Hawk Host Going International - Asia, Europe and beyond

Posted By: Brian Farrell

Last Updated: Thursday September 22, 2011

Got your attention with that title I hope. We’re not opening quite yet overseas, but we’re close. How close? Based on word from our provider and information on their website, pre-orders begin on September 23rd and servers go live on October 3rd in Singapore. In addition to the datacenter opening, the PoPs in Hong Kong and Tokyo will also be opening on the 3rd. As for Amsterdam, pre-orders begin on October 24th, with no official date on when those servers or additional European PoPs go live.

Q4 2011

When it comes to expanding overseas, Singapore is the first on our list. About a month after that comes Amsterdam. In addition to the Singapore and Amsterdam datacenters, there will also be network PoPs (point of presence) opening in London, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

So who benefits here? Certainly people who live in Asia and want reliable hosting in a location close to home. That’s a given. The same can be said about users from Europe. In the truest sense of the term, this is a global network. It will in one way or another reach everyone who uses any service hosted by Softlayer.

Remember those PoPs I mentioned earlier? As it stands, if you want to connect to a site hosted in our San Jose location (just an example, this applies for all locations), your ISP sends the request off their network, onto the network of a provider they peer with, then (potentially) onto a number of other networks before it finally reaches a Softlayer controlled path. This is inefficient from a networking perspective to say the least. In addition to the added latency, the more networks you traverse the higher the odds of you seeing packet loss, connectivity issues, time outs, etc. Softlayers stated goal is to have every one of their users within 40ms of the Softlayer network. Bold, but it can be achieved.

Once the Singapore/Amsterdam facilities and other PoPs are active, instead of taking all those hops through an unknown number of providers, the goal is for you to leave your ISP network and within 2 to 3 hops be on the Softlayer network. Gone are the days of hoping those limited trans-Atlantic carriers aren’t congested and going to cause packet loss. The once all too frequent connectivity issues and routing anomalies from Asia => US will disappear. That’s the plan, at least. We realize routing won’t be as perfect as we’re making it out to be (a guy can dream!) but there’s no doubt it’ll be a huge improvement over the current situation. That is not to say we see a lot of problems with our international users. Yes, there are some, but the Internet routing policies are in no way perfect.

For Singapore, it looks like Softlayer will be connected to Tier 1 providers such as Equinix, NTT, and Tata (among others I’m sure), with direct connections to existing facilities in San Jose and Los Angeles. We have no word yet on what providers they’ll be connecting with in Europe. Based on network maps, we’ll also see direct connections between London<=>New York City and Amsterdam<=>Washington DC.

All said and done, here is what the new SL network will look like:

To start, we’re going to be offering shared hosting in both Singapore and Amsterdam. Reseller and VPS services are certainly being considered but are not set in stone. That could change though depending on demand and how quickly we grow out those locations once the shared hosting is up. Pricing, features, and everything else we currently include in our plans will come with accounts set up overseas. For all intents and purposes it’ll be the exact same Hawk Host experience, only this time not based in the US.

Moving into 2012

Early last week it was announced that Softlayer has stated their intentions to open up datacenters in both Australia (Sydney or Melbourne) and Brazil within the next 12-18 months. We originally read this on Data Center Knowledge here, though I’m sure it’s been reported elsewhere. If this is true, it’s clear that Softlayer is not content with just 2 more international locations and really believes in having a datacenter for everyone. Kudos to them for sticking true to their word.

A bit of a story regarding this news. The other week I was reading Data Center Knowledge, and saw an article about Digital Realty buying up space for potential facilities in Australia. Softlayer already uses Digital Realty for a number of their existing facilities, so it’s clear they have a strong working relationship. Breaking things down even further, the major investment group of Softlayer, GI Partners, was once invested in Digital Realty prior to their IPO. The big players at GI at one point had a major stake in Digital Realty, a wholesale datacenter provider. They are now heavily invested in the worlds largest privately held server company, who relies on top class datacenters for their services. Its clear GI, Digital Realty, and Softlayer all have a very close relationship and it has consideration on where Softlayer expands.

Shortly after reading that story, I mentioned to some of our guys that I bet Softlayer will be opening up in Australia. Next thing you know, we see an announcement about their intentions to do so. No one was surprised given the ties, but this is an interesting realization none the less for the future. Now all we have to do is watch Digital Realty and keep our fingers crossed there is a Softlayer announcement shortly after :)

Wrapping Up

We know a lot of you are excited about these international locations. Obviously, so are we. We’ll do out best to spread the word as soon as we’re live in any location and accepting orders. Here are a number of things you can do to ensure you’re notified the minute we’re live:

We post all major announcements through each of those channels. So not only will you be notified once we’re live for shared hosting in Singapore and Amsterdam, you’ll be in the know for all future upgrades as well. As always, we would love to hear your thoughts on all these changes. Leave us a comment here on the blog, head over to our forums, or send us an email with anything you’d like to discuss! :)

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