Optimize Your Field Service Business with StreetSmart

August 6, 2019
By Brandy Smith

StreetSmart Logo

Periodically, we turn over control of the CenturyLink Cloud blog to members of our Marketplace Provider Program to share how their technology on the CenturyLink Hybrid IT Marketplace provides customers with low-friction solutions to solve complex business challenges. This edition’s guest author is Taylor Hyams, Channel Marketing Manager at StreetSmart.

With great pressure to innovate and differentiate themselves from the competition, companies big and small across all verticals are in the middle of a digital transformation. This new era changes how work is completed, and one major piece of that transformation is mobility.

Organizations with field service have been at the forefront of mobilization in the workplace, and the ability to anticipate real-time visibility and better engage customers would be a game-changer for their field workers and dispatchers. Most organizations that are looking to implement field service are focused on scheduling or visibility and location of resources. However, this is only a small portion of the benefits associated with a mobility solution like StreetSmart.

A Better Approach to Field Service

StreetSmart, a product of ClickSoftware, has been empowering companies to gain visibility, improve productivity, and better engage customers with its turnkey mobile workforce management solution that can automate administrative tasks and back office APIs.

StreetSmart...

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Lower Operational Costs with Managed Services Anywhere

July 23, 2019
By Jim Greene

Managed Services Anywhere

Companies struggling to keep pace with rapid technological change may find it hard to retain existing staff with high-demand skillsets while keeping operating costs sustainable and predictable.

As an example, look at company with a blended multi-modal environment of legacy applications in a private cloud environment, applications that have moved to a public cloud infrastructure, and several new applications being developed cloud native.

The skills required to support existing or legacy applications are not necessarily the same ones required to support a cloud-native application on a public cloud, let alone multiple public clouds. Hiring for those positions presents administrative and financial challenges, putting the IT team into a difficult position as it tries to maintain production environments, support development teams, and expand skillsets to stay relevant in the market.

Let’s run through some numbers. The average salary for a cloud engineer, according to indeed.com, is $119,020. If you apply the industry standard cost multiplier of 1.7 for fully loaded cost, one cloud engineer costs $202,334 annually.

But that’s still only part of the story. You still need to account for off-hours support. Even accounting for lower-cost offshore support options, 24x7 support will likely increase your cost to $505,835 (2.5x), and...

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Better Governance of Multi-Cloud with Managed Services

July 16, 2019
By Amy Sorenson, Senior Lead Product Manager

Governance

Enterprise and mid-market businesses moving to a multi-cloud environment hope to achieve cost savings, increase speed to market, and reduce shadow IT.

Some, however, struggle to find the benefits they anticipated. These businesses lack the in-house resources required to transition from private data centers to multi-cloud environments while also monitoring and maintaining cloud services related to compute, storage, network, and security.

When a business needs to grow its IT team to support a multi-cloud environment, it has two choices: hire employees, or partner with a managed service provider. Two big reasons to consider managed services: A skill gap in the market makes it a challenge to find qualified cloud administrators. And, hiring or training employees is expensive and time-consuming – delaying the cost savings and efficiencies your business could gain from cloud services.

Scenario: Avoiding Vulnerabilities of Shadow IT

A company’s big data analytics team utilizes Azure services, while the DevOps team uses AWS. How does IT quickly give them access to the resources they need while maintaining company standards for compliance, security and operations?

If IT can’t deliver cloud services fast enough, teams may go directly to cloud providers for services. The resulting Shadow IT can lead to security risks by creating vulnerabilities that...

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Managed Services Add Value to Hybrid IT Strategy

June 18, 2019
By Jim Greene

Managed Services Hybrid IT

Businesses deciding to pursue a Hybrid IT strategy face challenges in implementation and complexity in management. Many recognize that expert guidance is needed to integrate public and private cloud components, so they look to managed services to optimize these cloud environments.

Through managed services, a business’ systems are migrated to the cloud, where a third-party provider is responsible for their management. The business is then free to focus on other goals, like finding new markets or achieving greater customer satisfaction. In the public sector, innovation can include new ways to engage with constituents and provide enhanced services.

What to Look for in a Managed Services Provider

Helping businesses better predict and control costs is a primary benefit of managed services. The right managed services partner ensures that the best combination of solutions and services is applied to workloads, offers access to a sophisticated technology platform that provides granular visibility and reporting, and improves decision-making ability for IT and business managers alike.

