is live.

Singapore Sep 20

Singapore Sep 20

Singapore Sep 20

-@toddmitchell

September 16, 2011

Social Marketing v. Social Media - And Them Cowboys?

Once again the Dallas Cowboys let a game they weren't supposed to win slip away from them in the 4th quarter. Again it was Tony "oops" Romo that had a hand (or "didn't have hands") in the loss. I can't blame it all on him as I saw many problems that led up to the defeat. I, as a master football coach of 4-6 year-old flag football, could write multiple paragraphs on that subject, but because this is a social media blog, I will get back on topic.

After last night's "4th quarter of doom" that probably led to crazy nightmares for my sleeping kids (I may have been yelling loudly and often), I decided to open Twitter to see what everyone in the world thought about the game. I have to admit I was a little shocked at how many Cowboy haters are out in the wild. Of course the game was trending, and the conversation was ... diverse: You had your die-hard Cowboy fans that were saying, "Shake it off, you weren't supposed to win anyway." You had your fair weather fans that were saying, "Great, another season opener loss, I guess I'll follow the Texans instead." You had the fans of other teams that were saying, "Haha, the Cowboys lost again – Go (Insert your team here)!" And, of course you had the pure Cowboy haters who were saying, "#$%^#$%^#$ the Cowboys they #$%#$% and #$%# and then #$%#$%. Eat it!" I would say most were Cowboy haters, and most of the tweets were not even close to being rated PG-13.

Stay with me now ... I'm finally onto the real topic.

Social Media
What I saw on Twitter last night was real Social Media to me. It was current, real time, opinionated, cool and sad all at the same time. It encapsulated the thoughts and reactions of the public to something that was happening or just happened. Why is social media cool? A couple of weeks ago when the earthquake struck the northeast, people were saying that they received tweet updates of the ground shaking and notifications that an earthquake hit seconds before they felt the tremors in their area. Think about that and how many possible uses that has in lots of different industries. X happens, Y needs to know about it right away, Z tweets it or posts it on Facebook (or any of the 2000 other social apps out there), and like magic you have the information almost before you are supposed to. That's viral social media.

Social Marketing
Social Marketing isn't nearly as sexy. It's only and exactly what it sounds like. We do it at SoftLayer: You see tweets from us talking about press releases, new products, our new website, our new international locations and some of the other value we provide to customers because we know how easy it is to miss some of the best stuff in the noisy social sphere. It helps us build our brand and helps with awareness by getting our name in front of people who may not have seen it otherwise. It drives traffic to our website and straight to our order form. It is significant to our bottom line.

The challenge with this kind of engagement is that the volume of content can seem overwhelming to some. Some customers only want to hear the viral social media kind of stuff with up to the minute news (which is our vision for @SoftLayerNotify), but it's tough to abandon the social marketing piece because it's been so measurably successful for us.

With that being said, we want to hear from you about what you like and don't like about our social engagement. What you would like to see more of? What would you like to see less of? Do you like it? Do you hate it? We're definitely listening ... Well as long as we're not busy getting ready for the next flash mob.

-@skinman454

September 9, 2011

Global Expansion: More Singapore!

Last week, I shared an early glimpse of our Singapore data center pods and office space. What a difference a week makes. A week after the first batch of pictures were taken, I made my way back through the facility to document some of the progress, and you'll be amazed by how quickly everything is coming together.

You'd probably be even more amazed if you knew how many people (literally) around the world were working hard every day to keep the build-out moving forward so quickly ... Some of the most visible folks in the process are the guys we have on the ground in Singapore:

SoftLayer Singapore

We weren't able to use SoftLayer's fancy new truck to get our gear to the Singapore facility. I think it had something about having to travel over the Pacific Ocean ... I guess there weren't enough gas stations? We had all of our DC gear shipped down (literally) in ocean containers, and when the skids were all moved into the storage area, it was almost like Christmas.

