Posts Tagged 'Server Challenge'

August 4, 2011

Blood, Sweat and Tears: The Server Challenge

When you're walking down the aisles of an expo hall at a technical conference, what do you expect to see? Stacks of collateral? Maybe a few giveaway T-shirts? A fancy switch-ball or two? How about a crowd of people watching as a fellow attendee slams hard drive trays into a server enclosure and frantically plugs in network cables as a digital clock times them?

Cynical attendees might look at the Server Challenge and think of it as a gimmicky way to draw a crowd to our booth, but when you step up to the server enclosure to compete, you're getting a crash course in SoftLayer's business (along with an exciting tangible experience).

Before your first attempt, you'll learn that SoftLayer is a hosting provider and that you'll be reassembling a miniature version of the larger server racks we have filling data centers around the country (soon to be around the world). You see that one of SoftLayer's biggest differentiators is our network configuration: A public network, a private network and an out-of-band management network connection to every SoftLayer server for free ... And when the clock starts, we can share even more of the SoftLayer story.

Our goal is to let you experience SoftLayer while you're just hearing about other companies. As it turns out, the experience draws people in:

One of the coolest parts of pulling together that time lapse video from OSCON was seeing the reactions on the faces of the participants when they finished. The challenge sparks a surge of adrenaline, so when competitors stop the clock, they expectantly check to see how they fare against the conference's Top 10 times.

In the last conference alone, no fewer than five other companies (who don't even have a connection with the hosting industry) approached us to ask how they could build their own Server Challenge. Needless to say, the Server Challenge is becoming a SoftLayer conference staple ... And we're looking forward to the hottest competition ever at HostingCon 2011 next week!

Between your study of server schematics and your dissection of the winning run's strategy from the end of the OSCON video, make sure you click through to George's HostingCon preview so you can learn where to find SoftLayer in San Diego.

-@khazard

P.S. Space is limited for the HostingCon Party, so if you'll be in town, make sure to let us know so we can give you a promo code for free admission!

July 8, 2011

HostingCon, Here We Come!

On August 8, the hosting world will converge on the San Diego Convention Center for HostingCon 2011. I'd say that SoftLayer will "be there with bells on," but a better way to put it would be that we'll "be there with megaphones." There are times to blend in and participate, and there are times when you follow Winston Churchill's advice:

"If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack."

This year, SoftLayer will be Bigger, Better and Badder in the conference sessions, on the expo hall floor and at the biggest HostingCon party ever.

Conference Sessions
We're honored to have SoftLayer employees speaking in six different sessions at HostingCon 2011:

Social Media/Branding Panel
Kevin Hazard, Social Media Ninja
9:00am – Monday, August 8
Marketing + Sales Track
The Power of Innovation
Nathan Day, Chief Scientist
9:00am – Monday, August 8
Business Development Track
Build vs. Buy: The CTO's Dilemma
Duke Skarda, CTO
10:00am – Monday, August 8
Technology + Operations Track
Small Business & Big Government: Public Policy and the Hosting Industry
Suzy Fulton, General Counsel
10:00am – Monday, August 8
Business Development Track
Clearing Up the Cloud: Hosting Providers Share Strategies for Competing in a Crowded Cloud Market
George Karidis, Chief Strategy Officer
2:00pm – Tuesday, August 9
Emerging Trends Track
How the Big Buyers Look At Acquisitions
Lance Crosby, CEO
3:00pm – Tuesday, August 9
Business Development Track

Over the next few weeks, you can keep an eye on the HostingCon Blog for more information about these sessions. To kick off the fun over there, they posted a preview to my session: "Setting Cloud Expectations Before Creating Cloud Strategy"

Expo
When you're not learning from one of our SLayers in the conference sessions above, we hope you'll swing by Booth #421 in the Expo Hall to chat with our team, get some SoftLayer swag and try your hand at the infamous Server Challenge. We'll have live video coverage of all of the action at our booth, and given the geek credentials of HostingCon attendees, we're expecting record-breaking times ... so start studying and training now to give yourself the best possible chance to win the iPad 2 we're bringing for the Server Challenge Champion!

HostingCon Party
Since you've read so attentively to this point about the 'work' side of HostingCon, it's time for some 'play.' At 9pm on August 9, SoftLayer, cPanel and Resell.biz will hosting the biggest HostingCon Party in history. 1000 lucky attendees will come together at 4th & B for networking, food, drink and THE DAN BAND!

