SoftLayer Review – Web Hosting Services

More companies are choosing to outsource their web hosting to external providers. Providers like SoftLayer cater to large companies and those who need high-performance across numerous website while other providers target a more diverse population. We reviewed SoftLayer’s web hosting service pricing, performance, plan offerings, and customer support and compared it with three other impressive web host providers and made several interesting observations.

What Is SoftLayer?

SoftLayer is an International IBM acquired company which offers web hosting services to large business with many websites. They provide infrastructure and expertise to large companies around the globe. Since merging with IBM, their offerings are even more impressive.

SoftLayer guarantees 100% uptime and has 17 geographically diverse locations. They offer flex images to capture server images. Unlike standard image templates, flex images are device neutral and can capture and replicate both bare metal servers and virtual servers.

SoftLayer offers a suite of developer suite of platforms: APIs, application services, Blockchain, Cloud Foundry apps,  Data & Analytics, DevOps, Finance, Integrate, Internet of Things, Mobile, Network, and Watson. You have a variety of operating system options: CentOs, Debian, Microsoft, Redhat or Ubuntu operating systems. Clients can also pick from a suite of platforms, servers, and configurations and they have full control through their customer-friendly portal and application programming interface.

Clients can choose between SoftLayer’s bare metal server and virtual server options. SoftLayer’s bare metal server package is for clients who want their own dedicated server while their virtual servers are for customers who rather save money by “renting space” on a physical server with other customers (multi-tenancy).

SoftLayer offers three general server tiers: Lite, Pay As You Go, and Subscription. The Lite package comes with one virtual server instance and 256 MB of Cloud Foundry memory. It appears to target technical users like developers. We tested the Pay As You Go tier with the configuration and pricing calculator on the new IBM site.

SoftLayer offers high-performing servers, auto-scaling, a wide variety of hardware configurations, and multiple platforms fit for any company’s need. Though their services target deep-pocket corporations, they offer an entrepreneurship program with free credits so they can use their powerful platform.

Product Specs

SoftLayer offers powerful servers. Here is their base server configuration: Intel Xeon E3-1270 v3, Single Intel Xeon E3-1270 v3(4 Cores, 3.50 GHz), 8 GB RAM (32 GB maximum), Up to 4 Internal Hard Drives, Up to 10 Gbps maximum Port Speeds, XT/TPM.

Their most premium server configuration is the Octa Intel Xeon E7-8890 v4(24 Cores, 2.20 GHz), 8192 GB RAM, Up to 29 Internal Hard Drives, Up to 10 Gbps maximum Port Speeds, Redundant Power Supply) SAP Certified.

Pay As You Go bare metal server customers have 87 server configuration options. Though the options may appear overwhelming, they have a price calculator, and companies who use their service have their internal IT subject matter experts manage service calculation.

Service configuration options work as a filter, narrowing down the server options as the client chooses them. Clients can select their data center location, monthly or hourly pricing, core count, processor count, max RAM, processor series, processor speed, max network speeds, max internal drives and ancillary options like TXT/TPM, redundant power supply, GPU, and SAP certified units.

The virtual server package options include public, transient, reserved, and dedicated. The public virtual servers have multi-tenancy, and the transient virtual servers offer “spot” pricing  (lower prices) for unused capacity on a multi-tenant service. Reserved virtual servers allow a client to reserve up to 20 specific virtual server instances on a multi-tenant server to guarantee space. If you want single tenancy, you can choose a dedicated virtual server.

Performance, state-of-the-art tools, support, seamless access, and flexible offerings leave the right customers satisfied; however, it is not a practical service for sites such as blogs or low traffic sites.


Bare metal plans base (pre-configuration) price range from around $375 to $25,270  and their VPS Pay As You Go base (pre-configuration) price range from about $25.00 to $15,121. We have no insight into their subscription-based plans, pricing, or user reviews.

How It Compares

We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.