SoftLayer Singapore

I say "almost like Christmas" because we happened to know everything we'd be unwrapping, and if we were surprised by anything we opened, it probably wouldn't be a good surprise. Luckily, we got exactly what we needed. Meanwhile, the Singapore data center pods have been coming along nicely. Here's a look inside Pod 1.

SoftLayer Singapore

And while we do our best to mirror the build-out of our data center pods regardless of their location, you can see that a few exceptions are made. In the pods we're building in the United States, we have at least two fewer languages on signs like the ones you see here:

SoftLayer Singapore

If we walk next door to Pod 1, you'll see the progress we're making in Pod 2. I know the pictures look similar ... But that's the point. Given the demand we've heard from customers, we're building both pods at the same time, hoping to keep up with demand while we start building our next facilities.

SoftLayer Singapore

While the pod progress is impressive, the progress on the office space is almost unbelievable. Where you previously saw ladders and cement, you now see desks, chairs and carpet. We've been hiring in Singapore for a few weeks now, and when we officially get the keys to move in, this place will be abuzz with new SLayers.

SoftLayer Singapore

We've posted a few more pictures in our Singapore DC Construction Flickr photo album, enjoy them! Soon after these pictures were taken, the team started assembling the racks in the DC, so the next update you'll see from me will probably include a lot more server goodness.

If you happen to live in Singapore and want to join our team, be sure to visit SoftLayer Careers for our current opportunities. As of right now, we have positions available in inventory, channel development, inside sales, enterprise account management, network engineering, sales engineering, systems administration and server building ... And if you don't fit in any of those positions, we can probably find another role for you to fill!

-@toddmitchell

September 2, 2011

Global Expansion: An Early Look at Singapore

Based on the blog's traffic analytics, customers are very interested in SoftLayer's global expansion, and in my update from Tokyo, I promised a few sneak peeks into the progress of building out the Singapore data center. We've been talking about our move into Asia for a while now, but we haven't showed much of the progress. The cynics in the audience will say, "I'll believe it when I see it," and to them, I say:

These pictures were actually taken a few weeks ago before our Server Build Technicians came on site, and it looks even more amazing now ... But you'll have to check back with us in the coming weeks to see that progress for yourself. Both the Singapore and Amsterdam facilities are on track to go live by the middle of Q4 2011, and we're already starting to hear buzz from our customers as they prepare to snatch up their first SoftLayer server in Asia.

If you want to have a little fun, you should compare these build-out pictures with the ones we've posted from the completed San Jose facility and the under-construction Amsterdam data center. As we've mentioned in previous posts, SoftLayer uses a data center pod concept to create identical hosting environments in each of our locations. Even with the data centers' varying floor plan layouts and sizes, the server room similarities are pretty remarkable.

Stay tuned for updates on the build-out process and for information about when you can start provisioning new servers in Singapore. If you have any questions about the build-out process, leave a comment below or hit us up on Twitter: @SoftLayer.

-@toddmitchell

March 24, 2011

3 Bars | 3 Questions: SoftLayer Channel Sales

In this week's "3 Bars | 3 Questions" episode, I was nominated by Tom Blair to talk about SoftLayer's Channel Sales team and the competitive advantages our three partner programs (strategic, referral and reseller) have over our competition.

As you'll see in the video, we actually covered seven or eight questions, but the basic framework for the chat were these three:

  1. How does SoftLayer define the channel?
  2. What's happening in the SoftLayer channel program?
  3. How does SoftLayer's referral program differ from the programs offered by competitors?

Because we had quite a bit of ground to cover, the video goes about 15 minutes, but I hope it's entertaining and informative throughout. Be sure to stick around through the end of the video to hear the best analogy I can think of for SoftLayer's program.

To learn more about the new referral partner program I mention, email referral@softlayer.com, and we can fill you in.

Since we recently announced an awesome partnership with TechWildcatters, I'm looking forward to hearing what SoftLayer VP of Community Development Paul Ford has to say about what else is coming up. Paul, enjoy the hot seat!

