A date with SoftLayer cloud: 5 impressions

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Last Sunday afternoon, I logged on to the development system of a customer application to double check a customer demo that I had been preparing for the last two weeks to be held the next morning. To my surprise, the system had stopped due to some overnight patch updates.

Now because it was the weekend, it was not realistic to expect support from my administrators, so I had no other choice than to look for an alternative solution. I still had the new IBM acquisition of SoftLayer on my mind. I started to find out about SoftLayer and thought about giving it a try to see if it was an option for the new demo setup.

I chose to spend my evening with SoftLayer instead of with my wife. Guess what? Here are five things that really impressed me.

1.     Variety of options: SoftLayer provides a variety of offerings. You are not just bound to virtual machines (VMs) as SoftLayer also provides bare metal instances. Additionally, there are different options in public VMs like multi-tenant or single-tenant, which I found to be very innovative. Private cloud is another option, but I did not explore it further.

 2.     Eat according to your appetite: The selection of compute resources is flexible and agile. Unlike other providers where you have some pre-built combinations of random access memory (RAM), central processing unit (CPU) and disk, here it’s fully à la carte. Choose what you want and upgrade or downgrade if you need to do so later. This reminded me of a restaurant where the price of a dish is taken as per the quantity weight.

 3.     You know what’s under the hood: I liked the variety on SoftLayer’s storage options. Where other providers hide the storage implementations, the SoftLayer choices are very transparent and provide storage options like network-attached storage (NAS), storage area network (SAN) and local disk. This can also help you in meeting performance and design in case of failure.

 4.     Free online round-the-clock support: I was bit hesitant to open the chat window more than once, wondering if the team would entertain a customer with a second question. To my surprise, the support representative was very prompt and did not bother to ask if I was an existing customer. This feeling was even better than happy hour where you at least have to pay for one drink.

 5.     Flex Images: Though I took the VM option, this application would have performed better on bare metal. I have found that SoftLayer provides a feature called Flex Images by which one can shift between VM and bare metal very easily.

So with all these efforts, I got the pickings of my choice in 40 minutes, and it took me another four hours to do the setup. My application was ready by evening. To ensure a backup, I created template images just to avoid any further risk.

The next day, the demo went pretty well. All it cost me was $14.65 plus the priceless efforts on the weekend. But at the end, I was on “SoftLayer nine” (or cloud nine).

Do you have any other findings on SoftLayer cloud? Leave a comment below.

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