Automate Your Security and Audit Compliance with a Free Trial of ARAP

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...

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...

Build Your First Mobile Application on CenturyLink with CloudMine

August 18, 2015
By Cloudmine

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 mobile backend-as-a-service CloudMine.

Enterprise mobile development has been "hard" for awhile. As enterprises increasingly feel the pressure to create innovative experiences through mobile and connected devices, most continue to struggle with the endless complexities of modern mobility for a number of very legitimate reasons.

Mobile expertise is hard to come by, and building mobile systems and competencies requires a variety of expertise to cover all necessary components. Data security policies may inhibit the delivery of successful mobile initiatives by presenting new risks to an organization, both from a privacy and compliance perspective that they are unprepared to address on a timescale that aligns with the mobile app rollout schedule. Finding highly responsive IT organizations geared to readily support mobile development requirements can be difficult to find as many struggle to keep up with the pace of new mobile and cloud-based technologies and application development practices. CloudMine Simplifies Enterprise Mobility

Rethink mobile apps

At CloudMine, our Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) platform is aimed at reducing these complexities to enable...

Read on...

Deploy Robust Storage Solutions with SoftNAS on CenturyLink Cloud

August 10, 2015
By Matt Blanchard, Principal Solutions Architect, SoftNAS

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 Matt Blanchard from SoftNAS, network attached storage.

SoftNASIn today’s fast moving, highly complex business world, customers need reliable IT subsystems with workloads that must be dependable, homogeneous and highly customizable. These stringent requirements are even more necessary when speaking about the critical data that is housed in vast arrays of disks at data centers around the world, posing problems like:

Massive capital expenditures on storage platforms on a 3-to-5 year recurring basis. Upkeep and maintenance of proprietary hardware and software. Highly specialized and skilled workforce needed to manage and administer storage systems. Monolithic architecture that makes workloads difficult to move, copy, and migrate.

Customer needs require an easy-to-use, robust storage platform that offers full-featured NAS services in a fast, cloud-integrated architecture.

SoftNAS Cloud® solves this by offering hassle-free, full-featured network-attached storage (NAS) in CenturyLink Cloud. SoftNAS transforms the typical server inside CenturyLink Cloud, giving it the ability to extend past the 4.5 TB local storage limit by adding virtually unlimited Cloud Object storage (up to 14...

Read on...

What Does the End of Windows Server 2003 Mean For You and Your Company?

August 6, 2015
By Navin Arora, Operating Systems Product Manager

Are those Windows 2003 servers you still haven't updated slowly becoming a headache? The servers reached their official end-of-life (EOL) date several weeks ago, yet millions of platforms are still running on this operating system (OS). For many companies that manage their own infrastructure, upgrading servers may seem like an overwhelming task, not to mention the price tag and time commitments that can come along with it. But there are also many excellent reasons to explore your options —whether it be a traditional upgrade and maintenance of your on-premises servers or making the switch to a cloud-based environment.

4 Reasons to Consider an Upgrade

Although Windows Server 2003 will not stop working as soon as support expires, there are a number of reasons to consider upgrading to a new system.

Reason #1: No More Support

There will be no more updates to fix bugs and security vulnerabilities. In the past five years there have been between 85 and 110 security updates on the Windows 2003 OS annually. Lack of support will leave your system vulnerable to malicious attacks and electronic data loss. While your company's support staff may be able to discover some vulnerabilities, not receiving frequent upgrades to supported servers will seriously...

Read on...

Cost Management on the Journey to the Cloud

August 4, 2015
By Josh Heller, Apptio Partner 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 Josh Heller from Apptio, IT spending management service.

Cloud adoption has created many new ways for IT to add new value to the businesses they support — adapting to seasonal service demands, reduced management requirements by already over-taxed IT operations staff, increased efficiency of infrastructure deployed, and more. These benefits aren't new, but with more organizations moving to a ‘cloud-first' model, they struggle to understand the true economic impact of this change in strategy.

Moving to the cloud is causing a fundamental shift in the economic model of IT. Traditionally, new business applications were developed and deployed on servers, storage, and data centers owned by the company. This model is largely reliant on longer term capital expense (CapEx) — requiring IT to make infrastructure decisions that carry a fixed investment while the applications it supports benefit from rapid iteration. Cloud infrastructure, purchased on demand as an operational expense (OpEx), reduces the cost of this experimentation by not tying the...

Read on...

