The Function of Quality Assurance (QA) with the Internet of Things

February 4, 2016
By Jonathan Townsend

Internet of Things CTL

These are exciting times for tech-driven integration. The Internet of Things is in fact taking over the world in both concept and practice, perpetually changing the way industries work together. The IoT has spurred the rapid evolution of ideas that affect our day-to-day activities and will undoubtedly accelerate the tech world's capability to make digital ecosystems 'of the future' a present-day reality.

According to Gartner, "The Internet of Things installed base will grow to 26 billion units by 2020. IoT product and service suppliers will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion, mostly in services, in 2020. It will result in $1.9 trillion in global economic value-add through sales into diverse end markets.”

At the core of IoT is the principle of using sensors to connect smart technologies with everyday life. The practice of mining data from the sensors that make up an IoT ecosystem is what ushers forth and shapes a brave new world full of technologies that automate processes, expedite progress, connect industries, and ultimately, improve overall user experiences.

The chances are great that you've seen the widening array of embedded applications that make the IoT a tangible thing. For example, wearable technologies are redefining the fitness world; word processing algorithms and...

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CenturyLink Cloud Launches Relational Database Service on CenturyLink Cloud Platform

January 26, 2016
By Christine Parr, Product Owner - Relational DB

Relational DataBase Service Overview

The CenturyLink Relational Database (DB) team is excited to announce the General Availability of Relational DB, a MySQL-compatible Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) product that has been in beta since August of 2015. This product complements the CenturyLink Cloud® portfolio and reiterates our commitment to cloud native applications by providing developers instant access to a high-performance, enterprise-hardened MySQL-compatible database instance built on the Hyperscale platform from CenturyLink Cloud.

Designed for Enterprise and SMB customers, our Relational DB Service includes:

• Available in VA1, UC1 and IL1; global expansion throughout 2016

• Flexible provisioning options – choose any combination of CPU, RAM and storage within the platform limits

• Scale CPU, RAM, and storage independently of each other as your needs grow through self-service automation

• Daily backups with configurable backup time

• In data center replication option with auto-failover for high-availability

• SSL Certificate provided to encrypt connection and data in transit

• Access to REST APIs

• Built on enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure

Enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure is critical for database performance. The CenturyLink Cloud Platform powered by Hyperscale servers out-performed other high profile competitors in an independent benchmark study by CloudHarmony. By leveraging this platform, Relational DB benefits from SSD storage which is local to the host. This maximizes storage...

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How to Ansible with Runner

January 25, 2016
By Chris Kent - Product Owner, Runner

how-ansible-logo

Introduction

Here at CenturyLink Cloud, we use a technology called Ansible pretty extensively throughout our platform. Ansible is an IT automation and orchestration engine that enables configuration management, provisioning, deployment, as well as many other IT needs. Runner wraps all of Ansible’s goodness into a Job Service, along with other micro services such as SSH, VPN, status, queuing, and scheduling. Next we'll look at what Runner is and how you would use it.

What Is Runner?

Runner is a new product from CenturyLink Cloud that enables fast, easy automation and orchestration on the CenturyLink Cloud Platform, as well as third-party cloud providers and on-premises infrastructure and devices. Runner provides the ability to quickly provision and modify resources on any environment, and gives users a true Hybrid IT solution, regardless of where their resources are.

On a more granular level, Runner is an automation and orchestration engine that we exposed as a service, and coupled with services mentioned below, enhance the Runner experience. Runner, at its core, is an Ansible engine. On top of that engine exists several other custom services and APIs we've created, many of which were created in tandem with the Runner job service to enhance the job execution capabilities.

Here is a...

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CenturyLink St. Louis User Group Mobile App Launch with DoubleDutch.me

January 25, 2016
By Bob Stolzberg

Pivotal LogoThis past November, the CenturyLink St. Louis User Group (#CTLSTL) hosted their second CloudWalk event. For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, CloudWalks are technical events where our users and customers get together to experience our cloud platform in a hands-on, learning environment. While there, technical experts guide everyone, technical and non-technical alike, in a group development session.

At the St. Louis User Group and CloudWalk meeting CenturyLink teamed up with Pivotal to make the open-source Cloud Foundry easily available and deployable in our environment with hands-on exercises. Every participant was encouraged to bring a laptop and dive into the development. We covered a lot of ground, starting with a set-up of the Pivotal CF environment, followed by a tutorial on deploying applications and then managing and scaling apps within the environment. We also discussed how companies are using Cloud Foundry to help their businesses thrive. And of course, there were cool prizes and excellent food to go along with all the learning.

