Posts Tagged 'Slayers'

May 18, 2012

The Weekly Breakdown - Behind the Scenes at SoftLayer

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a renowned scholar in the field of psychology, said, "In large organizations the dilution of information as it passes up and down the hierarchy, and horizontally across departments, can undermine the effort to focus on common goals." That's one of the biggest reasons SoftLayer shares a weekly internal newsletter with SLayers in all departments and in all locations. Keeping coworkers informed of corporate activities (and "common goals") may not be very high on everyone's to-do list, but it's certainly at the top of mine ... literally. As Marketing Coordinator, I'm responsible for sending out a weekly update to ALL SoftLayer staff.

If you have a growing or geographically diverse team, rallying the troops around a shared message is a great way to keep everyone on the same page. If you're not sure where to start with your own internal newsletter, I'd be happy to dissect what goes into our "Weekly Breakdown" as an example you might build from.

SoftLayer Weekly Breakdown

The Weekly Breakdown kicks off with employee birthdays. We want to make sure all 700+ SLayers know when one of their coworkers is getting a year "better," and every month, huge birthday cakes are brought to every office to recognize the SLayers celebrating their birthdays. We haven't written a SoftLayer version of a cheesy-restaurant rendition of the classic "Happy Birthday" song, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time.


John Doe 05/17
Jane Smith 05/17
Bill Scurvy 05/18
Kermit the Frog 05/18
Miss Piggy 05/19

In addition to employee birthdays, we'll also call out important days (like SoftLayer's birthday: May 5!) in the birthday section.

The next section in the Breakdown is similar to the "Birthdays" section, but it's a little more relevant to our business: "Anniversaries This Month." When you're hired at SoftLayer, you basically get a SoftLayer birthday, and we want to recognize how long you've been a SLayer:


10 Years!!!!!!!!!!

  • John Doe

8 Years!!!!!!!!

  • Jane Smith
  • Bill Scurvy

5 Years!!!!!

  • Kermit the Frog

1 Year!

  • Miss Piggy

After we recognize the SoftLayer anniversaries, we have a section devoted to keeping employees informed of various activities going on at SoftLayer. That might be a recent press release, an update on holidays or an upcoming company event. This section is the go-to place for employees to know what's new with SoftLayer.


Did you know that SoftLayer employees can get a discount on dedicated servers and CCIs? Talk to any of our sales reps to get started. You will receive a [secret] discount off any dedicated server or a [secret] discount off any CCI!

The next few sections list available SL Job Openings, New Hires from the previous week, and Organizational Changes. Given that SoftLayer is still growing like crazy, we want to make sure all of our employees see the available positions in the organization so they can share with their network of friends or so they can see any opportunities they feel might better suit their talents and passions. It's always nice to know who is helping SoftLayer grow (new employees) and how they are growing with SoftLayer, whether vertically or horizontally (organizational changes).

The next two sections are dedicated to employees "personal" lives: Classifieds and Fundraising Events. These sections let employees list anything they are selling or giving away along with any fundraising activities or events that they, their kids, their neighbor or their dog are involved in. We've had classified items like car wheels, stereos and animal adoptions, and you can bet that employees were voraciously reading the "Fundraising" section when Girl Scout Cookie orders were being taken.

We wrap up the Weekly Breakdown with my favorite section: SoftLayer Praise. There are so many reasons why the section gives me joy. It's amazing how many wonderful comments our customers have about SoftLayer on a weekly basis, and it's a "pat on the back" for teams that may not interact directly with customers on a daily basis. Sharing all of the praise is great for morale, and those little compliments here and there go a long way to making our team continue working hard ... even if just to hear those comments again and again! Here are some of my favorite comments from the past few weeks:

SL Praise

As our business expands we look forward to working with SoftLayer on our projects for many years to come.

My server was down and did not want to come back online without an FSCK. Called support and got a real person on the phone within seconds who was knowledgeable - excellent! He was unable to get the FSCK to run so escalated it. Server Was back online within 10-15 minutes of calling. Thank you. Keep up the great service.

We have been a Customer since 2004 (since the days of servermatrix) and would like to thank you for the wonderful support that we have received over the years. Thank you for an outstanding customer experience!

Great customer services. On numerous occasions was pleasantly surprised.

