Posts Tagged 'Team'

October 28, 2011

3 Bars | 3 Questions: Singapore

It's been a few months since the last 3 Bars 3 Questions with "The Mitch," and between then and now, a lot has changed in the SoftLayer world. The biggest difference: Our technicians have traveled around the world to build out data centers in Singapore and Amsterdam. I joined SoftLayer as general manager of the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, and when I took a trip to Dallas to meet the rest of the team, Kevin was able to convince me to answer a few questions on video about what's been going on in Singapore:

Asia is the largest growth market for SoftLayer right now, and the flood of orders we've had to keep up with in our Singapore branch is a testament to the customer demand in that region. With our ambitious growth plans and early successes in SNG, you'll be seeing a lot of SoftLayermobiles delivering servers around the world pretty soon. Maybe we need a SoftLayerOceanTanker?

When I made trip to Dallas, I met Jonathan Wisler, another newly hired SLayer responsible for the Amsterdam data center and our future Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) expansion. Because I didn't want him to feel left out, I selected him as my successor in the next 3 Bars 3 Questions interview.

If you have any questions about SoftLayer in Asia, our Singapore data center or Singapore in general, just let me know.

-Michael

October 23, 2011

The Importance of a First Impression

How many times have you heard that making a good first impression is everything? This is so true in many circumstances – from a blind date to a job interview to meeting the future in-laws. The first few moments are critical. There are a few things that help when making that first contact:

  • Smile
  • Present yourself honestly and openly
  • Be positive, confident and courteous.

I remember when I applied to SoftLayer back in April of 2010. I was working for one of SoftLayer's competitors at the time, and one of my previous coworkers moved over to SoftLayer. He made mention of what a great company SoftLayer was and that I should think about applying. After submitting my resume, I received a call from the data center manager to come in for an interview at the DAL01 location. I prepared myself to make the best first impression I could. I heeded the words of my father saying, "A firm hand-shake goes a long way." After my initial interview, I was given a tour of the one of the server rooms:

Servers
Servers

I was completely blown away by the organization and structure of the server room. I was overly impressed with how organized the work benches were, how the crash carts all had their place, how everything was labeled, how all the cables were bound up neatly, and how the automation system was in place to do the everyday, menial tasks. Here I was trying to impress the DC Manager with my skills and but I can honestly say I was more impressed with SoftLayer. It left a definite first impression on me.

I drove home after the interview thinking I would LOVE to work for this company. When checking my email a short time later, I found an offer letter from the HR department! I started for SoftLayer a few weeks later as a Customer Support Administrator. My next "first impression" of the company came when I walked into the break room and noticed all of the amazing snacks provided to employees. I opened up the refrigerator to place my lunch bag and realized that SoftLayer provides soft drinks and energy drinks to keep their SLayers hydrated. I joked with the DC manager that "SoftLayer should put this information in the job description as a company benefit."

Although making a good first impression is important, making a lasting impression can set you apart from your competition. SoftLayer is a cut above the rest from the other hosting providers out there. Whether you are a new customer or a long-time customer, you have to agree that SoftLayer makes fantastic first and lasting impressions. And just like this blog post, you can't help but tell other people about the SoftLayer difference.

-Greg

October 21, 2011

Why Don't You Work Here Yet?

I started my career with SoftLayer in March 2011 as a Server Build Technician, and after a few short months, I can safely say that coming here was one of the best moves I have ever made in my life. I have worked in a number of different jobs ranging from retail to shipping, but in my heart, I always knew I wanted a career in computer technology. SoftLayer made that dream come true.

When I started, I felt a bit overwhelmed with the amount of information I had to learn all at once. That feeling quickly subsided during the first week as I realized how the work environment and culture is built on employees who take great pride both what they do and the knowledge they are able to pass on to newcomers. I knew I was in good hands. I felt like I was a part of an elite group of intelligent, inspiring, funny, energetic and down to earth people.

Through the interactions I've had with my direct coworkers, my knowledge has grown tremendously, and I feel more confident in meeting and exceeding the expectations and responsibilities in front of me. The original SoftLayer culture is alive and well thanks to the efforts and example of the management team, and it doesn't take long to notice that this company has a passion for customer service, and we strive to be the very best we can be. Because of the encouragement and optimism I have been given, I see a bright future for me here.