CenturyLink® Managed Services Anywhere enables IT transformation by fully managing and orchestrating the delivery of infrastructure, applications and services across multiple clouds and cloud provider environments, including AWS, Microsoft Azure, CenturyLink Cloud and CenturyLink Private Cloud on VMware Cloud Foundation.

The combined services...

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Shifting Priorities Push Digital Transformation in Public Sector

June 11, 2019
By Jim Greene

Public Sector Digital Transformation

The move to full digital transformation moves more slowly in public sector and governmental organizations. Procurement cycles are longer, and spending constraints often prevent governments from adopting cutting-edge technology.

According to a Gartner report on CIO priorities, digital business and digital transformation are still important goals for government and other public-sector organizations. A 451 Research study found four key operational goals driving digital transformation for public agencies: improving agility, enhancing efficiency, boosting customer (citizen or constituent) experiences, and managing risk and security.

While many organizations place full responsibility for digital transformation on their IT departments, these groups find it’s essential to involve impacted departments as early as possible in projects. Digital transformation requires more than simply implementing new technologies because it changes both how people work and how they think about work.

When tasked with improving operations and services, governments can take advantage of shifts in enterprise technology to accomplish their goals and overcome a reliance on legacy systems. As agencies find themselves under pressure to meet rising expectations set by constituents’ commercial online activities, digital transformation projects can help them leverage new platforms and services to provide smoother, faster, contextually relevant experiences.

No matter the size of the organization, embracing and adopting cloud-based...

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Hybrid IT Approach Helps Businesses Speed Up Digital Transformation

May 30, 2019
By Jim Greene

Digital Transformation

To realize the benefits of the digital future, forward-thinking organizations are transforming everything from their business models to their operational processes and network architecture.

Reaching the goal of changing how they “serve customers, employees and partners; support continuous improvement in business operations; disrupt existing businesses and markets; and invent new businesses and business models” takes a well-planned business strategy, analyst firm 451 Research says.

For a growing number of organizations, that strategy includes Hybrid IT — infrastructure that includes some combination of public and/or private cloud, managed hosting, and on-premises or co-located data centers — linked by a robust network.

In a Hybrid IT environment, organizations can manage both internal and customer-facing applications that reduce downtime, save money, increase productivity, and deliver new solutions — everything from SaaS to address applicable workloads, public cloud infrastructure to support custom application development and complex projects around data analytics, and workload migration from on-premise servers to the cloud.

The speed, agility, and scale that come with a Hybrid IT environment also require a connective network infrastructure that can scale and change with the IT platforms that run across it. To meet those demands, the network has to be faster, more powerful, more scalable, more reliable, and...

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Microsoft Announces Critical Security Flaw in RDP Services

May 16, 2019
By CenturyLink Cloud Security Team

Microsoft announced CVE-2019-0708 a critical flaw in Remote Desktop Services that enables unauthenticated remote code execution. In their blog post on May 14, 2019, they report that a specially crafted request could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code on the victim's system without any user interaction and prior to any authentication. Microsoft sees it as critical enough that they're issuing patches for non-supported versions of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 to help prevent this spreading as wildly as WannaCry in 2017. Affected versions of Windows include:

  • Windows 7
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows XP

Links to the full list of affected operating systems, as well as links to the necessary patches, can be found in the same TechNet blog where the announcement was made.

The security of our customer's networks is of great importance to us as well. Because we still offer Windows 2008 R2 as an option, and many of our customers choose to use deploy with this option, we felt it necessary to proactively encourage our customers to perform this update immediately after testing in a non-production environment.

Ideally, we encourage our customers to limit services exposed to the public Internet, or whitelist specific...

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Protect Yourself Against Hidden Costs of Unplanned Outages

April 16, 2019
By Jim Greene

Hidden Costs Outages.jpg

If your data center goes down, so does your business. Having systems outages that last for even a few minutes can have devastating, long-lasting ripple effects.

Let's start with losses in revenue and productivity, and potential compliance penalties. According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute. Considering the differences in how businesses operate, it can range from a$140,000 per hour on the low end, $300,000 per hour on average, and as much as $540,000 per hour — more than three times what it was in 2012 — at the high end.

Those are the costs you can see. But, there are others that may be hidden or harder to measure. Consider customer loyalty, damage to your reputation, and employee burnout, just to name a few.

Customer Loyalty Takes a Hit

Customer expectations regarding service are set by what a business promises it can deliver. You're unable to deliver on those expectations in an outage, so customers are more likely to take their business elsewhere or publicly express their disappointment. Because of social media, their words can spread around the world in minutes.