You people are great!!! I am very Happy with your service. Since 1 year I never face a single server down issue.

Softlayer is the best hosting company I know of, which is why we are hosting with you. You are doing a great job.

I Love SL!

I definitely refer all my colleagues to SoftLayer. Service and quality are amazing!

@SoftLayer always has the coolest stuff at trade shows. I have a shirt from them that is cool enough for me to wear in public!!

SoftLayer it's been wonderful. We been having softlayer rocket battles ... #SENDREINFORCEMENTS

Those kinds of comments can put a smile on any SLayers face! :-)

If you have any wonderful comments to say about SoftLayer or an individual employee, don't be scared to tell us ... Your comment might just be featured in our next "Weekly Breakdown." Comment on this blog, use SoftLayer's "Get Satisfaction" page, tweet @SoftLayer or post to our Facebook page. We love to hearing from you and working hard to remain the "best hosting company [you] know of!"

As you can see, the Weekly Breakdown covers a lot of SoftLayer goodness in a given week. It takes a little work to keep a 700-SLayer organization on the same page, but that work pays off exponentially when the team is able to share accomplishments, praise and goals. I'd highly recommend you trying your own weekly internal newsletter ... Now leave us some SL praise!


May 2, 2012

Social Media and the SoftLayer Server Challenge

I've been working at SoftLayer for almost ten months now, in my relatively short tenure, I've written hundreds (if not thousands) of tweets covering a broad range of topics and events ... As a Social Media Coordinator, it's an integral part of my job. Given what I've learned about hosting in the past year, I'm constantly surprised by how second-nature this intimidatingly technical industry has become. I guess that's what happens when you're immersed in a technology-focused company like SoftLayer.

Beyond sharing technical news and content about what's happening in the world of cloud computing, I'm also responsible for keeping our customers in the loop about all of our trade shows, conferences and events. If you've been to a technology trade show in the past year, you probably saw SoftLayer. We sponsor, attend or exhibit at more than sixty events every year, and it feels like I have been to them all. I know the ins and outs of every event on our schedule well before it begins, regardless of whether that event's down the street or in an exotic location like Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, Amsterdam or London (Interesting fact: In the past week, we had events in all of those locations).

Social media is one of the ways our customers and followers can keep a pulse on SoftLayer's activity and growth. We travel the world to share how we help customers Build the Future, and as a part of the social media team, I get to help introduce that conversation. Let's use Internet World as an example.

Last week, a group of SLayers traveled to London to attend Internet World. To prepare for Internet World, I tried to schedule and share as much relevant content about SoftLayer with the #iwexpo audience to generate awareness and drive traffic to our booth. At larger shows like Internet World, we typically have a conference session or speaking engagement, and on the expo hall floor, you'll usually see a crowd like this one milling around our booth:

Internet World 2012

The Server Challenge generates its own social media — from word-of-mouth "you've gotta try this" conversations at the show to the typical "social media" channels like Twitter and Facebook. The gamifiction of rebuilding a miniature SoftLayer server rack is one of those interesting, entertaining and innovative ideas that seems to be unique to the mad scientists at SoftLayer. Invariably, the competition "ain't over 'til the fat lady sings," and at Internet World, we had the most dramatic competition conclusion ever ... But we'll get back to that in a minute.

From a social media perspective, the folks who stop by SoftLayer's booth want to watch the leader board as the show progresses. The expo hall may be open for several days, so it might be tough to keep an eye on the Server Challenge leader board ... Attendees then trust us to keep them informed via social media. Every day, we post the latest times to beat, and when we look at our analytics, it's wild to see the number of people clicking through to see the current top ten times. It doesn't seem like much, but a few hundred people at Internet World wanted to know what this table looked like throughout the whole show:

Internet World 2012

The top two times you see on the final leader board caused the late-show dramatics. Joseph Waite clocked a fantastic 1:03.68 to secure the top spot on the board in the middle of Day 3 at the show, and Rob McEwen stepped up to the challenge for his Day 3 attempts about 10 minutes prior to the scheduled close of the expo hall. With about 25 onlookers, Rob stopped the clock on his second attempt with a time of 1:02.14 ... Good enough for first place.

The problem: One of the drive trays was not installed all the way.