As our operations expand, I can't help but get excited for the success in store for the business, our team and our customers. We're ready to embrace new challenges, and though the tasks seem daunting, I know our team can handle them easily. I take great pride in my work, and I'm quick to tell the SoftLayer story to anyone who will listen. The company motto is, "Innovate or Die," and every employee – from Dallas to Amsterdam to San Jose to Singapore – lives and breathes that motto daily. We're pushing the limits of what a "hosting company" can do, and we're having a lot of fun doing it.

I feel honored to say that I am a part of the SoftLayer family, and if you're in the market for a new job for an awesome employer, you should head to SoftLayer Careers to find which of the 50+ positions you'd fit so you can join us in Dallas, Houston, San Jose, Seattle, Singapore, Amsterdam or Washington, D.C.

We are SoftLayer!

-Anthony

October 17, 2011

New Data Centers, Barbara Streisand & "Da Bobby G"

Dealing with jet lag, unfamiliar surroundings, foreign currencies and different languages just begins to describe my hectic life over the past two months. We've been in overdrive, building out SoftLayer's Singapore and Amsterdam data centers in weeks (rather than months).

Our "Go Live Crew" of 16 dedicated SLayers has been working 'round the clock to make sure everything is up and running on time. The biggest challenge has been building out both data centers simultaneously ... With the "Go big or go home" mindset, when we decided to go international, we went all in. Our growing customer base of 23,000 won't stand still, so we need to deliver, whether it be through innovation or expansion. In less than 60 days we've been able to add 31,000+ servers to our network platform, bringing our unique cloud, dedicated and managed hosting solutions closer to our customers around the world.

This accomplishment has been something of a "miracle," and I really need to shout out to my team members on the GLC. Putting in 16-hour days and working weekends while still finding time to go out on the weekends (Jägermeister and Red Bull have been sampled at many a fine pub) has made us a pretty close-knit family. The old "work hard, play hard" saying is an understatement when it comes to the SoftLayer team.

If we're ever dragging a bit in the morning, we can always rely on Duck Sauce to get our pulses racing again by the time we get to the data center. With such a full work schedule, we become creatures of habit, and "Barbara Streisand" is only one example of a staple for the crew. Our daily consistency has even carried over into meal time: My favorite luncheon spot in Amsterdam even named a sandwich after me – Da Bobby G Meat Sandwich. Apparently the combination of meatballs, salami, ham and (a smothering of) ketchup on a bun is not a common order at this establishment, so my innovation needed to be recognized. Nutritional considerations aside, this is one fine sandwich:

Da Bobby G

I've been on the road for a while now, and these are just a few memories I'm taking with me. Jumping around between three continents has definitely had its challenges, but with a great team of focused SLayers, we've been getting the job done. I'm proud to have had a hand in making our international aspirations a reality, and I know that even though this has already been an unbelievable adventure, we're just getting started.

-Robert

October 3, 2011

Global Expansion: Singapore is LIVE!

I write this message while overlooking the International Business Park in Singapore. The desk I sit at faces east; the sun is now on the opposite side of the building and our new Singapore office is starting to cool off, but it's eerily quiet here on the 6th floor.

SoftLayer Singapore

SoftLayer Singapore

Our new Singapore General Manager Michael Ong is in Dallas meeting the rest of the SoftLayer team, our new Server Build Technicians (SBTs) are on the data center floor assisting the Go Live Crew (GLC) and the inventory team is indexing and organizing of the mountains of gear we have in the Large Parts Room (LPR).

SoftLayer Singapore

Thinking back just 30 days, we were getting early access to our two data center suites. Our four ocean containers were unloaded and waiting for us in the LPR, and the members of the GLC from Dallas, Houston, Seattle and Washington, D.C. had their steel toe boots on, hard hats in place and dragging a little from the 14 hour time change. The GLC has worked tirelessly to get this data center online.

SoftLayer Singapore

SoftLayer Singapore

Our success on the ground was far from a standalone feat, though. The steadfast support, backing and encouragement from everyone back home enabled our successful launch. Many departments and individuals spent tireless nights on the phone and on email helping us through issues. I can't overstate the importance of their support and willingness to step up to get things done. Without their help, the data center certainly wouldn't look like this:

SoftLayer Singapore

SoftLayer Singapore

SoftLayer Singapore

Our first international data center and office are worth celebrating, but it's important to realize that our work doesn't stop today. It's critical that we continue to support the Singapore office like we do our other offices and data centers around the U.S. We are depending on the local team to run the daily operations, and they're depending on us to provide them with the necessary guidance to keep the gears in motion. This is not a fire and forget mission — we are now truly a global company.

