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...

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Control Public and Private Cloud Spend with Cost Center Budgeting

August 4, 2015
By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

Control Cloud Spending

Managing the IT spend for multiple teams across multiple cloud services is a daunting prospect, particularly, when you have to monitor usage for each cloud and team. Cloud environments promise scalable, pay-as-you-use pricing, and easy setup. On the flip side, organizations running workloads on multiple platforms and hybrid clouds lack visibility, which is critical to cost governance and understanding the total cost of ownership (TCO). ElasticBox can help you gain visibility and control over the foggy world of cloud deployments with the help of Cost Centers.

Suppose you want to monitor what developers consume as part of testing on Amazon cloud or a private datacenter like vSphere or OpenStack. There are three ways to control cloud spend:

  • Monitoring usage

  • Applying usage limits

  • Enforcing limits

  • Overspending mainly occurs when people forget to turn off machines, which can happen time to time. Using the 3-step approach you can keep on top of cloud costs and inform developers when they’re close to hitting the allowed quota.

    Monitor Usage and Apply Limits

    So the first step is to set up a way to monitor and measure cloud spending. In ElasticBox, you do this in the Admin Console under Cost Centers. A cost center represents the users, teams or projects in your...

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    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...

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    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

    ...

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    How to Securely Hook Up a Cloud Management Platform in Your Private Datacenter

    July 30, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Platform Security

    Most customers prefer cloud application lifecycle management as a SaaS service. But we’re conscious of companies whose high-security constraints like limited datacenter Internet access or fully controlled periodic backups require an on-premise solution. For those companies and DevOps users, ElasticBox is available as a virtual appliance.

    Today, the ElasticBox virtual appliance is an OVF package for vCenter vSphere and in QCOW2 format for OpenStack. To get access to all the same functionality as the SaaS solution, the only thing you have to do is install the virtual appliance in your virtual platform and plug into your datacenter network. At which point, you experience ElasticBox hosted on your infrastructure where you get the same controls to manage, backup, and restore as you do on other systems in your datacenter.

    At ElasticBox, we care deeply about security and for this reason all the communication for the SaaS and the virtual appliance solutions are encrypted. By default, we ship the virtual appliance with a certificate signed by ElasticBox. But using the appliance setup console, you can set up a certificate signed by a trusted CA or install your self-signed certificate.

    To create and install a self-signed certificate in the ElasticBox virtual appliance, follow these steps:

  • Install the

  • ...

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    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,...

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    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...

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    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...

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    Different Hosts for Different Folks – Agile Infrastructure Services & You

    July 16, 2015
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Management

    Take a look at the application portfolio of any enterprise. The range and diversity is astounding. You’ll see apps running on many types of infrastructure (mainframes, physical servers, virtualized), and in different physical locations (on-premises, colocation, in the public cloud).

    Layer in different development languages, the desire for managed services, plus security and compliance considerations by application – and it’s easy to see why IT pros yearn for simplicity and efficiency in day-to-day management.

    And that’s just the legacy “keep the business running” stuff. What about the new, transformative apps that differentiate the business? Analytics, Hadoop, mobile, and cloud-native apps are a different challenge that require a different mindset.

    Our goal at CenturyLink is to dramatically simplify the management of infrastructure that powers all these scenarios, and do it in a way that delivers a competitive advantage for the enterprise.

    Today, we take a big step towards that goal.

    Two new products join our flagship public and private VM-based services in the CenturyLink Cloud: bare metal (physical servers, on-demand) and AppFog (multi-tenant Cloud Foundry).

    These four “core” capabilities offer customers the flexibility to use the right service based on their application characteristics: underlying architecture, elasticity needs, sensitivity of data, and level of isolation required.

    What’s more, they...

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    Automated Patching: Improving security and efficiency in the Cloud

    June 25, 2015
    By Navin Arora, Operating Systems Product Manager

    Cloud computing has automated the traditional IT world, reducing application development time, while increasing speed and agility. Most of the automation has focused on things that are mostly short term in nature, like spinning the servers up and down with the change in demand. However, when running critical applications, it’s important to keep servers patched and constantly up to date.

    Maintaining server patching is as crucial in the IT world as maintaining our cars in our day-to-day lives. Patching keeps servers healthy to fight malicious viruses, repel hacker attacks and perform like well-tuned cars. Most managed hosting customers have their servers manually patched, by scheduling this with their service provider. However, self-managed customers have to patch their own servers, a process that is tedious and time consuming, as they must manually check for updates and install them.

    CenturyLink Cloud now offers Patching as a Service to all our customers, both those that we manage as well as those that are self-managed, providing an automated, self-service patching approach that is both simple and provides for greater cloud security.

    CenturyLink customers can now patch their servers, whenever they want, through any of the following three methods:

  • Blueprint- simply run the appropriate blueprint for the OS -

  • ...

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    Run by Robots (and human experts when you need them, too)

    June 15, 2015
    By Jared Ruckle

    Executives, IT pros, and developers are all looking for ways to inject more automation into their business processes. Public cloud services are a key enabler. But there are degrees of automation.

    Run by Robots

    To take this notion further, the Gartner Mode 1 / Mode 2 perspective on enterprise IT is a helpful frame of reference. Let’s start with Mode 2 first:

    • Mode 2 workloads – the cloud-native apps – are everyone’s favorite son. These “transform the business” projects are API-driven, and built to scale on low cost, elastic compute. Automation is central to application architecture and design - so much so that very small teams of engineers can create amazing apps that “go viral” worldwide. “Robots” do all the undifferentiated heavy lifting.

    • Mode 1 workloads – the existing “core” apps that run the business today – have a different slant on automation. These programs were largely designed for traditional infrastructure or basic virtualization, and as such, are ill suited for cloud scale. But the opportunity for automation exists in the form of day-to-day maintenance and optimization. Human experts are needed to keep these apps running - often in the form of outsourced managed services - since significant internal investment can’t be justified.

    Our June release has...

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    Cloud Security Tools and Services

    June 10, 2015
    By Ben Brauer

    Third in a series of 3 blogs on Cloud Security

    Now that we’ve covered cloud security fundamentals and how CenturyLink secures its cloud, for our final post on security this week, we turn to addressing managed services for cloud-based resources.

    Many cloud users would like to assign the majority of security responsibilities to a third party service provider, particularly if the workloads and applications are not core to their business. Yet maintaining a high level of cloud security is essential to their business. Using a cloud service provider with expertise in cloud security makes sense; the right provider will have a breadth of experience and skilled employees in this specialized field. In-house cloud security expertise is increasingly hard to find, and even harder to keep.

    Security for Managed Server and OS

    CenturyLink Cloud offers managed services for operating systems and applications, such as a Windows Server running IIS, Active Directory, or Redhat Linux machines running Apache Tomcat. These managed services include built-in security features and security options. For example, the Operating Systems come with industry-standard anti-virus protection and regular virus and malware signature updates. It has to be hardened, e.g. by closing off ports, downloading and applying the latest security updates...

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