Losing a long-term client or having a customer go inactive represents a significant loss. In theory, you could...

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Using Cloud Storage in Your Disaster Recovery Plan

January 21, 2019
By Jim Greene

Data Protection Puzzle.jpg

Developing a data protection strategy primarily means thinking about how critical data would survive a complete failure. One of the most important decisions a business can make is how to provide additional capability to support a comprehensive disaster recovery plan.

According to State Tech, "Cloud is a critical enabler of digital transformation and must be accompanied by supportive leadership and agile and streamlined processes focused on agency constituents that allow secure multichannel access to information, services and benefits."

Unlike many in-house options, cloud services shift the burden of IT development and upkeep from the business to the cloud provider. IT staff at the cloud company take care of routine tasks and maintenance associated with storage and backup so organizations can focus on other areas within their business while having reliable safeguards for their information.

Would Your Critical Data Survive a Complete Failure?

The cloud's scalability and flexibility cost very little upfront and offer access to a wide variety of storage options that businesses can scale up or down as demand changes. Combining these three cloud solutions can help businesses create a comprehensive data protection and disaster recovery plan:

  • Backup-as-a-Service: In the same way that all other "as-a-Service" components operate, backups can be handled in many

...

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Cloud Capacity Management - Manage Capacity in the Cloud

December 3, 2018
By Chris Meyer, Guillermo Sanchez

Introduction

To begin, let's first address the elephant looking cloud in the sky. The concept of public cloud capacity management is an oxymoron of sorts. One of the selling points for customers of any cloud providers is that their usage of the platform can scale up and down, in minutes, based on demand without any usage planning, upfront costs or long-term commitment in order to facilitate a greater level of agility to their business. Need a VM; stand one up! Need to turn down a server; go right ahead. With tools such as Cloud Application Manager this is even easier than ever, by controlling the deployment or deletion of instances in any cloud seamlessly.

While this capability has solved many operational flexibility issues businesses have encountered running applications in their own data centers, it has also exposed others that were indirectly controlled with the inherent constraints that came with running their own data center such as variable costs and governance models. Thus, the traditional capacity management practice hasn't disappeared for enterprises as much as its scope and expectations have changed and thus a resurgence in the value the position provides.

Let's quickly cover what has or will change for capacity managers as enterprises moves...

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CenturyLink answers FIRST Robotics team's call for sponsorship

November 20, 2018
By Jim Greene

ECG Robotics team ECG Robotics FRC Team, Triple Strange #1533, after winning their second district event last season.

When a high school junior in North Carolina was searching for a server to host websites for a competitive robotics program, CenturyLink was happy to provide one.

We first heard from Aidan Hunt, who takes college courses through an early entry program at Guilford College, when he contacted us in late May as a representative of the school’s FIRST® Robotics club, ECG Robotics, which has about 100 members who attend schools in and around Greensboro and Guilford County. FIRST Robotics (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an international 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created to inspire K-12 students to pursue studies and careers in science and technology.

ECG Robotics has five teams that compete in two levels of “sport of the mind,” in which teams build robots to perform predetermined tasks, and have qualified for the World Championship in Houston, Texas for the past three seasons. Hunt’s team, Triple Strange, won one of eight divisions and every pre-championship event last year.

Along with the technical talent needed to build their robots, a team’s success also hinges on its ability to collect and analyze data from competitions. What FIRST...

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Certifications Recognize Our Commitment to Digital Transformation

November 6, 2018
By Jim Greene

In a business environment that has swiftly migrated to an iterative, continuously evolving model, CenturyLink strives to assist our customers through this digital transformation by providing the tools they need to communicate and thrive in a digital world.

That commitment has led us to be named both a Microsoft Azure Expert Managed Service Provider and an Amazon Web Services (AWS) MSP Partner.

These certifications highlight our ongoing commitment to building robust services and delivering digital transformation to businesses on their cloud journeys. Our commitment to hybrid cloud, our recently enhanced suite of managed services, and the expansion of their availability continue to support today’s businesses as their work and workforces relocate to hybrid cloud.

Customers see this need to digitize their communications infrastructure and services, as well as other business functions, as a means to maintaining their competitive edge. We’ve responded by investing in robust communications solutions and integrating next generation partner technologies into our network; customizing solutions for enterprise, small business and government entities; and making data-intensive applications easier to consume, more reliable and more secure.

With over 450,000 route miles of fiber globally and operations in more than 60 countries, our Adaptive Network is the infrastructure foundation that can deliver virtual and...

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