While we sweep up the imaginary confetti from the floor in SNG01 (since we'd never let real confetti in the DC), we know that the GLC in Amsterdam is on the ground getting our first European facility ready. The ocean containers have been delivered and racks are being built. It's time to get some rest and sleep fast ... We've got another data center coming online soon.

To all our new Singaporean team members: Welcome to SoftLayer. We're excited and proud to have you join our team. To everyone that supported us: Thank you again from the very bottom of our hearts. To our customers: Enjoy your new SoftLayer servers in Singapore. And to our competition: This is just the start.

3BFL.

-@toddmitchell

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

May 9, 2011

Will Write Poetry for Servers

Two weeks ago, I inadvertently opened the floodgates to a wave of creativity from the SoftLayer Development/Technology organization. Lance came by my office and dropped off a server he was given, and while I would have taken it home, souped it up and done something cool with it in previous years (or decades) in my life, I find myself in more of a "just buy an iMac" camp now.

Rather than endanger the safety of our employees by sending out a "First one to grab the server from my office gets to keep it" email, I sent out more of a challenge: "Write a haiku or limerick stating why you want the server. If I get more than one submission, I’ll pick the best poem. Oh ... And no Nantucket limericks."

I expected one or two entries to come in, but to my surprise, I was greeted with dozens almost immediately:

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

There was a young man with a lance
Who had three kids to finance
Yes they look and they see
Asking for a PC
But their dad said no not a chance

Linux or Windows
Not up to how the wind blows
The penguin's a go

When you’re whipping your verse into shape
And are caught in a verse-challenged scrape,
The delete key is handy.
Assisted by brandy,
And last, but not least, try escape.

Given the overwhelming initial response, we sweetened the deal a little by adding a second server to the mix (from George). When it came time to judge and announce the winners, I had to do so with my own poem ... which killed me because I hadn't written a poem in years.

My inbox laden
Server Poets bring me pride
Rewards were doubled

There once was a SLayer named Bradley
Whose poem was flattering badly
He said 3BFL
We said ‘Oh, What the Hell’
And gave him a server quite gladly

Among numerous entries we found
That nerdy rhymes and rhymers abound
And so many came forth
Our hand was quite forced
So to the contest more servers were bound

Thus also a Slayer named Hemsell
Was chosen to leave with a morsel
Wash the zeros away
Rip and store CDs today
Make this sad server sing loud and fell

With generous swagger Karidis did add
A prize sure to make the cable co mad
For Scott Thompson’s poem
Was moving and solemn
An Apple TV should not make him sad

And finally the team of Hannon and Chong
Grammar and spelling and format all wrong
But their desire so true
And coding poetry new
Request will be supported so strong

Translation:

Server Winner: Bradley Johnson

One, two, three bar life
Free drink, free shirt, free server
Movie files need home

Server Winner: David Hemsell

CDs sit offline
Once proud server is no more
Fill barren zeros

Apple TV Winner: Scott Thompson

Your free server will
fail to bring much joy to me
I use Macintosh

Additional Computer-Related Award of Some Kind: Chong and Harold

import com.softlayer.server;
public class freeAssetReserver{
   int count = 0;
   String you = “hero”;
   function void vmBoxOursObserver();
}

Congratulations to Bradley and David for winning the servers and to Scott Thompson for walking away with the unadvertised Apple TV! When we were going through the submissions, we couldn't help but reward the submission from Chong and Harold - A coding limerick!

We'll post more of the submissions in the comments on this post, so be sure to scroll down and add your own!

-Duke

May 3, 2011

SoftLayer's Android Client Gets an Extreme Makeover

One of the things you expect when you merge two organizations in the same vertical space is for your talent pool to get deeper. SoftLayer had a seriously talented bunch of developers before the merger - I should know, I consider myself one of them - and as I was promised would be the case, after the merger, we were joined by an equally talented group of engineers from The Planet. Where we had two low-level developers, now we have four. Where we had a dozen guys with .NET experience, now we have twenty. It's better for us employees, and better for our customers too.

What I didn't expect as part of the merger was that our talent pool would get wider. No, I don't mean we now employ an army of body builders and Siamese twins. I mean as result of the merger, we ended up with an entirely new group of folks here unlike any SL previously had on the payroll. This new and exotic breed of folks - new and exotic at least from my perspective - are collectively known as "user experience" engineers.