CloudWalk Learning Session

After the CloudWalk, the new #CTLSTL User Group held a launch party with help from sponsors -- Dynatrace, A10 Networks and Vormetric --to showcase some new local tech from Aisle411, introduce some community opportunities from CoderDojoSTL (kids programming),...

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As the Cloud Turns

January 15, 2016
By Jim Battenberg - Director, Platform User Enablement

Platform

The new year often brings about a time of reflection, coupled with an anticipation of what’s to come. Along those lines, we wanted to share with you some key highlights of 2015 and things to look forward to in 2016. 2015 was a busy year at CenturyLink Cloud, as we expanded our global presence, completed hundreds of product and feature launches on a 15-day cadence, and were recognized by industry experts as a leading cloud service provider.

Leading Industry Analyst Firms Recognize CenturyLink's 2015 Cloud Achievements

Frost

Frost & Sullivan honors CenturyLink Cloud with Company of the Year Award for the North American Cloud Industry and also published a report on how CenturyLink is Setting the Standard for the Next Generation of Cloud Services.

Gartner

Gartner granted us “Visionary” status in their annual Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service. (1)

Gartner also named us a “Leader” in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting, Asia Pacific, 2015. (2)

Platform Highlights of 2015

CIOsecurity

One of the top concerns of our customers when it comes to cloud is security. In an effort to outline key security strategies we compiled the CenturyLink Cloud Security Overview Guide (and an eBook, if you’d like the 5 Best Practices cliff notes version). Take our “Weakest...

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Managed OS Services -- Working Hard to be Better for You

January 13, 2016
By Ben Swoboda

By design, clicking the “Make Managed” button while configuring a server is very simple. It may be hard to believe, but that effortless task activates thousands of trained technicians, worldwide, to help you with your server (and you’re only paying them pennies per hour!). Everything after that – the ongoing support - should be as effortless as clicking that button.

Think of all the data a technician must consider to serve a customer: sales data, product data, customer data, network, monitoring, communication, change management, performance, and incident histories, just to name a few. The challenge is to funnel all that information to the technician supporting you in a way that makes sense. We’ve lived up to that challenge for years, but at CenturyLink, we are constantly striving to do a better job for our customers.

Our Operations team creates and updates internal tools that allow them to serve our customers in the best ways possible. They utilize customizable tools which enable them to respond quicker, more efficiently, and with greater impact. Here are some recent updates that we made to our tools so that we can continue to improve our service.

Monitoring Updates

Recent improvements to our monitoring solution eliminate waste and streamline processes....

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Six Data Backup Basics - Not Just for Cloud

January 7, 2016
By Mark Lee

Simple Backup ServiceLet's face it, you never know when the need will arise to restore or recover your data. We’ve all “been there, done that”, or we have it in the back of our mind that we’ll need to do it someday. However, the odds are that the need to restore won’t be triggered because of a disaster or a hack, but more likely because of common reasons such as: system/user error, corrupt data, deleted data, new environments, a legal hold request, or a Governance, Risk Management, or Compliance (GRC) program which requires that the data must be restored as proof that the data is being retained.

Whatever the case may be, the key to understanding data restoration is knowing that data backups are taking place to begin with; which means planning, implementation, and execution. These tasks can be daunting and riddled with details, which is why they are typically assigned to an operations team (including the planning). However, there are other contributors to backup planning: business owners, product owners, application/database owners, etc., especially when they have a vested interest in restoring or recovering after an issue or event has occurred. Naturally, you want (and need) the correct data restored as soon as...

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How the Internet of Things is Taking Over the World

January 4, 2016
By Jonathan Townsend

IOT cloud

What is the Internet of Things?

We live in complicated times governed by the interconnectivity of processes, schedules, tasks, and systems. Activities are constantly monitored, analyzed, and calibrated to maximize efficiency. But what does all this connectedness and integration amount to? In short -- the Internet of Things (IoT), which we can think of as the intelligent approach to connect devices, integrate systems, and improve networks by leveraging and mining data gathered from reporting tools and sensors in physical objects and machines.

In essence, the Internet of Things is taking over the world.

Think of the IoT as an umbrella that forms a connected web of collective communications, operations, and procedures in an ever-growing array of industries. It does this all in an effort to make our lives easier, by mining data to be streamlined in a more automated and efficient world. In 2014, Gartner cited that the Internet of Things was the year’s most-hyped technology. But what does Gartner's (an American market research and advisory firm) message really mean?

But Just How is the IoT Taking Over the World?

