Ecosystem Showcase: FoundationDB and the Multi-Model Database

March 6, 2015
By Jessica Rampen

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 Jessica Rampen from FoundationDB, a provider of polyglot database services focused on simplifying the database layer.

When CenturyLink announced their Hyperscale offering in early 2014, they were clearly focused on helping customers with their implementation of scale-out, NoSQL technologies. The proliferation of NoSQL databases is one response to the needs of modern applications, where not all data is best managed in a relational model. One challenge we've seen customers struggle with while experimenting with different database models: database bloat.

"If you're trying to choose a database technology for your application it can be really tough. The database market is evolving rapidly. From NoSQL, to NewSQL, to the mature relational systems, there's no shortage of solutions to sort through." – Stephen Pimentel, FoundationDB

Trying to run different databases together to power an application is an operational nightmare. Each has its own storage and retrieval requirements, and each requires developer and DBA skills that can be hard to find.

Why a multi-model database

We're one of the...

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The Platform Effect: Marketplace Provider Program

March 4, 2015
By David Shacochis

Plug In to Platform CenturyLink

It's great to have a thriving Cloud Development Center where we crank out new features for our platform, but we know we can’t do it all ourselves. As Al Gore once said on 30 Rock, “there's an old African proverb that I made upIf you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. We need to go far, quickly.”

Integrating With CenturyLink Cloud

We’ve been cultivating a technology ecosystem that we think will help our users go far, quickly. You can visit our newly-published CenturyLink Cloud Marketplace Provider Program to learn more. This new initiative supports integrations with a wide range of partner technologies who can "plug in" to CenturyLink Cloud as part of their user experience.

Technology partners can choose from three different types of integration patterns, one of the most flexible in our industry:

  • An Application Programming Interface (API) for automated interactions between any management system and the CenturyLink Cloud.
  • Our Blueprint orchestration engine. This powerful tool enables automated provisioning workflows for partner technology that combine dozens of configuration steps into one single click.
  • An Add-On framework (coming soon) for automating sign-ups to popular web services, while binding these external services to the CenturyLink Cloud platform.

Partners...

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Cloud Services Estimator: Now Open Source for the Channel

February 24, 2015
By Nathan Young, Creative Director

CenturyLink Cloud Price Estimator

The advent of cloud computing has brought about one of the largest business opportunities in decades for managed services providers, system integrators and VARs many of whom have adapted their business models to offer the agility provided by elastic infrastructure.

CenturyLink has been a popular destination for enterprises and partners alike, with some of our partners choosing to white label and resell our product. The capabilities that enable this are a major differentiator of our platform. We constantly look for ways to enable our partners to pass value onto their customers and today we are happy to add another tool to their belt.

We are pleased to announce that we are contributing our Cloud Cost Estimator tool to the open-source community under the Apache 2 license. This web app makes it easy to estimate a monthly bill for a customized set of resources on the CenturyLink Cloud service.

As we’ve marketed cloud to our own end user customers, this estimator has been an invaluable tool to help buyers understand the costs associated with building and managing apps in the cloud. Deep visibility and monitoring coupled with showback and chargeback capabilities extend the value once resources are up and running.

Now, our channel partners can...

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Pets & Cattle: Self-Service VM Import Makes the Case for Co-Existence

February 4, 2015
By Jared Ruckle

Metaphors are common in tech. They help explain new concepts to the masses in familiar terms. The most common cloud metaphor? Pets and cattle – often used to underscore how users should think differently about infrastructure and application design patterns in the cloud. The phrase was first publicized by Randy Bias (more good reading on the topic is here and here).

Cattle

SHERBURN, MN

Cloud-native apps — in the enterprise and otherwise — are almost exclusively run on instances best described as cattle. Why the term cattle?

  • Cattle are given numbers
  • They are similar to other cattle
  • When one gets sick, you get another one

Instances that are cattle can be quickly destroyed and replaced thanks to automation and modern application architecture.

Startups tend to use cattle for their flagship IP, with SaaS products to run their IT ops.

Go even further, and platform-as-a-service offerings like Cloud Foundry abstracts the management of cattle away altogether.

Pets

Exploring Kittens

In contrast, VMs that are pets are given names, and cared for extensively in the hopes of a long and happy life. Pets are more common in the enterprise world, where there’s an incumbent application portfolio that’s broad, diverse, and highly fragmented.

  • Pets are given names like pussinboots.cern.ch
  • They are unique, lovingly hand raised and
...

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Use Cloud Network Service for Making Hybrid Cloud a Reality

January 27, 2015
By Robert Lesieur, Director of Product Management

Enterprises and large organizations are quickly adopting hybrid clouds in order to balance agility, cost of operations, and security requirements. Gartner predicts that 50% of all enterprises will use hybrid cloud by 2017. Public cloud offers a balance of agility and control for applications that require continuous development methodologies and flexible scaling, while private clouds provide extensive security and compliance features, as well as low cost models for steady capacity applications. Tying these models together requires thoughtful networking.