Open Source at CenturyLink

July 30, 2015
By Jared Wray

We value participating in the Open Source community at CenturyLink. Just in the past year we have made sizeable contributions to the community with tools such as Panamax, Lorry, Image Layers, Chef integration with VMware, Iron Foundry, Cloud Foundry, xUnit.net, Chocolatey, and ElasticLinq. We just recently announced even more contributions.

Today is a special day as we get to talk about how we are transforming internally to streamline the process for enabling the usage of open source and contributions.

Where we started was what would be called a very traditional enterprise policy that limited contributions but also made it very complex and cumbersome if you wanted to use open source or contribute. This could take weeks of approvals and in some cases just didn’t make sense for our engineers to pursue.

We have made major changes to our policy focusing on how not only can we embrace open source technology but also give back. Here are the highlights of our open source policy at CenturyLink now:

Any engineer can contribute to a project as long as they follow the project’s guidelines. If they want to do this during working hours they just need their manager’s permission.

While building products and services, it is acceptable...

Read on...

AppFog Makes 12 Factor Apps Easier. But What Are 12 Factor Apps?

July 21, 2015
By Jared Ruckle

Businesses have a mandate to gain a competitive advantage from IT. Invariably, this discussion turns to cloud-native apps. Leaders ponder questions like “How can we create, run, and scale new applications quickly and easily?” “How do we experiment, get to market faster, and reduce the cost of trying new things?”

The answer: embrace the development and operational principles behind “12 Factor Apps.”

Our AppFog service (based on Cloud Foundry) makes it easy for developers to create apps that adhere to these 12 factors.

But what are these 12 factors? What does the developer need to do differently?

12 Factor Apps Meme

Thankfully, this phrase - defined on this manifesto - has avoided the fate of terms like “cloudbursting” or “as-a-service.” It has a very specific technical meaning, and strong roots with engineers, not vendors.

For those just getting started with cloud native apps, we thought it might be helpful to discuss each of the factors – and what you can do to adhere to each one. We’ve included quotes from the 12 Factor site when helpful.

I. Codebase - One codebase tracked in revision control, many deploys

WHAT IT MEANS

Many organizations have siloed development and operations teams (unintentionally or otherwise). This results in different codebases; different versions across different systems,...

Read on...

Chef-Provisioning-vSphere driver now open sourced

July 20, 2015
By Matt Wrock

I am happy to announce that we have recently open sourced our Chef provisioning driver for vSphere. This driver makes it easy to provision Chef nodes on VMware vSphere infrastructure.

###What is Chef-Provisioning?

Chef-Provisioning (formerly known as Chef-Metal) is a fairly new offering from Chef that allows you to create Chef recipes to bootstrap machines. It extends the functionality of a recipe typically used for defining an individual node to potentially define all infrastructure for a distributed application or even an entire data center.

Chef-Provisioning introduces a collection of new resources to your recipes and at the center of these is the machine resource. With the machine resource one describes:

Hypervisor or cloud-specific properties of a machine Node attributes to associate with the machine A runlist that the created machine will converge

Chef Provisioning exposes a driver interface making it possible for any hypervisor, cloud or even some bare metal infrastructures to interact with these machine resources. There are currently several drivers available and today, CenturyLink introduces our own driver for vSphere.

###Chef Provisioning for the Enterprise

The CenturyLink-released driver fills in a significant gap for provisioning Chef nodes in enterprise shops that use VMware for their core virtualization technology. We began working on this in the spring of...

Read on...

From Application Services to Bare Metal: A Complete Platform for a Complex World

July 16, 2015
By Richard Seroter

As comedian Louis C.K. put it, everything is amazing right now. Companies serve a worldwide audience by deploying apps almost anywhere in minutes, collect unprecedented amounts of data by processing hundreds of millions of events without breaking a sweat, and design resilient systems that quickly adapt to changing usage patterns and unplanned disruptions.

With all this power, comes complexity. The era of simple two-tier, single-technology apps is over. To achieve the scale and performance needed to solve modern problems and differentiate your company from competitors, developers often create powerful distributed systems made up of ephemeral containers running single function microservices based on cutting edge open source software, and all of it deployed via automation. Even if you’re not doing all of those things right now, your applications and services rarely fit neatly into a single host. What you need, is a platform that offers the optimal host for each component of your system.

That’s our focus at CenturyLink — but more on that in a moment.

Let’s look at an example. A typical business system has a number of components that comprise the overall solution. In the case below, a mobile user comes into the system via an app that leverages an API...

Read on...