Attendance will be strictly limited, and you watch the tickets dwindle before the event sells out at http://hostingconparty.com. SoftLayer customers, leave a comment on this blog or contact us via Twitter (@SoftLayer) and we'll hook you up with a promo code that comps your registration ... But remember, even if you're our best customer ever, you need a ticket to get in the door, so please register while you can!

Yes, Mr. Churchill, SoftLayer is bringing the pile driver to San Diego.

-@gkdog

March 23, 2011

SoftLayer Rocked SxSW 2011

South by Southwest 2011 is over. Phew. The chaotic buzz of sessions, trade show booths, concerts, happy hours and parties has subsided, so we can finally take a little time to look back at our experience in Austin last week. Our most talked about contributions to the 2011 SxSW community were our SxSL (South by SoftLayer) event at Iron Cactus on Monday and the SoftLayer Server Challenge on the trade show floor.

SxSL

If you've ever been to a SoftLayer soiree, you know that we know how to get down with our bad selves to throw a good party, and SxSL was no exception. The Cactus Room at Iron Cactus was a perfect venue to unwind after the first day on the trade show floor, and it proved to be a great setting for many interesting conversations about hosting, cloud computing and SoftLayer's plans for world domination ... err ... growth.

As you can see from a few of the pictures we took at the event, Snappy - HostGator's mascot - made an appearance, and he was quite the popular guy. He made so many friends at the party, he actually followed us back to the office in Dallas.

Server Challenge

If you followed the link to the Server Challenge at the top of this post, there's no need to reintroduce the competition, so we'll dive straight into how it went. Before I tell you what I think, listen to what @ipbrian had to say about it on Twitter: "Congrats to @SoftLayer for having the best contest and booth at #sxswi. I have NEVER wanted to repeat visit a vendor more."

Brian was a fierce competitor who pushed the limits of how fast our rack of servers could be reassembled, and prior to SxSW, he'd never heard of SoftLayer. As he hurried to reattach network cables, he experienced what we do in our data centers, and that experience is worth more than any piece of collateral we could have given him. That experience was our goal in designing the challenge, and based on our first show with it, we're confident that our goal is being met.

Some attendees saw the blazing times on our Server Challenge leader board as inspiration to complete an "Eye of the Tiger"-speed assembly while others - like the two squirrels from getacorn.com in the video below - knew they might not win the iPad 2 for being the fastest at SxSW but wanted to try anyway:

In addition to the official Server Challenge competition, we were happy to take part in Das IronGeek for the second year in a row. Das IronGeek put six press and bloggers through a series of five technology-related challenges to test their "geekiness," and the SoftLayer Server Challenge was the final "make it or break it" event to determine the champion. All of the competitors stared down the SoftLayer server rack and had a blast completing the challenge. Joshua Baer bested the other participants to become the 2011 Das IronGeek Champion, and if I were him, I'd be showing my kids the 2011 Das IronGeek wrap up for years to come.

As the trade show wound down on Thursday, our booth had a last surge of Server Challenge participants looking to reach the top of the leader board to with an iPad 2, but as you learned from Highlander, there can be only one. That "one" at South by Southwest was Erik Wagner from Netbiscuits with an amazing time of 1:08.8. When he recorded that time, we knew it would be tough to beat, so we had him complete it one more time on camera to show future generations of Server Challenge participants where the bar has been set. Even with the additional pressure of being on camera, he recorded a faster time than any other participant:

We have a few tweaks and improvements planned for our next Server Challenge competition, and we're excited to see how attendees at other shows respond.

As I write about SxSL and the Server Challenge, I'm reminded of stories about the popularity of the good ol' SoftLayer switch-ball and the hallway war we may or may not have been responsible for supplying with foam missile ammunition, but those stories will have to wait for another post. I'm still tired from SxSW sleep deprivation, and I need a nap.

-@khazard

March 14, 2011

SoftLayer SxSW Server Challenge

As the doors open to the trade show at South by Southwest (SxSW) Interactive 2011, SoftLayer is poised and ready to greet attendees with a brand new "Server Challenge" in booth 400. In previous iterations, the Server Challenge involved reassembling a single server with about a dozen components. In this challenge, we're going bigger. Literally.

In SoftLayer's booth, we have a 12U rack loaded with five servers and three network switches, and the challenge is to put it all back together as fast as possible. Check it out:

If you're roaming the trade show aisles, swing by and try your hand! Fastest time wins an iPad 2.

-@khazard

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