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 upfront cost...

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Control Public and Private Cloud Spend with Cost Center Budgeting

August 4, 2015
By

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). Cloud Application Manager 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 Cloud Application Manager, you do this in the Admin Console under Cost Centers. A cost center represents the users, teams...

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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

    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, Cloud Application Manager is available as a virtual appliance.

    Today, the Cloud Application Manager 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 Cloud Application Manager 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 Cloud Application Manager, 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 Cloud Application Manager. 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...

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    NTT Cloud Reality Check Reveals Global Enterprise Challenges to Cloud Adoption

    July 23, 2015
    By

    NTT Cloud Reality Check

    Earlier this year, NTT communications commissioned a poll of 1600 ICT decision makers including IT directors, CIOs, CTOs across the USA and Europe. These are people in charge of setting tactical and strategic policies for development teams. The NTT poll asked them various questions such as which applications best suit which infrastructure? Is there a link between application maturity and applications that suit the cloud versus corporate datacenter?

    The results from the poll and the analysis form the highlights of the NTT Cloud Reality Check report. The report shows key trends by country, industry, as well as by company size. We asked Len Padilla Vice President Product Strategy at NTT Europe about some of the key insights.

    NTT found that the ‘which cloud’ decision is not merely a technical one but a complex one. Can you explain?

    Let me give a little bit of background on the research first. What we were looking for with the research and the survey was to understand in which environment people were putting what kinds of applications.

    Remote IT is a spectrum with a lot of available options. We encountered everything from customers running applications in their datacenter and managing it themselves to having their datacenter and having...

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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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    A Primer on Private, Hybrid, or Public Cloud Deployments in vCloud

    July 21, 2015
    By

    vCloud Blog

    If you are familiar with vCenter and vSphere, you’ve probably heard of vCloud Director and vCloud Air, or even plan to migrate your existing vSphere platform to vCloud. But for those new to vCloud, what is it?

    Here I’ll explain both vCloud Air and vCloud Director. vCloud Air is a hybrid cloud platform for high-performance production workloads. It provides virtual compute, storage, and networking infrastructure built on VMware vSphere. It offers services such as virtual private cloud, dedicated cloud, and disaster recovery, and is available both by subscription and on demand.

    vCloud Director, on the other hand, helps with building secure private clouds. Since it runs on the top of vCenter, it hides vCenter cluster resources from the vCloud users thereby providing a level of abstraction.

    Support for vCloud in Cloud Application Manager

    Cloud Application Manager integrates both vCloud Air and vCloud Director through the VMware vCloud Director API, which also works with vCloud Air. To start deploying workloads to either platform, register your vCloud Director or vCloud Air account as a provider in Cloud Application Manager. Cloud Application Manager identifies the organizations, virtual datacenters, and catalogs the user account can access and makes them available for automated deployments from Cloud Application Manager.

    Add vCloud Provider

    How vCloud

    ...

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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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    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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    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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    3 Fundamental Ways Cloud Application Manager Can Impact Your Bottom Line

    July 9, 2015
    By

    Soccer Net

    Watching the women’s world cup final last weekend was thrilling. Of course it was fun to see the USA women’s team win the soccer championship (football for those living outside of the US). Having coached my son’s soccer team for many years, I was awed by the team’s mastery of soccer fundamentals and appreciated how much drilling and practice led them to the championship.

    In business, the win isn’t always so crystal clear. From the executive suite, the demand on application teams and DevOps is to deliver faster, with higher quality. That’s the win – the outcome. To achieve that outcome, it’s necessary to drill, practice, and master the fundamentals of agile delivery.

    At the heart of agile delivery, DevOps’ promise is “speed to value” for organizations. This is what businesses are seeking as they’re under pressure to deliver faster speed to value. There’s a lot of discussion swirling about how to do it and how to measure the ROI. In speaking with enterprise prospects and customers, it’s clear that while it would be awesome to have a sophisticated model to measure the ROI of DevOps tools and resources, most teams are seeking foundational progress.

    1. “Our deployment process is chaotic and not...

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    The Cloud Application Cycle Is Broken — Can It Be Fixed?

    June 30, 2015
    By

    Open Source

    I’ve had the honor of sitting in the same room with many customers and prospects who share their business models and technology challenges. In the exact words of one of our customers, “Our cloud deployment is a horrendous process.” From others, “Our developers work in their own private cloud, and they send us the release code and it takes us days to weeks to get it running in production.”

    Doesn’t the cloud promise faster, more agile development with reduced costs? Why then isn’t this promise being fulfilled at most companies adopting DevOps and cloud?

    Why Is It Broken?

    I keep hearing a recurring theme. Heavy use of open source tools and development and production environments that don’t mirror each other. Developers have their favorite list of tools and operations theirs. Neither group understands how to use and configure the tools the other group is using. Throw in multiple versions of these tools and it quickly becomes an unwieldy mess. Here’s a sample set of technologies and stacks we come across:

    We commonly see development teams using these technologies:

    • Python
    • MySQL
    • Git
    • Jenkins
    • MongoDB
    • Node.js
    • ADD MORE

    We commonly see operations teams using these technologies:

    • Chef
    • Puppet
    • Ansible
    • Nginx
    • Splunk
    • New Relic
    • AppDynamics
    • ADD MORE

    And we see development, test, QA, and production run on these clouds and platforms:

    • Amazon AWS
    • Google Compute
    • Microsoft Azure
    • VMware
    ...

    Read on...


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