CenturyLink Cloud Delivers a Paradigm Shift in Customer Care

September 28, 2015
By Lyza Latham

Michael Talbert, Customer CareWhat's so different about how CenturyLink Cloud approaches Customer Care? Well, just about everything.

I sat down with Michael Talbert, the mastermind behind all our Customer Care initiatives, to find out what makes this team so unique and so successful.

"We've approached the idea of supporting our customers from a whole new angle... It's about empathy, taking care of customers and solving problems. It's way more than just technical support."

Lyza Latham: Michael, tell me what’s the big difference in how CenturyLink Cloud approaches Customer Care?

Michael Talbert: One of the things that’s frustrating for customers, particularly technical customers, is having to explain a complex problem to someone who isn’t technical. The traditional industry approach to Technical Support is to initially have the customer speak with a generalist. If the generalist can’t solve the problem, the issue is escalated—sometimes in multiple, painful increments—to more and more technical tiers until eventually the problem is resolved. We take a totally unique approach, with three key differentiators:

We staff our team with senior service engineers who can handle 90% of issues at the first contact. As long as the issue doesn’t require a code change, we should be able to resolve it within that first engagement. Our interview and screening process puts the emphasis...

Read on...

Practice the Dark Art of Cloud Encryption

September 25, 2015
By Bob Stolzberg

Cloud Walk Info Graphic

The Terrace Rooftop at the Moonrise Hotel is about to be compromised — and then secured with CenturyLink Cloud encryption. Register and join us as we dive head-first into cloud security, compliance and encryption in a multi-tenant environment. Our partnership with Vormetric, a leader in data security solutions, has created an easily-deployable security solution that translates across platforms and environments and protects data wherever it is stored (even data that isn’t in our cloud). Our main goal is to provide a workshop—a place where people from different backgrounds and companies can come together to learn about security options.

This isn’t a run-of-the-mill presentation and speech; we expect you to earn your drinks and food (there will be plenty). Our Cloud engineers will provide you with a CenturyLink Cloud demo account and an educational license for Vormetric, and then it’s your turn to play (you’ll have to supply the laptop, of course). We will be there to walk you through every step, and we'll even have some cool prizes to hand out at the end of the session.

This workshop doesn’t require you to be a security expert in order to attend. We welcome all kinds of IT pros, novices and everyone in...

Read on...

Ready for an Ever-Increasing Cloud Disaster Recovery Market?

September 22, 2015
By Ian Masters, Vision Solutions

Periodically, we turn over control of the CenturyLink Cloud blog to members of our certified technology ecosystem to share how they leverage our platform to enable customer success. This week’s guest author from the Cloud Marketplace Provider Program is Ian Masters, Vice President, Cloud & Strategic Alliances at Vision Solutions

Vision SolutionsThe Cloud DR market is finally maturing. I believe this is confirmed by the release of the first Gartner Magic Quadrant (GMQ) for Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS). According to the report, the Gartner estimates the size of the DRaaS market to be approximately $1.3 billion, with a related compound annual growth rate of approximately 30%. Impressive, to say the least. Interestingly, the Gartner also states that, “DRaaS vendors initially provided VM recovery primarily for VMware. However, given the rapid growth of other VM types, such as Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix Xen, Linux-centric KVM, and Oracle VM (OVM), service instances are becoming increasingly heterogeneous.

Unified Solutions Suite

Additionally, the GMQ reports "there is an ever-increasing customer demand for more integrated support of hybrid recovery configurations – that is, recovery configurations containing both virtual and physical servers." Due to this development, it’s easy to see why Service Providers are having to use such a...

Read on...

Point, Click, Deploy with Bitnami on CenturyLink Cloud

September 14, 2015
By Erica Brescia, COO, Bitnami

Periodically, we turn over control of the CenturyLink Cloud blog to members of our certified technology ecosystem to share how they leverage our platform to enable customer success. This week’s guest author from the Cloud Marketplace Provider Program is Erica Brescia, from one click application tool Bitnami.

BitnamiEver wished you had an easy way to deploy Redmine, SugarCRM, Alfresco, Drupal, or your favorite app in the cloud? Preferably one that didn't involve dealing with complicated server infrastructure, cryptic configuration files and multiple software versions?

Well, now you have one. We're pleased to announce that many of Bitnami's server applications and development environments are now available to CenturyLink Cloud customers as Bitnami Cloud Blueprints. With this integration, you can deploy over 100 Bitnami pre-configured applications quickly and securely on your CenturyLink cloud server...no tweaking necessary!

At Bitnami, we've taken the data we get from our million-plus deployments each month and used it to make sure that launching complex, multi-tiered application environments with our cloud images is as painless as possible.

Here’s how:

All our applications are pre-compiled and pre-configured with all necessary dependencies so that they work out-of-the-box. They’re quick and easy to install; simply sign into your CenturyLink account and select the Bitnami Cloud...

