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Since it launched in January 2006, Softlayer Technologies has been focused on one thing: speed to market. Profitable since their eighth month of operations, the combined companies of Softlayer have tripled in size over the last four years, through 22 quarters of non-stop growth. Currently, Softlayer provides cloud computing capacity on-demand to 25,000 customers in 140 countries. In doing so, the company has consistently remained two quarters ahead of its competition by taking an innovative, automated approach to building the technology infrastructure that supports its customers and its customers' customers.

"Our differentiators are ease of use and time to market," explains Sean Charnock, VP of business development. "Our customers don't care how it works." Softlayer's philosophy is that they shouldn't have to. The company's objective is to put its infrastructure at its customers' fingertips, anytime, anywhere.

In technical terms, this translates to 2.6 million lines of code, 13 data centers, and a standardized, automated process for deploying additional compute resources in each of these data centers. Softlayer relies on an operationally efficient approach to building the IT infrastructure running its applications. This requires finding technology partners that can keep up with, and even ahead of, its needs.


In 2006, Softlayer turned to Forsythe for assistance with the day-to-day details, working directly with Softlayer's vendors. Forsythe also handles logistics, technology selection and procurement, from forecasting capital expense purchases to providing information on technologies under consideration. When Softlayer's customers demand specific feature set requirements, the company looks to Forsythe to validate the capabilities of the different products. Forsythe team members are on-site at Softlayer almost every day to ensure that questions are answered and decisions can be made without delay.

The Forsythe Integration & Configuration Center team helps manage product inventory, enabling Softlayer to have products ordered, staged and housed in advance for quick deployment without having to warehouse them on-site. Softlayer uses Forsythe's multi-vendor portal, an order tracking tool, to see open orders, confirm when product will arrive at the warehouse, review lease schedules and export all the information for asset management.

For Softlayer's Amsterdam and Singapore data center launches, Forsythe's international team worked with its local vendor partners in Europe and Asia to handle all the details from order to delivery, in compliance with local, international and U.S. regulations.

And when Softlayer needed to slow things down, in order to conduct extensive testing to evaluate a new storage platform, Forsythe drew on its strong partnerships to arrange a custom, long-term proof of concept that allowed Softlayer to fully validate the technology.

By providing operational efficiencies for massive infrastructure implementations, Forsythe enables Softlayer to move swiftly and focus on its customers' needs rather than on the infrastructure supporting them. That means that Softlayer can get a new customer up and running in 15 minutes, or turn on thousands of servers in a week. This is how Softlayer consistently stays two quarters ahead of its competitors.

Forsythe's international capabilities enabled Softlayer to launch its Amsterdam and Singapore data centers, start to finish, in under six months.

Thanks to Forsythe's assistance with its storage proof of concept, Softlayer is now implementing a new storage platform across all its data centers that reduces storage costs, simplifies management and improves recoverability.

As Bill McEvoy, Forsythe senior account manager, explains, "Softlayer is always looking to bridge the gap between providing new capacity and capabilities to customers very fast and keeping its infrastructure stable. The company accomplishes this through highly standardized infrastructure that simplifies operational processes and management. This enables Softlayer to be tremendously dynamic and responsive to their customers' enormous, ever-changing needs."
"In our world, it's either execute or get 'executed'. Customers panic, call us and say, 'I'm sure this isn't possible, but can we get 500 servers in two hours?' We smile and say yes. Forsythe has been with us since the beginning, handling major complexity in a top notch way so we can focus on our core competencies—our services for our customers."