-Drew

February 3, 2010

Custom Server Solutions

The other day I was at a well known coffee shop (take a wild guess) and was steamrolled by all of the marketing hype. Try this! Take one of these home! Only for a limited time! Often the presentation of too many options makes the decision a lot more difficult. I know it’s just coffee or tea but now I have the sudden urge to collect them all! And despite years of caffeine conditioning I don’t think my heart, stomach, or my bank account could take a collecting and consuming of all. I’m looking for something different this time, but again, too many options. The next logical step is asking the Barista what their favorite is. I figure they spend their entire workday around the stuff; they MUST have a good recommendation. All I was really looking for here was a “get this” and call it good. Only after I asked, did I remember that most people who frequent this caliber of coffee joint are really particular about their coffee. I, however, am not one of the ¼ soy milk, ¼ cream, no froth, low-fat, exactly 1723 crystals of sugar type of people, so I’m not really prepared for what comes next. Instead of a one-size-fits-all answer, I’m getting a barrage of questions about my preferences. While this was not really what I was after, it hit me that this Barista is building me a solution. I did, in fact, leave with a tasty seasonal coffee, custom tailored to my needs. Servers are a lot like coffee, they rely on gratuitous amounts of caffeine to be any good; that and, there is usually never a generic solution that is going to suit your needs. The sales team at SoftLayer is not there solely to assist you in placing an order for you; they are there to ask you questions about your intentions with the server so they can recommend the best possible solution. You can have your low-fat CentOS with a double-shot of 5570’s with “venti” gigs of ram. Just ask our sales team to brew you up a solution.

April 6, 2009

Solid State Drives – In House Performance Stats

I love working at SoftLayer. I get to play with the newest hardware before anyone else. Intel, Adaptec, Supermicro… The list goes on. If they are going to release something new, we get to play with it first. I also like progression. Speed, size, performance, reliability; I like new products and technologies that make big jumps in these areas. I am always looking to push components and complete systems to the limits.

But alas, Thomas Norris stole my thunder! Check out his article “SSD: A Peek into the Future” for the complete skinny on the SSD’s we use. I seem to be a bit to concise for a nice long blog anyways. But not to worry, I’ve got some nifty numbers that will blow the jam out of your toes!

Solid State Drives (SSD) represent a large jump in drive performance. Not to mention smaller physical size, lower power consumption, and lower heat emissions. The majority of drive activity is random read/write. SSD drives have drastically improved in this area compared to mechanical drives. This results in a drastic overall performance increase for SSD drives.

This is a comparison of the Intel 32GB X25-E Extreme drive vs. other drives we carry. Note the massive jump in the random read/write speed of the SSD drive.

No more waiting on physical R/W heads to move around. How archaic!

Chart

Please note that no performance utility should be used to definitively judge a component or system. In the end, only real time usage is the final judge. But performance tests can give you a good idea of how a component or system compares to others.

Single drive performance increases directly translate into big improvements for RAID configurations as well. I have compared two of our fastest SATA and SAS four drive RAID 10 setups to a four drive SSD RAID 10 using an Adaptec 5405 Controller.

Chart

The Adaptec 5405 RAID controller certainly plays a part in the performance increase, on top on the simple speed doubling due to 2 drives being read simultaneously. (See my future blog on the basics or RAID levels, or check Wikipedia) .

Propeller heads read on:

The numbers indicate a multiplied increase if you take the base drive speed (Cheetah – 11.7mbps / X25-E – 64.8mbps) and double it (the theoretical increase a RAID 10 would give): 23.4mbps and 129.6mbps respectively. Actually performance tests show 27.3mbps and 208.1mbps. That means the Cheetahs are getting a 15% performance boost on random read/write and the X25-E a whopping 37% due to the RAID card. Hooray for math!

Once again, this is all performance tests and a bit of math speculation. The only real measure of performance, IMO, is how it performs the job you need it to do.

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