Review: SoftLayer's cloud is fast and flexible

SoftLayer brings fine-grained configuration options, high performance, and interesting extras to the self-service cloud

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MongoDB in the cloud
SoftLayer is seeking to bottle this advantage in a different way. The company is creating its own bundles of bare-metal machines and installing MongoDB on them on top of CentOS. A monthly fee of $359, for instance, buys a four-core machine that's ready to run. You can also purchase a support subscription from 10gen through SoftLayer. You pay for some of this expertise from the beginning because SoftLayer designed the server package with 10gen's guidance.

The MongoDB boxes are one of many offerings; a content delivery network, load balancers, and firewalls are also available. Plus, you can store your data as objects in SoftLayer's object store, which is built using a version of the OpenStack Swift object store. The metadata for the objects are indexed, making it a bit easier to find what you're looking to get. The object store's integration with the content delivery network makes it a bit simpler to serve up the same data again and again throughout the cloud. Storage is 10 cents per gigabyte, as is outbound traffic.

There's yet another interesting feature that's hidden from these endless menus of choices. SoftLayer gives you your own private network for back-channel communications among your machines. Each server has one address for talking to the Internet at large and one for talking just to the private network. If you want to keep some servers in the background, out of view of the Wild West of the Internet, you can open up the ports on this private network. This channel makes it simpler to enforce some rules by locking out the public Internet in one swoop.

This adds up to a large collection with all the options you'll need to build out your server farm. The flexibility to pick and choose just how much memory and cores you need is much greater than SoftLayer's main cloud competitors, casting the entire process as a bit of a throwback. You're not grabbing a commodity block of computing time that's more or less the same as every other block. You're building out a server and adding extra features, all using prices that are measured by the hour or by the month. It's a welcome reminder of the flexibility the old server sales force used to offer the enterprise customer.

This article, "Review: SoftLayer's cloud is fast and flexible," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in cloud computing at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.


Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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