  • SoftLayer
  • Bluehost
  • HostGator Cloud
  • SiteGround


factory oranges


  • Bare metal plans base (pre-configuration) price range from around $375 to $25,270
  • Their VPS Pay As You Go base (pre-configuration) price range from about $25.00 to $15,121.


SoftLayer offers powerful servers, redundancy and multiple-server location. They offer a wide range of servers to meet virtually any client need.

Hosting Plans  

Plans are client-specific. You can get a free plan and contract-free (pay as you go) plans. There is no cost-effective plan for smaller sites, and their subscription-based plans lack transparency.


This web hosting company offer superior support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year via chat, phone, and ticket-based support


  • Premium support comes standard
  • Impressive hosting plans for large companies and those running multiple sites
  • Software and hardware is fully customizable
  • Have plans that do not require a contract
  • Leverages IBM’s powerful platform


  • Not suitable for small businesses
  • Subscription-based customer pricing not available
  • Typical services like Cpanel is not free


man an woman representative


Bluehost is a popular web hosting provider that has been around since 1996 and hosts over 2 million websites all over the globe. They have shared, cloud, VPS, and dedicated hosting plans suitable for diverse customer population. Bluehost is a recommended WordPress provider and offers three plans for WordPress hosting. You can get a hosting package for as low as $2.75 for the first year. They provide competitive plans in every tier, allowing customers to upgrade as they grow.

Their cPanel is user-friendly allowing you to manage your websites, domains, emails, files, and tools from one central location. Their shared plans offer unlimited emails, automatic backup, and one-click date restore features.  They also provide multi-server management if you have multiple accounts, and need advanced capabilities like Secure Schell (SSH) access, custom .htaccess, files, cron jobs, and php.ini files. Their content delivery network (CDN) automatically increases site performance and is free to those who want to use it.

You can add on others services to your shared hosting plan including SiteLock, domain privacy, and unique IP addresses. Blue host offers three shared hosting packages: Basic, Plus, Choice Plus, and Go Pro. The Basic, Plus, and Choice Plus packages include SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, SSL, and standard performance. Their Go PRO shared plan comprises a high-performance server, domain privacy, and two spam experts.

Their cloud hosting plans are safer, faster, and scalable. With cloud hosting your website is a cluster of servers instead of just one so that if you have problems on one server, your site seamlessly migrates to another server. Bluehost’s cloud service offers data mirroring, integrated caching, resource monitoring, instant scaling, and automated failover.  Their internal technical support group takes care of security issues, port access, and all server issues.

Their virtual private and dedicated servers target larger clients but are much more economical than SoftLayer services.


  • Starting at $7.99 $2.95/month


With a 99.99% (proven) uptime and page loading at 424ms, Bluehost gives you speed and reliability across all their packages

Hosting Plans  

They offer various plans with excellent options for smaller sites. Their sites are cost-effective, and they provide impressive cloud hosting plans.


They offer 24 hours a day, 365 days a year customer support and have different support lines for general support, VPS and dedicated hosting, and for their WordPress packages. You will get prompt support; however, customer support is not always knowledgeable.


  • Inexpensive
  • Great hosting packages
  • Great performance
  • recommended


  • Customer support lack technical knowledge
  • Migrating to Bluehost is not free. Most web hosting providers transfer your services at no charge.

HostGator Cloud

snappy chat tech

crdts: cloud-hosting

HostGator is an excellent choiceoffers web hosting services for a wide range of customers. If you are a small business or a large enterprise, they have a package for you.  They offer Cloud, WordPress, VPS, and dedicated hosting services. Their plan subscriptions range from $5.00 to $111.00 a month (introductory and base level pricing). If you have another web host provider, HostGator will transfer your domain for free (read the details on their website).

Their clouds services are impressive starting at $4.95 (introductory offer). Their business cloud plan starts at an impressive $9.95 and they offer a dedicated IP at this price. You can update your package with tools like video conference, CodeGuard, SiteLock, and G Suite.