Because we want to make sure the winner has everything installed correctly in the fastest time, we had to add 5 seconds to his time for the mistake, and we gave him one more chance to complete the challenge to be fair to him. Unfortunately, the final attempt didn't beat Joseph's 1:03.68, so the new iPad was destined for Joseph. While Rob was a little bummed, he understood the reasoning for the decision, and he committed to stopping by our booth next year to win his iPad outright.

I was a few thousand miles away from all of this activity, but I felt like a major part of it given my social media involvement in tracking and sharing the latest updates. The best part of my job is when I get to interact with our customers, whether it be face to face or virtually. I want the messages you see on @SoftLayer and to be entertaining, interesting and helpful. We want you to feel connected to what's happening at SoftLayer and what we're all about.

Speaking of giving you insight into "what we're all about," I can't wrap up this blog about Internet World without sharing a little "insider" information about the SLayers at the booth: They're pretty competitive. They ran their own internal Server Challenge:

Internet World 2012

And if anyone is curious about the fastest time we've ever had in the Server Challenge, you can see it right there at the top of the list. Though to be fair, Kevin's probably done it a few thousand times.


October 2, 2011

SoftLayer is Coming to Town

As many of you know SoftLayer is going global. Our Singapore DC goes live TOMORROW, and Amsterdam will follow suit shortly, so we put together a little "jingle" that I think you might know. It might be September, but if the stores are already putting out holiday items, Christmas songs should be fair game in October ... And since we are entering that last stretch of work before those great end-of-the-year national holidays that give us a few days off, we can use a classic tune to help us power through.

To those of you who love the song, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," you may not want to play the video below. To those who want to rubberneck at our goofiness and join us in a little fun ... play away:

If you want to sing along at home (because who wouldn't?), here are the lyrics for your karaoke pleasure:

SoftLayer is Coming to Town

You better watch out!
Competitors cry!
They're gonna pout
I'm telling you why,
SoftLayer is comin' to town

We're setting up racks
and hiring staff
We're gonna open up our Singapore branch
SoftLayer is comin to town

We're not only in Asia
We'll be in Europe too
We know that you've been waiting for this
So don't miss our big debut.

You better watch out!
Competitors cry!
They're gonna pout
I'm telling you why,
SoftLayer is comin' to town.

With two data centers and two network PoPs
Shiny new servers and cables wired up
SoftLayer is comin' to town.

DC CRAC Units that condition and cool,
Power and network in the SoftLayer Pods too.
SoftLayer is comin' to town.

The SLayers and our clients
will have to celebrate.
We're expanding SoftLayer's footprint,
Far beyond the United States.

You better watch out!
Competitors cry!
They're gonna pout,
I'm telling you why,
SoftLayer is coming to town.

Shout-outs go to all the SLayers who indulged us in this little song. We hope it's less embarrassing than you expected ... And if it's more embarrassing, we hope it's as terrible and catchy as "Friday."

Tip: If the song is stuck in your head now, one great way to distract yourself from it is to go and order a server in Singapore!


August 4, 2010

All in the Family

Any place you spend hours upon hours every week, you tend to get to know people pretty well. During my time on my shift, I’ve gotten to know my fellow SLayers quite well. You learn their favorite foods (I’ll tell you right away what almost everyone on my shift orders from our favorite Chinese deliver place – almost like clockwork), their choices in music, their favorite computer games (yes, WoW tops this list, seemingly a standard in the IT Industry), and even how they react in certain situations. While the operations team is a tight knit group, we also have our extended families in SLales, InfoSys, Dev, and the other departments.

As many know, they recently opened up our new HQ. Yes, it’s as awesome as every has said it is. Lance made it a point to acquire a Sonic-style ice machine, our facilities are state of the art, and the building is just simply awe-inspiring. I suppose you could consider it our new home. As a new home, we’ve recently brought all of our departments together under one roof. Operations can grab a quick break with SLales, Dev can bounce some questions off of the CSAs or SBEs simply by walking a few feet, and even better, the friendly trash talking and joking just got easier (we’re a family, of course we’re going to mess with each other every chance we get!).

I’m sure employees everywhere are akin to this metaphor, but here it seems to ring true. We have our family quarrels, we know each other like the backs of our hands, and when things get heavy, we’re there to watch each others’ backs to ensure the mission is accomplished, and we continue to dominate the hosting industry.