Read on...

Corporate IT: Transformative Agent or Roadblock?

September 10, 2015
By Pat Brennan

Cloud Takes Business Agility and Flexibility to New Heights

How does IT BECOME the business?

For many CEOs, the question is no longer “if” information technology will impact their business – it’s by how much. Data is being produced and replicated at unprecedented speeds, ushering in a new age of IT growth. The emergence of cloud, big data and IoT is transforming the data center, and those who capitalize on this technology movement stand to gain significant competitive advantage. As the ultimate goal is to maximize efficiencies, cut costs, and drive revenue – cloud and “as-a-service” models now put corporate IT in the unique position of becoming a transformative change agent in business.

Global businesses are in the midst of a “Third Industrial Revolution,” where competitive advantage comes from capitalizing on the new digital infrastructure and massive amounts of data flowing across it. As our recent e-Book points out, this digital transformation is empowering companies to move faster, serve customers in new ways, and create expanded opportunities for growth and innovation. Perhaps that’s why Bessemer Venture Partners pegs the cloud computing market at nearly $128 billion by 2018 – a 22.8 percent growth rate. A survey of large and mid-sized corporations by...

Read on...

A Tale of Two Cloud Foundry Options: AppFog & PivotalCF

September 2, 2015
By Jared Ruckle

Our support and enthusiasm for Pivotal's Cloud Foundry project dates way back to 2011. Even in those days, it was clear that the project was a game-changer for engineers and enterprises.

What is Cloud Foundry?

Cloud Foundry is an open-source collection of elastic services that run on top of cloud infrastructure. These services perform many functions on behalf of the developer, thereby accelerating software development. A picture is worth a thousand words:

Traditional and Cloud Foundry stack

Cloud Foundry is designed for the cloud era; it helps developers build and scale apps in accordance with 12 factor principles for Cloud Native applications.

Why is Cloud Foundry so appealing to enterprises?

Here are my top 5 reasons.

Cloud Foundry offers high abstraction for software developers. Cloud infrastructure abstracts many tedious activities away from users (namely resource procurement and availability). Cloud Foundry expands on this concept, and does many tasks for the developer: load balancing, binding with common application runtimes, streaming application logging, and much more. Further, 12-factor application design patterns are simplified with Cloud Foundry. The developer experience of pushing an app is wonderfully summarized by the Cloud Foundry haiku:

cf push haiku here is my source code run it on the cloud for me i do not care how

— Onsi Fakhouri (@onsijoe) May 12, 2015


Read on...

Pivotal Cloud Foundry (CF) Joins The CenturyLink Cloud Ecosystem

September 2, 2015
By Dave Shacochis

One of the most powerful dynamics of cloud computing and Open Source software is when well-funded organizations collaborate to create new capabilities that weren’t possible before. We’re pleased to announce the latest example. Pivotal CF, a powerful cloud native application platform, is now available as a single-click deployment in the CenturyLink Cloud Marketplace.

Pivotal CF Ops Manager

Our joint effort was the result of months of collaboration and testing with our mutual large enterprise customers; and we’re excited by the benefits our customers are already seeing:

Agile Transformation – Organizations striving for digital business transformation are looking for platforms that help them innovate faster in the application space. Well-structured, cloud-native application platforms are a key initiative for many CIOs. Architectural Consistency – Moving to a cloud-native application platform loses its luster when it breaks all the security and networking rules of the enterprise. Running Pivotal CF in a hybrid model with the rest of the IT estate allows CenturyLink customers to transform without undue risk. Resource Elasticity – High velocity development isn’t as powerful when it requires low-velocity capital deployment. Having a Private PaaS model create the secure abstraction layer across an elastic, pay-as-you-go IaaS substrate is a winning economic model.

Our continued Cloud Ecosystem program allows cloud-ready technology...

Read on...

Data Encryption Made Easy on the CenturyLink Cloud

September 1, 2015
By Chintan Gosalia, Sr. Cloud Architect, and Alan Eng, Cloud Product Marketing, at Vormetric

Periodically, we turn over control of the CenturyLink Cloud blog to members of our certified technology ecosystem to share how they leverage our platform to enable customer success. This week’s guest author from the Cloud Marketplace Provider Program is data encryption provider Vormetric.

Enterprises have been concerned about data security long before the advent of the cloud. Throwing cloud to the mix has added fuel to the fire; yet "companies of all sizes and industries, including some of the most regulated, are finding that enterprise cloud service providers offer security that is superior to what they can provide in-house." A combination of deeply-embedded security principles and ecosystem partnerships with best-in-class security companies makes this possible.

