Breaking Bad


by Natalie Miller • @natalieatWIS

SoftLayer steals the show at IBM Pulse

Published February 26, 2014


SoftLayer was the belle of the ball at IBM’s Pulse conference in Las Vegas this week. IBM acquired the private infrastructure-as-a-service company eight months ago and immediately began picking up momentum around cloud.

SoftLayer now has more than 20,000 customers and is growing fast, according to Sean Poulley, Vice President of Databases & Data Warehousing for IBM. And 130 million gamers run on SoftLayer every day.

The cloud conference boasted growth in many areas, from increasing development speed and efficiency in the cloud with BlueMix, increasing web scalability with Cloudant’s database-as-as-service, and infusing power into SoftLayer with three Watson applications—Watson Discovery, Watson Engagement Advisor and Watson Developer—all provisioned by SoftLayer and available in the cloud.

The Loft Group, an Australian startup, has been taking advantage of SoftLayer’s open source and flexible infrastructure since late last year. “The relationship is the reason we went with SoftLayer,” says Gavin Russell, Executive Director, Loft Group. “We assessed the technology and validated that it would be the right fit for us, but ultimately it was the fit with IBM and all these other technologies that could be brought, such as BlueMix and Cloudant, that will be highly beneficial to us.”

Russell explains that database modeling was highly expensive, and by moving to the cloud, they now have a scalable solution that is far more cost effective.

The SoftLayer backstory
Lance Crosby, founder and CEO of SoftLayer, spoke about the origins of the company and the bold moves he made with a group of colleagues in 2005. The idea what would later become SoftLayer was launched onto the road to success with a single email from Crosby to 11 of his coworkers in May 2005.

“We met at 7 a.m. that morning, and as we huddled around like we did often, we talked about what was wrong with technology. It’s hard to use, confusing, customers don’t understand it. How can we do it better?” says Crosby. “I pitched the concept to the other 11 members that we could simplify it, we should make it consumable, downloadable, and offer it without contract.”

Over the next 90 days, Crosby and nine others who had boldly resigned from their jobs to work on the project, focused on coming up with a concept using their experience with building hosting companies. However, explains Crosby, hosting wasn’t the direction they wanted to take this new venture.

“We wanted to build something different; something that didn’t exist,” says Crosby. “They had to forget about the way they used to do things.”

The concept was to put together all the data centers, the servers, all the hardware, the firewalls, the san storage, etc., and put an abstraction layer on top, offer it via an API and make it consumable without a contract. The group began to develop it and, after rejections from dozens of investors, put their own money in and continued their work.

SoftLayer finally went live in January 2006, years before any competition came to market. Their first customer was an online gamer who wanted to connect to APIs, have control over the environment and scale the company. Today, SoftLayer offers the gamut of single- and multi-tenancy, bare metal, public and private clouds, spans across multi-geographies, is fully distributed and gives control and transparency throughout the entire environments.

With IBM, SoftLayer’s global footprint is growing—by the end of 2014, SoftLayer’s infrastructure-as-a-service offerings will reach 40 geographies worldwide, says Crosby.

“You will be able to pick and choose where you want to deploy your services worldwide, because it’s not only important where you need your workloads, it’s important to get close to your customers,” says Crosby. “Our vision was to build the ingredients of the Internet and expose it via an API. We knew there were going to be two channels of business. We were going to replace existing workloads that were going to be run on premise and we were going to give those customers the ability to build new things that did not exist.”

With SoftLayer’s infrastructure, matched with IBM’s SaaS and PaaS offerings, thousands of ingredients are being offered to customers to build and customize. Born-on-the-web companies such as Tumblr have built their entire infrastructure on SoftLayer, explains Crosby. By the time Tumblr was acquired by Yahoo, they were adding 50 physical nodes a day and a petabytes of storage a week. 

What’sApp is the most recent, and made big news last week with the announcement that Facebook acquired the messaging app startup for $19 billion. Companies across industry lines are taking advantage of what cloud has to offer, and it’s only the beginning. IBM will continue to add to its cloud portfolio and give developers and business owners the ingredients to take their business to the next level, says Crosby.

‘Breaking Bad’ breaks records with the help of streaming in the cloud
Speaking of bold moves, Vince Gilligan, the creator of the television show ‘Breaking Bad,’ took the IBM Pulse stage to talk about how the cloud and streaming media launched the show into the Guinness Book of World Records. The AMC drama focuses on a high-school chemistry teacher who, after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer, turns to cooking meth as a way to make money to leave to his family. Season 1 averaged a million viewers an episode. By the end of season 5, it averaged 6.5 million viewers, and the final episode attracted over 10 million viewers.

“If not for the cloud, if not for streaming, I don’t think you all would have heard of me,” says Gillian, explaining that due to the hyper-serialized nature of the show, without streaming, it would have been difficult for to grow viewership at the rate mentioned. “In a typical broadcast situation … there’s only so many ways you can catch up (with missed episodes). With the streaming that we have now with this SBOD technology, we can catch up to it anytime we want and consume episodes of our favorite TV shows like potato chips, one right after another.”

For more details on IBM Pulse announcements and the latest cloud developments, and what this means for customers, check back to Insights Magazine.



No one has commented on this item.