February 1, 2010



Ask anyone here on our staff, and they’ll tell you a few things about their position:

  1. It’s never boring
  2. It can be quite demanding
  3. We’re never technically “off duty”

That being said, we all need our fuel to keep us going at warp speed. Luckily at the NOC we’re lucky enough to have a fully stocked break room with all sorts of odds and ends to keep us going when the energy levels get low. Allow me to show a few of my personal favorites:

  1. Chocolate Covered Raisins
    These little buggers are great when you’re running like mad and just need a quick snack. You can scoop up a good cupful and keep them at the desk for the remainder of your shift. You can take a little detour to grab a couple while en route to your destination. You can also trick yourself into thinking that they’re healthy since they have raisins in them.
  2. Doritos
    These have made a reliable meal substitute on multiple occasions. A few bags of these can trick your hunger pains and quiet the ache for a few until you can grab an actual meal (not always a guarantee).
  3. Coffee
    Any fan of caffeine knows why I’m adding this. It’s often the first thing ingested at the start of the day, and is famous for its energy-inducing properties. Love it or hate it, you cannot deny the eye-opening effects of this one.
  4. Dr Pepper
    My second favorite carbonated beverage provided here. A quick drink and a quick pick me up.

And for my favorite:


Much like many of the techs here, I have a clinical addiction to caffeine. Caffeine is the lifeblood of the NOC and keeps us working at top speed and form. To date, I have found no quicker delivery of this than through the 8.2 ounce can of this elixir.

And there you have it. These are the snacks and beverages provided that keep me going. And while it’s no health food store, it certainly spikes the blood sugar or caffeine levels enough to sustain a happy and proficient technician through the long night hours.

October 5, 2009

Outstanding Tech Recognition: Droid Awards

Here at SoftLayer, we keep the culture fun, entertaining, challenging, and sometimes a bit left of center! In the same vein as the Star Wars motif ( we have started awarding techs that go way above and beyond. Techs at SoftLayer are already some of the best in the industry, so this is a way to keep it fun and challenging- and nerdy! Let me tell you, I had a realization when getting the Star Ware figures, that I am now an adult and could just buy everything!

Here is how the awards went down..

(in the voice of General Grievous)


For those droids not destroyed in the line of duty or beheaded for undisclosed reasons (cough cough) rewards are in order!

Droid Awards are presented to a tech for outstanding work in the line of duty.

The awards are Star Wars "Droids."

But in our universe, SoftLayer is the ruling entity, of course! And all Droids have the SoftLayer logo.
Right now, there are 3 Droid Awards:

Super Battle Droid Award
The Super Battle Droid Award is given to a tech who, like the Super Battle Droid,
does his job better than average all the time. Techs with this award are considered a workhorse,
and respected by their peers for always taking care of business no questions asked.
Assassin Droid Award
The Assassin Droid Award is given to a tech who,
like the Assassin Droid, knocks one specific project or task out of the park, or "assassinates" it.
Techs with this award take control of one specific high profile issue, own the problem, and see it through to the end.
Destroyer Droid Award
The Destroyer Droid Award is given to a tech who, like the Destroyer Droid,
consistently rolls into situations, takes control, and "destroys" them.
Techs with this award look at the bigger picture, and go outside their realm of job description,
making sure projects and tasks are completed with proper prioritization, no matter how many.
Awardees frequently think like a manager and are quick to help coordinate workload among fellow employees.

Techs that receive an award should be respected- these awards are not given out lightly. So be proud if you receive one, strive to get one if you have not, and congratulate all who are adorned with them!

Scott Minyard, a Dallas Server Build Engineer was the first to receive an award, the Super Battle Droid Award!

Congratulations, Scott, for being one of the great employees of SoftLayer!

October 14, 2008

The Great Debate: SLayers


Welcome to The Great Debate: Part Deux. The SLayer blog. It is really going to be hard for me to complete this one as I am a SLacker by heart. After my previous blog I found that there might be more SLayers than I thought or so I have been told. All the SLales folks seem to be SLayers. I think they like to believe with their mad skills they can SLay the competition, quite like SoftLayer does as a whole. Some people just don’t want to be associated with the term SLacker because of the unbeknownst to me negative connotation. Who would have thought being a SLacker could be a bad thing. All this SLacking we do around here is great but this blog is about the darn SLayers we have around here.