Starting with the seemingly mundane task of waking up, imagine your alarm clock triggering a series of processes to help expedite your morning routine. Televisions...

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Cloudberry Lab Presents: Fast & Secure Cloud Storage on CenturyLink Cloud

December 21, 2015
By Jacob Himmelstein

CloudBerry-logo

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 Jacob Himmelstein, Partner Manager for CloudBerry Lab.

CloudBerry Lab has integrated their backup technology with the CenturyLink Cloud platform. This integration allows the user to achieve rapid time-to-value for this Backup to Cloud Object Storage solution.

CLC platform

Solution Overview

The evolution of cloud technology saw cloud storage as a great tool to offload on-premise storage economics into the cloud. Thanks to ever-increasing Internet bandwidth and declining storage prices, keeping backups in the cloud has become a viable alternative to traditional on-site data storage for SMBs. Many companies often overlook key considerations when it comes to online backup, with Cloudberry Lab for CenturyLink Cloud, the user can be assured that important components are available, such as:

Reliable Cloud Storage that you control: When moving backup data off-site, a company should ensure the cloud storage service is reliable, cost-effective, yet high-performing. With CloudBerry Backup, you backup to customer-owned CenturyLink Cloud Storage, which you fully control and manage. Automate files and folders backup from your Windows desktop to the CenturyLink...

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Anti-virus is Not Enough!

December 17, 2015
By Kevin White

In today's growing market, we are seeing customers of all sizes migrate to the cloud for a variety of reasons. The cloud is certainly showing its value in the market, from the small developer looking for a free, disposable, or cost efficient server to large corporate customers looking to optimize IT agility and expenses.

Unfortunately, whether it's cloud or traditional managed services, many clients opt for nothing more than an anti-virus application and perhaps a firewall to cover their information security compliance requirements. However, as attacks grow more sophisticated and Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) grow more prevalent, using nothing but anti-virus and a firewall can leave gaps in your security profile, exposing you and your customers to unnecessary risks.

To get an idea of the risks you might face, consider this article - MySQL servers hijacked with malware to perform DDoS attacks. In this case, the attacker was able to upload a Trojan Horse application directly into a database, most likely through a SQL injection. An Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), unlike an anti-virus application, would have detected the SQL injection attempt and blocked it at the web interface. However, because the system was inadequately protected, the attacker slipped the Trojan Horse past...

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Hybrid IT: Why Cloud Delivery Matters

December 16, 2015
By David Shacochis

In meeting with customers and partners over the past several months, I hear one question on a regular basis: "We like the flexibility of your Hybrid IT portfolio, but why are you building a public cloud?" As recently stated by our CTO, we are committed to a next generation cloud user experience for the delivery of our primary business: managed services across data center and network .

To understand why we are using this approach, it’s helpful to think about the writings of Nick Carr. His 2003 Harvard Business Review article "IT Doesn’t Matter," touched off a firestorm of debate throughout our industry, especially within the vendor community.

It’s easy to see what Mr. Carr got right. He correctly observed that the client-server era led to companies over-estimating the discrete value of IT device technology. He stressed the importance of strategic alignment between information technology and business stakeholders. He predicted the rise of cloud computing and utility-like pricing based on consumption.

And while there are valid criticisms afforded by a decade of hindsight, Carr’s fundamental truth holds up today. IT isn’t valuable unto itself; its value is derived from what it allows the larger organization to...

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An End to the Platform Wars: Cloud Foundry Rising

December 16, 2015
By Jared Ruckle

Vendor Lock-In Withers

As long as there have been IT vendors, there has been worry about vendor lock-in from buyers. Businesses squirm at the notion of having data and systems stuck with a particular provider over time, without an easy out.

Public cloud infrastructure, and more specifically, add-on tech from cloud brokers (remember them?) promised to alleviate this anxiety. So did OpenStack, with lukewarm results so far, years after the original promise.

To date, tinkering with interoperability for cloud has been a non-starter for businesses. Once again, the effort to achieve compatibility just hasn’t been worth it.

A New Hope

Now, containers and application services offer the legit possibility of vanquishing the lock-in "boogeyman" once and for all. Why might this time be different? Ruthless commodification is creeping up the stack, where nearly everything besides the actual code the developer is writing can be operated, managed, and maintained by a 3rd party on the cheap.

Which brings us to today’s news regarding Cloud Foundry Certification. This is a big development for enterprises striving to remain relevant as software gobbles the world. Cloud Foundry Certification ensures that application code running in one Cloud Foundry service will run seamlessly in another. Providers who display the Cloud Foundry Certification...

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