Posts Tagged 'Training'

July 6, 2012

My Advice to Myself (A New Server Build Technician)

When I started at SoftLayer, I had no idea what to expect. As I walked from the parking lot to the front doors at SJC01, I started to get nervous ... I felt was like I was stepping onto a stage, and I was worried about making a mistake. I took a deep breath and walked in.

Now that I look back on my first day (which was about a month ago), I have to laugh at my nervousness. I'm not sure what I expected to encounter, but the environment I entered was probably the most welcoming and friendly I've ever seen. Two of my coworkers, Cuong and Jonathan, recently shared their experiences as SBTs in San Jose, but because I have some recent first-hand experience that's still fresh in my mind, I thought I'd share my own perspective.

If I were able to talk to myself as I nervously approached the San Jose data center on my first day, this is what I'd say:

As you'd expect from any new job, your first day at work involves a lot of learning (and paperwork). You're probably chomping at the bit to get out into the data center to start building servers, but you need to crawl before you walk. The first thing you need to do is get the lay of the land ... You get a guided tour of the office, the data center and your workspace. Even if you've worked in a data center before, you're going to be surprised and impressed with how everything is set up. Once all of your paperwork is in order, you start learning about SoftLayer's business and how you contribute to the customer experience. Once you understand the big picture, you can get into the details.

You're given a training guide that goes over many of the processes and procedures that are followed on a day-to-day basis in the data center, and you're shown all of the components you'll be working with as you build, upgrade and manage server hardware. You might not be performing much work on hardware in production in your first few days, but you're going to learn a lot and have plenty of time to ask questions. While you're learning how to perform your work tasks, you're building friendships with your coworkers, and you're officially becoming part of the SoftLayer family. Your fellow SLayers support you and help you make sure SoftLayer's customers are getting the service they expect.

You're taught everything you need to know, from staying organized and focused to best practices around working with servers. You have nothing to be nervous about.

I've only been with SoftLayer for a short period of time, but I can confidently say that working here is remarkable. I don't feel like an "employee;" I feel like a team player. I feel like everyone is on the same page about what needs to be done in the data center, and whenever questions come up, answers are given quickly.

I'm excited to come to work every day. I would have never dreamed I'd feel this way because I was always told jobs are long and drag-out boring, but my experience has been the polar opposite. Now, When any of my friends complain about getting up and going to work, I recommend they visit http://www.softlayer.com/about/careers.

-Jackie

June 19, 2012

Proud to be a SLayer

Changing a career can be a challenge, especially when it feels like you are starting from scratch. I know that feeling well. I'd always been interested in networking, IT and cloud computing, but it wasn't until I joined SoftLayer that had an opportunity to start building a career on top of those interests. I know you might've already read a few introductions and SoftLayer culture posts in the past, but I wanted to share my experience in joining the hardware tech team to give my own unique perspective on what it was like becoming a SLayer.

Like Jonathan, I joined SoftLayer in San Jose (SJC01), and despite my interest in the technology SoftLayer manages for customers on a day-to-day basis, I didn't have many of the skills I'd need in the data center. That's where the training program came into play ... I can't tell you how valuable it was to learn how SoftLayer approaches cloud and data center operations. My previous jobs were in manufacturing, so I was accustomed to working with hardware and machines, so after a bit of a learning curve, I started to feel comfortable with the instruction and hands-on challenges that were put in front of me during the training program.

Once I was able to start applying what I learned in training, I started feeling "at home" when I got to the data center. I'm one of the many people responsible for supporting data center operations, and while I'm more of a "hands on" person, I don't forget the "big picture" of the significance of that responsibility. SoftLayer servers are the lifeblood of businesses around the world, and I owe it to those customers to provide the best service I can when it comes to managing their hardware. If that starts feeling daunting, I can look to my peers and ask questions about any problem, and I know I'll get a quick, helpful answer. I know SoftLayer is built on innovation and automation, but the unstated "education" piece is what has appealed to me the most as an employee.

One of my favorite resources to consult on a daily basis is the SoftLayer wiki — SLiki. If I ever forget any technical specifications or get confused about how to configure a specific type of hardware, I fire up my browser and hit the SLiki. If I'm not sure how to troubleshoot a given transaction or want to learn a little more about a topic like cloud computing or object storage, I can search the SLiki and get the answer in no time.