HostGator is an excellent choice for businesses who value performance, discount pricing, website copy that is easily understandable, and  tons of features on the plan like free migration, daily backup, and automatic malware removal


  • Hatchling Cloud $4.95/mo
  • Baby Cloud $6.57/mo
  • Business Cloud $9.95/mo


Their uptime average is near perfect at 99.99% and their page load time is less than 419ms. HostGator cloud’s service is both stable and fast.

Hosting Plans

Their web and sales copy is not intimidating to understand by non-technical users. The cloud plans are packed with features at no additional charge.


They offer 24 hours a day, 365 days a year customer support via chat, phone, and ticket support. They offer tutorials and a support community for technical users.


  • Uptime reliability
  • Great page load performance
  • Easy to understand website, marketing, and sales copy
  • Great pricing for cloud hosting
  • Great customer support


  • The “special” prices can be misleading
  • They are not active on social media


3d origami crane

crdts: siteground

Site ground is an impressive web hosting provider that boasts official recommendation from, Joomla and Drupal. Their remarkable performance is partly due to having a diversely located data centers across the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Unlike many of their web hosting peers, SiteGround custom build their web solutions to make sure their web hosting platform is stable, secure, fast, and user-friendly. Their customer support is impressive. They offer multi-lingual support and hold a steady 96% customer satisfaction rating.

SiteGround offers full-service platform management on all of their WordPress Hosting sites. Customers do not have to worry about performance, security, updates. They have one of the best customer support team highly rated for availability, skills, and helpfulness.

Their impressive WooCommerce plans take the complexity out of implementing an e-commerce site. They pre-install and manage all the software you need for the site. Other notable offerings include auto updates, daily backs, and PCI compliance.

Their cloud hosting monthly packages start around $80 to $240 per month which appeals to larger companies and technology companies. If you value performance and customer service, then add SiteGround to your shortlist. They are also an excellent choice if you have a WordPress site with our without e-commerce capabilities.


  • Wed Hosting: StartUp $3.95/mo, Growbig $5.95/mo, GoGeek $11.95/mo.
  • WordPress Hosting: StartUp $3.95/mo, Growbig $5.95/mo, GoGeek $11.95/mo
  • WooCommerce Hosting: StartUp $3.95/mo, Growbig $5.95/mo, GoGeek $11.95/mo
  • Cloud Hosting: Entry $80.00/mo, Business $120.00/mo, Business Plus $160.00/mo, Super Power $240.00/mo.


Their uptime average is near perfect at 99.99 and their page load time is less than 714ms (faster than the average page load times for other web hosting providers.

Hosting Plans  

Their web and sales copy is not intimidating to understand by non-technical users. The cloud plans are packed with features at no additional charge.


They offer 24 hours a day, 365 days a year customer support via chat, phone, and ticket support. They offer tutorials and a support community for technical users.


  • Affordable pricing
  • Uptime reliability
  • Great page load performance
  • Excellent customer support
  • High-Performance on all WordPress Site
  • Recommended by
  • Free security add-ons
  • User-friend e-commerce installs
  • Free transfer of an existing account for free with a previous host.


  • Setup fee for monthly billing
  • Limited storage space


We gave SoftLayer a 4 out of 5 rating with caution. They do not cater to simple blog sites or most small businesses. While they have great customer service feedback and top-of-the-line equipment and software tools, their service is customer-specific. They appeal to larger, subscription-based clients and we do not have insight into their configuration and pricing.

Their superior customer service, sophisticated infrastructure, custom plans, and tools make them a top contender for their target market. They offer customer flexibility and contract-free plans. Their infrastructure makes it possible for customers to scale as their enterprise grow.

Some of their fee-based add-ons may leave you puzzled given their high-priced plans, but their all-around Class A business model makes up for it. Their biggest strike comes from their lack of budget-friendly hosting plans.  Overall, this company has a target market and few (if any) web host companies in their class can compete with them.






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