Q & A with Lance Crosby, CEO, SoftLayer

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Note: We are currently posting the top 10 posts of 2013 today through Jan. 3. This post is #5 on the list and was originally published June 4, 2013.

Today, IBM announced a definitive agreement to acquire SoftLayer Technologies, Inc., the world’s largest privately held cloud computing infrastructure provider. We asked SoftLayer CEO Lance Crosby three questions about the significance of today’s announcement. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: What’s significant about IBM’s announcement to acquire SoftLayer?

Lance Crosby

A: It’s significant in a number of ways. It’s easy to see how our portfolio complements the IBM cloud portfolio. Customers and clients from both companies will benefit greatly from being able to get a higher level of choice and a higher level of service, now from a single partner.

But more important, the real significance will come as we merge technology that we developed within the SoftLayer platform with the power and vision driving SmartCloud to pioneer next-generation cloud services. Despite it seeming like everyone is “in the cloud” by now, it’s still the early days in this technology revolution. What the cloud looks like and what businesses are doing with it will change even more in the next two years than it has in the last five. This announcement puts us in a great position to shape the future of cloud services.

Q: What is something you’d want folks to know about SoftLayer?

A: If I had to name the aspect that most defines SoftLayer, it would be that we are relentless about automation. There have been shortcuts that we could have taken and quick bucks that we could have made by creating manual processes or providing one off services, but we went the long way or took a pass because we knew it’s more important in the long run to have the strongest, most scalable, most controllable foundation on which customers can build whatever they want.

So we have three networks grafted into one, all of our services within a unified API and under a single pane of glass, and the first thing we ask about any innovation we consider is “can it be automated?” That’s not always the easiest way to do it, but for us it’s the only way.


Q: What unique benefits does SoftLayer bring to IBM’s cloud portfolio?

A: Well, we really do things differently than anyone else in this space. In simple terms, we have built out data centers around the world, filled them with the best performing computing, storage and networking gear, tied them to each other with a secure global private network and then to the world with high-performance Internet connectivity. But the difference really comes from our management system, IMS,  a unified “operating system for the data center” that runs and integrates everything just mentioned.

And that means we can do things no one else can do. We provide bare metal dedicated servers with the same delivery model as virtualized cloud instances: self-service, on-demand, pay by the hour or month. We can give you a virtualized server in our public cloud, or set you up with a complete private cloud of your own, again, all at the push of a button. And it’s all connected together across our private network regardless of location or compute type. So you can mix and match public and private workloads, physical and virtual machines, truly integrate it all, and deploy and manage all of it on demand for superior performance, flexibility, and control.

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