When friends and family have asked me what it's like to work at SoftLayer, I tell them that I'm constantly amazed and impressed impressed by my coworkers. It's hard to explain in a way that doesn't sound corny, but everyone I work with seems to enjoy supporting customers, interacting with other SLayers and making the SJC01 data center run like a top.

Pretty recently, I had my first Truck Day, and it made me love working for SoftLayer even more. It was pretty awe-inspiring to see SLayers from every department in our office joining the SBTs at the loading dock to unpack, sort and rack a huge shipment of SuperMicro servers. Everyone was sweaty, and I'm sure a few people were pretty sore the next day, but after all was said and done, we all felt like we'd accomplished something significant for our customers.

I'm proud to be a SLayer.

-Cuong

June 14, 2012

My First Week as a SLayer in San Jose

As I write this post, I'm finishing my first week as an employee with SoftLayer. It might seem premature, but I think it's safe to say that it's the best job I've ever had. My friend Marcos gave me a great reference to get my foot in the door at SoftLayer in San Jose (SJC01) as a Server Build Technician (SBT), and I owe him a LOT for that help. Because first impressions are usually pretty significant, I thought I'd take a few minutes share my short experience with the company to provide a bit of perspective to anyone interested in "what it's really like" to work at SoftLayer.

To give you the best picture of what it's like to work at SoftLayer, I have to start with the other SLayers I've met. So far, my coworkers and supervisors have been easy to get along with, and they clearly know their stuff. SoftLayer's "Challenging, but not Overwhelming" motto isn't just for show ... I've got a long way to go to catch up with my peers when it comes to knowledge about the data center, but everyone around me has been so supportive that it doesn't feel too intimidating. The work environment is very casual, and while the tasks at hand are all serious, my coworkers are always telling jokes and fostering a friendly and welcoming work environment.

The second aspect of the job I should focus on is the day-to-day responsibilities I'm learning how to perform. In the data center, we're responsible for building and performing hardware maintenance on all of our customer servers, and a lot of our customer interaction is done via tickets. When a ticket is added to our data center queue, it's pretty wild to see an SBT claim it quickly and immediately spring into action. If a customer orders a new server in our facility, and that server configuration isn't readily available, we get notified, and we have to move quickly to make a hardware change so the server can get provisioned in under four hours. That's been my favorite part of the job so far.

I've always enjoyed putting computers together, so being able to do it on such a large scale (and having the chance to do it a few times per day) is a thrill for me. Even though I've built more than my share of computers in my lifetime, I still find myself learning a lot from the processes and procedures Softlayer has in place. It's pretty cool to see the inventory of high-power server hardware we have in our spare parts room, too.

Being new to a job usually involves a span of time where you feel like a "new guy," but that hasn't been the case at SoftLayer. The crew here at SJC01 has made me feel at home quickly, and they've been patient and helpful when I've had any questions. In fact, as I'm thinking about it, I can't say anything negative about my experience so far with Softlayer.

I'm excited about integrating into the team, and given how much my coworkers hang out during lunch, breaks and after work, I'm sure that'll happen quickly. I want to put on a big office potluck where I can bring down my barbecue grill and cook for them some afternoon ... And given SoftLayer's love of BBQ, I'd imagine that would be a big hit.

Man, all this talk of food is making me hungry.

-Jonathan

October 25, 2008

A Battle Worthy of the Coliseum: SoftLayer Technical Support

SoftLayer Technical Support technicians train continuously for the challenges that are inherent in supporting the vast array of products that SoftLayer offers. Besides training individually in their time away from the NOC, technicians are always talking about issues they have seen, and the resolutions they implemented.

Knowledge gained by one tech in tackling and conquering a specific issue is shared with all for the betterment of the team. Like a gladiator in the bowels of the Roman Coliseum of old preparing for his fight, the SoftLayer Support technician must be ready to do battle. Disciplined cross-training is the order of the day; mental and physical preparation is key. A technician must enter the halls of a SoftLayer datacenter ready to conquer whatever comes through the gates! It is truly a battle worthy of the Coliseum.

You might ask how a day in the SoftLayer NOC resolving technical issues compares to a battle fought in the Roman Coliseum. Well, if you measure a “battle” by the excitement and tension in the air ... the blood, the sweat, and yes, at times, the tears, the pain of defeat, and the celebration of victory, then SoftLayer Technical Support technicians are definitely involved in a true battle worthy of the Roman Coliseum on a daily basis.