CenturyLink and Vormetric have partnered to deliver data-at-rest security solutions for enterprises using the CenturyLink Cloud. Now you can encrypt your sensitive data, own your own encryption keys, and create a data protection policy that gives only authorized users, groups, and applications the ability to decrypt that data, thus creating a highly secure cloud environment. Vormetric applies the least privileged principle enabling system administrators to continue managing servers, backups, and replication services without changing their workflow. They're able to view encrypted data in clear text.

Vormetric diagram

Here are the...

Read on...

Security and Audit Compliance is Hard – Automate It with Cavirin and CenturyLink Cloud

August 25, 2015
By Tim Thompson

Periodically, we turn over control of the CenturyLink Cloud blog to members of our certified technology ecosystem to share how they leverage our platform to enable customer success. This week’s guest author from the Cloud Marketplace Provider Program is Tim Thompson of security and compliance provider Cavirin.

Cavirin ARAPNo business wants to be exposed to risk, fail an audit, or get breached. We can help. With Cavirin’s Automated Risk Analysis Platform (ARAP), now integrated within the CenturyLink Cloud Platform, you can elevate your security posture and add an extra layer of transparency and visibility in your cloud ecosystem, without any additional security staff or heavyweight security tools.

Strengthen your cloud infrastructure without sacrificing security or compliance.

ARAP can help strengthen your infrastructure by continuously monitoring your CenturyLink Cloud environment as well as on-premise environment -- seeking out configuration changes as well as new devices and grading the associated risk based on security and compliance guidelines that you apply. Our platform paints a clear picture of the risk within your dynamic IT ecosystem, so that you stay proactive, well ahead of potential risks to security or gaps in compliance.

ARAP is agentless and automated, which means cost and time savings for you.

To us, automation...

Read on...

Real-time Data Distribution with Apache Kafka

August 21, 2015
By Chris Kleban

Like most enterprises and service providers, at CenturyLink we aim to please our customers by making data-based decisions. As our business grows, so does the amount of data we collect. The effort required to distill, distribute and analyze the data in meaningful ways was increasingly strenuous to our team. In short, we needed to become faster with our analytics. If your organization is becoming overwhelmed with data, read on, as I’ll share how the Cloud analytics team used Apache Kafka to solve the following challenges with collecting and distributing data at scale:

Efficient access to data Speed Scalability Distributed, Fault Tolerant, and Highly Available Challenge #1: Efficient access to data

Getting access to data is sometimes the hardest part. Sometimes the data that you need lives in some isolated software service and a one-off data export is required. Perhaps your data integration flow is overly-complex due to your adoption of a service-oriented architecture (SOA). Maybe you have a process that requires multiple teams to perform work before data is moved around. We saw all of this and more, and decided to make it easier to move our data to increase the overall velocity of our organization. Our data distribution flow between services looked something like this:


Read on...

High Availability: It's About Scale Factor

August 20, 2015
By Daniel Morton

Richard Seroter, VP ProductWhether you're a CIO or a developer you can't assume that the cloud just magically gives you high availability (HA). Cloud gives you the tools. We think a little healthy skepticism on the part of the customer that the cloud will be available all the time is actually a good thing. A customer should say, “I build my systems to be resilient and accommodate failure that the provider experiences. I'm going to use whatever services the cloud providers offers to build the best system I can, but I have to plan for all scenarios.”

We applaud that skepticism! It’s up to you to implement the cloud products and managed services offered by the cloud provider in a way that gives you the resilience you need. To build highly availability applications, you have to design systems to handle both routine interruptions and unplanned failures of components and infrastructure — from a single instance all the way through the data center.

A platform offering that can simplify building that in terms of scale, configuration, and managed infrastructure services has a lot to offer. That’s why we sat down with CenturyLink Cloud’s VP of Product Richard Seroter to discuss how his teams help customers scale...

Read on...

Meet the New IT Ops, Same as the Old IT Ops

August 19, 2015
By Jared Ruckle

In this space, we have discussed the benefits of running virtual servers, bare metal, and AppFog (powered by Cloud Foundry) with CenturyLink Cloud. The pitch: create and scale your apps via self-service, across a variety of infrastructure options, within the same UI and API framework.

These services empower developers to build new apps faster than ever before. This is the sea change occurring in our industry.

Under the backdrop of this change, however, one constant has emerged. Yes, companies want infrastructure services that are elastic and highly automated.

But they want to administer and manage cloud deployments like incumbent systems.

"The More Things Change..."

Customers tell us that governance, control, transparency, billing, and reporting are still important. These priorities persist in the cloud era. To IT Ops teams, these administrative features complement the on-demand, pay-as-you-go goodness that fuels rapid app development.

To this end, we've launched several new features to help customers realize the benefits of cloud computing...while helping them adhere to their current operational practices and policies.

Below are a few examples.

Service Catalog

IT Ops Perspective: "Things in my org change quickly, and I want to retain control over how new services are exposed to employees. Ticket volumes go up when unfamiliar things are available to the...

Read on...