The SLayers are an interesting bunch; take Doug Jackson in SLales for instance, he is your typical college educated frat boy jock. The bad part is I am not sure if we was in a frat or not, but I would put my money on it that he was. He is a SLayer to the core. He likes getting customers the best deal for their money and the technology they need to succeed. He also has a deep SLayer desire to succeed himself and is the master at the VFB and other moves. Would you expect anything less from a “Type A” super SLales guy who I am guessing spends at least 24 minutes a day on his hair style alone? I wouldn’t.

In our new STAT (SoftLayer Technical Assurance Team) group we have Justin Scott, he is also a SLayer. Ok, I pressed him a little on this and he claims he is a SLacker striving to be s SLayer. Not sure why he would want to switch his stance but it could be that he thinks it makes him tougher to be a SLayer. I just don’t see the thought process there but he is always thinking way outside of the box I tend to live in. I mean, who takes a perfectly good truck and guts it and puts all electric stuff in it to make it go. I guess you could say he is SLaying those gas prices with his electric dreams. Justin’s outside the box thinking is what makes him great for STAT and our customers. If you have a tricky technological nightmare in need of a solution, he can get it SLayed!

We really do have SLayers in every group in Development, Accounting, etc. In the NOC we have SLayers that are Slayer fans and then others that are Slayers fans! That is a quite a range if you ask me.

The great thing about SoftLayer is that be you a SLacker, SLayer, or even a SLoser (like Don) :-) everyone is a team and welcome to come here and show off their smarts! If you are interested in finding out more about our opportunities send your resume to us, but be sure to tell us up front if you are a SLacker or a SLayer!

I am Skinman, and I approve this message.


September 28, 2008

The Great Debate: SLackers

At SoftLayer we have long been calling each other names (TRUST ME!). There are two that we tend to greet each other with as we walk the halls. You can either throw out “SLacker” or “SLayer”. Why you ask?

If you are an avid fan of all things SoftLayer, the Facebook page, the forums, and The Innerlayer, then by now you have heard the term SLales. We have lots of “SL” terminology here. There is the SLiki, the support wiki, there is the fantasy football league run by operations called SLoperations and the not as popular SLupport team (SLupport is a tongue twister it seems). So along those lines both terms seem to fit nicely.

When I started this blog I decided that I would ask around to see what everyone preferred and you would be amazed, it is about 50/50. The most interesting part is the loud and proud way you receive the response and it is often accompanied by the VFB, an elbow or maybe by the person “throwing three bars”!

Three Bars

I do have to point out that HR gave the canned “no comment” answer, so I will leave it at that, HR is always so professional. So let’s begin the debate and dive into the differences in a two part series. Today we will discuss the SLackers.

Every company has their fair share of Slackers but at SoftLayer we have SLackers! The difference you ask? SLackers are everything SoftLayer. They eat and breathe SoftLayer. They are SLackers to the core. They love to work hard, drink caffeine, work a little more, and play around at the office quite a bit. I would dare say that if you visited our offices or our data centers today you would see more smiles than you have in a while. They crack jokes, and make fun of each other, they blog about each other and the goofiness that they get themselves into and it makes work seem like play. They do that and at the same time respect each other and understand that they are surrounded by some of the best and brightest in this industry and in each individual department as well. They do all of this SLacking for you, the customer!

If you have seen the movie Slackers then take the passion those characters had for slacking off and their passion for beating the system, reverse it, and then apply it to 100% customer satisfaction and you will begin to understand how much they love to SLack! Everything they do is for the customer. If you ever feel like they have done something in error please let any one of them know however you can and they will do their best to take care of you with the utmost SLack.

Our culture might be the coolest around and the best part is we don’t have to talk about it, have endless meetings about it, advertise it, and beg people to drink the SLacker punch like some companies, it just happens. We have fun. We work hard. And we SLack off as much as we can for every customer. You can tell by my blogs that I am one of them; a Red and Black blooded SLacker and I am very proud of that fact.

It is now time for me to quit goofing off writing blogs and get back to SLackin! Next up, The SLayers!


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