I admit (and I suspect most software engineers will concur) when I develop something, it becomes my baby. Each software engineer has his or her own method for inciting that spark of genius ... I start out with some ideas on a yellow pad, refine them until I can whip up an actual spec, code some unit tests and wait to see if my baby takes its first step or falls flat on its digital face. Either way, over time with gentle nudging and TLC, eventually an application grows. And like any loving parent I'm certain that my application can do no wrong.

So when I was told a "usability study" would be done on one of my babies by the user experience, team you can imagine what went through my mind. After all, I was there when the first API call succeeded. I was the one who got up in the middle of the night when the application got cranky and decided to throw an unhandled exception. Who the heck are these user interface specialist and what do they know that I don't?

In retrospect, I couldn't have been more wrong. I am a professional coder with more than a decade of experience under my belt. But I'm often more interested in how I can squeeze a few more CPU cycles out of a sub-routine than how much easier it would be for the user if I rearranged the order of the GUI's a little bit. The user interface review I received really got me thinking from a user's perspective and excited about the application in a way I hadn't been since the early days when I banged out those first few lines of code.

Two weeks ago, we released a new, radically different looking Android client. If you are a current user of the application, you've undoubtedly received an OTA update by now, and I hope you are as pleasantly surprised by the result as I am. For those of you with Android phones who have not installed the SoftLayer client, I encourage you to do so. You can get more info by visiting http://www.softlayer.com/resources/mobile-apps/.

Before I let you go, what kind of father would I be if I didn't take out my wallet and bore you to tears with pictures of my children? Without further ado, I present to you the latest and greatest Android Mobile Client:

SL Android App

SL Android App

SL Android App

SL Android App

-William

Categories: 
April 18, 2011

Before They Were SoftLayer Data Centers

Ever wonder what a SoftLayer data center looked like before it became a SoftLayer data center? Each one of our facilities is built from a "pod" concept: You can walk into any of our server rooms in any of our facilities around the country (soon to be "around the world"), and you'll see same basic layout, control infrastructure and servers. By building our data center space in this way, we're able to provide an unparalleled customer experience. Nearly every aspect of our business benefits from this practice, many in surprising ways.

From an operations perspective, our staff can work in any facility without having to be retrained and the data center construction process becomes a science that can be replicated quicker with each subsequent build-out. From a sales perspective, every product and technology can be made available from all of our locations. From a network perspective, the network architecture doesn't deviate significantly from place to place. From a finance perspective, if we're buying the same gear from the same vendors, we get better volume pricing. From a marketing perspective ... I guess we have a lot of really pretty data center space to show off.

We try to keep our customers in the loop when it comes to our growth and expansion plans by posting pictures and updates as we build new pods, and with our newest facility in San Jose, CA, we've been snapping photos throughout the construction progress. If you've been patiently reading this part of the blog before scrolling down to the pictures, you get bonus points ... If you looked at the pictures before coming back up to this content, you already know that I've included several snapshots that show some of the steps we take when outfitting new DC space.

SoftLayer San Jose Data Center Construction

The first look at our soon-to-be data center is not the flashiest, but it shows you how early we get involved in the build-out process. The San Jose facility is brand new, so we have a fresh canvas for our work of art. If I were to start talking your ear off about the specifics of the space, this post would probably go into next week, so I'll just show you some of the most obvious steps in the evolution of the space.

SoftLayer San Jose Data Center Construction

The time gap between the first picture and the second picture is pretty evident, but the drastic change is pretty impressive. Raised floor, marked aisles, PDUs ... But no racks.

SoftLayer San Jose Data Center Construction

Have no fear, the racks are being assembled.

SoftLayer San Jose Data Center Construction

They're not going to do much good sitting in the facility's office space, though. Something tells me the next picture will have them in a different setting.

SoftLayer San Jose Data Center Construction

Lucky guess, huh? You can see in this picture that the racks are installed in front of perforated tiles (on the cold aisle side) and on top of special tiles that allow for us to snake cabling from under the floor to the rack without leaving open space for the cold air to sneak out where it's not needed.

SoftLayer San Jose Data Center Construction

The next step in the process requires five very expensive network switches in each rack. Two of the switches are for public network traffic, two are for private network traffic and one is for out-of-band management network traffic.

SoftLayer San Jose Data Center Construction

Those switches won't do much good for the servers if the servers can't be easily connected to them, so the next step is to attach and bind all of the network cable from the switches to where the servers will be. As you'll see in the next pictures, the cabling and binding is done with extreme precision ... If any of the bundles aren't tightly wound, the zip ties are cut and the process has to be restarted.