Picture, if you will, a well-trained, focused individual walking into the Dallas Infomart with his security badge in hand. He is not there to pass the time or participate in some mind-numbing repetitive task. He is there to do battle with a beast named Technology. With a strategic plan in mind, he enters the elevator preparing himself mentally for what surely awaits upon entering his cubicle. As he opens the door to the NOC, he is greeted by his fellow “warriors”. Some are weary from battle, yet have a sense of satisfaction about them as a Roman Soldier of old looking across the battlefield at his conquered foe.

The stories of a multitude of battles won, and maybe even a few lost, are recounted. The technical warrior packs some sustenance from the chow line (the loaded NOC break room refrigerator), and settles into his chariot he likes to call a cubicle, pulling out his weapons, a keyboard and mouse, and bringing up the battlefield onscreen. He begins with the speed of a cheetah typing more and more furiously as each ticket darts to and fro trying to elude him. The warrior is undaunted. He will not be defeated today. Yes, he may need to look to his comrades in arms for assistance in flanking the enemy, but in the end, as a team of highly trained warriors, they will prevail.

This day will not be without its casualties, but the warrior must always repeat to himself, “I will not let our customer’s down. The enemy (technical issues) will not prevail…not on my watch.”

As did the citizens of Rome, I take great pride in our warriors and the superior way in which they continue to win battles for the glory of our customers. The inspiration for this writing came from a recent victory in which a warrior named Stefanus (Steve) stood in victory after wrestling with a beast of an issue, which he finally destroyed while the customer rejoiced and his wealth increased. All the warriors: Krishenus, Jamesus, and Samuel gathered around Stefanus to congratulate him on his victory. Of course, they all knew that the ultimate victory was enjoyed by the SoftLayer customer.

-David

June 26, 2008

New Kid in Town

Well, I have been here working for Softlayer for a week and it has been GREAT. Not great... UNBELIEVEABLE! I just graduated from ITT just down the street in Chantilly, Va with a degree unrelated to what I am doing right now. To be honest, I was afraid that I may not do too well with Softlayer, because of the material and positions they train for. I have quite a history with trouble understanding basic computer terms and how computers and electroncs work.

My brother is like a GOD in my family with electronics. He picked out our family PC, set up our wireless system, and fixed my laptops multiple times (I have had 4 in the past 3 years...) and he was a full-time CSA for a conference center while he was in high school. He tried to teach me and help me understand what he's doing when he works on computers and I just couldnt process it in my mind. It just doesn't click.

My very first class in ITT was Intro to Personal Computers. I got an A in classwork and homework by writing the papers and turning them in, but I couldnt even understand what I write. I did not do too well in tests and final exams and ended up with a B. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldnt make sense of what I'm reading in the books. We never did lab work, it was all just books and papers and black and white pictures.

My first day at Softlayer, I was very nervous. I thought the day would not end very well. Robert Guerra was my trainer for the first half of the week. He did an AMAZING job explaining EVERYTHING about the company, what my job is and parts of the server and everything in between. He did 500 times better than my teacher in college. Everything clicked almost right away. Of course, I did not remember every single thing the first time, it just had to be repeated to make everything perfect. I remember driving home with a HUGE smile on my face and saying "I LOVE this job!"

I never expected to be doing IT work, and I just think this is AWESOME! The facility looks amazing and everything is in tip-top shape and everything is very well organized. I have not worked in a cleaner environment until I got to Softlayer. There are not very many people in the WDC facility yet, but I have gotten to know many of them here and I feel very comfortable.

My other issue here is communication. Spark is a GREAT communication tool for the whole company of SoftLayer and it is helping me out a TON. I love the fact that we use instant messaging to communicate with Dallas and Seattle divisions and sort out problems and I love how everyone is friendly to one another. I cannot use a phone because of my hearing impairment and that is one reason why it is really hard to find jobs for me. A lot of job positions require someone to use a phone or radio and that cancels a LOT of opportunities for me. When I had to deal with that situation with one of my previous jobs, I had to pull someone aside and ask them a favor and help me out with phone use. Not a lot of people like to be pulled aside REPEATEDLY. Spark will help me rely on myself to talk to people myself and get all of the job done!

Thank you Robert Guerra and Eric Antonio for training and putting up with me for the past week! I have one more week of training to do with Eric and I am going to stop at nothing to make Softlayer proud.

-Clayton

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