SoftLayer San Jose Data Center Construction

While the cables are being installed, we also work to prepare our control row with servers, switches, routers and appliances that mirror the configurations we have in our other pods.

SoftLayer San Jose Data Center Construction

When the network cables are all installed, it's a pretty amazing sight. When the cables are plugged into the servers, it's even more impressive ... Each cable is pre-measured and ready to be attached to its server with enough length to get it to the port but not too much to leave much slack.

SoftLayer San Jose Data Center Construction

One of the last steps before we actually get the servers installed is to install the server rails (which make installing the server a piece of cake).

SoftLayer San Jose Data Center Construction

The servers tend to need power, so the power strips are installed on each rack, and each power strip is fed from the row's PDU.

SoftLayer San Jose Data Center Construction

Every network and power cable in the data center is labeled and positioned exactly where it needs to be. The numbers on the cables correspond with ports on our switches, spots in the rack and plugs on the power strip so we can immediately track down and replace any problem cables we find.

SoftLayer San Jose Data Center Construction

If you've hung around with me for this long, I want to introduce you to a few of the team members that have been working night and day to get this facility ready for you. While I'd like to say I could have done all of this stuff myself, that would be a tremendous lie, and without the tireless efforts of all of these amazing SoftLayer folks, this post would be a whole lot less interesting.

A funny realization you might come to is that in this entire "data center" post, there's not a single picture of a customer server ... Is it a data center if it doesn't have data yet?

-SamF

April 9, 2011

7 Keys to Startup Success

We recently announced a partnership with the Tech Wildcatters Incubator Program, a Dallas-based "microseed" fund and startup accelerator, and we couldn't be happier with the results we've seen thus far. Much of the press coverage of the sponsorship focused on the $1,000/mo of cloud, dedicated or hybrid hosting solutions we offered the program's startup companies, but the most exciting aspect of the relationship thus far has been getting to engage with the participating up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

Having been in their seats about six years ago when SoftLayer was born in a living room, the SoftLayer team is especially qualified to give insight about the struggles and successes of running a startup, and that aspect of our partnership is where we hope to provide the most value. Over the past few weeks, we've met with the current Tech Wildcatters participants and seen some of the amazing ideas they have in the works, and we're pumped to see them succeed ... By all accounts, we can't really call SoftLayer a "startup" anymore, but our investment in this community reinvigorates the startup culture we've tried to maintain as the company has grown.

Recently, I had the chance to share a few "Keys to Success" with program participants, and since those thoughts might be interesting for other startups and small business users, I thought I'd share some of the highlights here. There are no "guaranteed win" formulas or "super-secret secrets to success" in business (regardless of what an infomercial at 3am on a Tuesday morning may tell you), but these ideas may help you position your business for success:

1. Hire people smarter than you.
Your goal should be to get people on your team who can handle specific responsibilities better than you can. Just because you're running the business doesn't mean you can't learn from it, and the best people to learn from are brilliant people.

2. Hire a diverse group.
Different people think differently, and different perspectives lead to better conversations and better business decisions. Filling your organization with one kind of employee will lead to a lot of "That's the best decision ever" moments, but whether or not that "best decision ever" decision is good for anyone else is a crap shoot.

3. Founders should put skin in the game.
With all of the startup company trials and tribulations, you want everyone on your team to have a vested interest in the business's success. Clock-punchers and coasters need not apply.

4. Boot-strap the beginning.
Along the lines of the previous recommendation, if you've remortgaged your house or sold your car or maxed out your credit cards on a new business, you're going to care a lot more if it fails. By boot-strapping your initial financing, you become even more accountable for your success.

5. Operate with financial sense, operational sense and common sense.
Balance your business responsibly. If you disregard any of those "senses," your tenure as a small business owner may be relatively short-lived. When it comes to financial sense, I also recommend that you invest in professional accounting support and software to save you a ton of headache and heartache down the road when it's time to go after "real money."

6. CBNO - Challenging But Not Overwhelming
You can always do something more for the business. You and your team should be maximizing your efforts to grow the business but not at the expense of burning out. If you've got "skin in the game," your threshold for what is overwhelming may increase, but you have to understand the need for balance.

7. Have fun and make money.
In that order. If you're not having fun, it doesn't matter how much money you make. Startups are run by passionate people, and the second you lose that passion, you lose a significant piece of what makes your business or idea great.

I touched on about a dozen more points when it comes to how to orient your business to your customers, but I'll save that bit for later.

CBNO

-@lavosby

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