CenturyLink's Cloud Network Service (CNS) is the unifying element tying public or private cloud together with dedicated hosting or colocation options into a hybrid cloud. It’s a robust Ethernet data center network service that is delivered in either a shared or dedicated model, with a menu of options carefully chosen to meet the needs of the vast majority of our customers.

In addition to providing connectivity amongst heterogeneous compute islands such as public cloud, colocation and dedicated hosting, CNS provides the ability to chain enhanced services such as load balancers, firewalls and WAN services such as CenturyLink IQ, CenturyLink’s MPLS circuit products. (note: CNS itself does not provide WAN capabilities.). Customers experience a significant reduction in the complexity and cost of private...

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On Multi-Cloud Management: the Incremental and the Transformative

December 9, 2014
By Jared Ruckle, Senior Product Manager. Find Jared on Twitter

Public cloud has so many enterprise IT execs excited.  The excitement stems from the right objectives (agility, OpEx, getting out of the infrastructure business), but is often associated with false expectations. 

Namely, the idea of an expansive, highly-centralized multi-cloud strategy.  In this scenario, an IT pro manages multiple clouds with ease.  Key to this vision: a “single pane of glass” management and orchestration layer.

The idea is solid – it hypothetically delivers interoperability, access to innovation across providers, and pricing arbitrage.  Who doesn’t want to seamlessly move workloads across clouds, without missing out on new features or price drops?

But the reality doesn’t match up.  Here are the problems:

  • Cloud interoperability is very difficult to achieve.  From a slew of service provider APIs, and a few open source ones, to monitoring, metering and identity and access requirements – just to name a few – its clear that “lifting and shifting” workloads from one place to another is not as easy at it might seem at first glance.
  • New features from each cloud provider take time to integrate into each 3rd party management tool. These vendors need to keep pace with innovation as well.  By definition, they will always be a few steps behind the
...

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DataGardens joins CenturyLink, adding proven disaster recovery offering to cloud portfolio

December 8, 2014
By

A comprehensive disaster recovery architecture requires careful planning and robust technology. To make this easier for CenturyLink customers, we’re excited to announce the acquisition of DataGardens Inc., a Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) provider based in Edmonton, Alberta. This is big news for our customers because it gives them a cost-effective and innovative way to mirror physical or virtual machine data to a highly available cloud environment. The acquisition announced today brings a proven disaster recovery offering into the CenturyLink Cloud portfolio and lets us more fully integrate this innovative toolset into our product suite.

Listen to any CIO and you’ll hear that business continuity is a critical component of a healthy IT portfolio. However, only 23 percent of technology professionals think that they can get their IT systems back up and running after disaster. This might explain why Forrester is seeing a growing number of enterprises turn to cloud and Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS).

CenturyLink and DataGardens have a longstanding partnering relationship and formed a closer cloud relationship earlier this year. DataGardens’ flagship software suite, SafeHaven, provides cloud-based disaster recovery by creating an offsite virtual data center in locations such as CenturyLink Cloud. Customers can define recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives, and...

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This Cloud has a Silver Lining

December 3, 2014
By Jeff Katzen

As a cloud architect, trying to explain to my family and friends what I do is sometimes amusing and often times a frustrating experience. Cloud is a term that is greatly overused and because of that everyone has a definition. For me, cloud is all about automation.

For end users who have had to endure extremely long procurement and delivery cycles for IT services, automation can be an intoxicating thing. Automation equals possibility… It is a powerful capability, and when used appropriately, can drive your business forward. It is all about speed, and wrapped in the economics of a public cloud model, enables businesses to try new ideas, launch new applications or expand into new geographies in a low risk way.

However, without an appropriate level of financial governance, automation can bring on storm clouds. It is not uncommon that I speak with organizations that have embraced public cloud only to have to change their course a short while later because they spent far more than originally anticipated. Pricing model transparency, or lack thereof, by a Cloud Service Provider is certainly a cause of these types of challenges. The real challenge is lack of financial governance or visibility into spend.

But don’t...

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Cloud Strategy Checkup

November 26, 2014
By Jared Ruckle, Senior Product Manager. Find Jared on Twitter

Our usual posts here focus on practical, hands-on advice for getting the most out of CenturyLink Cloud and the new capabilities we continuously rollout.

But sometimes, it’s helpful to step back and look at the big picture – particularly if your enterprise is managing scores of cloud apps from dozens of vendors.

Many customers we speak with are feeling the pain of this situation.  It’s not quite “Shadow IT,” because IT knows what’s happening.  But it’s the pain that comes with a lack of focus or cohesion around a much smaller set of strategic vendors.

Does this sound like your situation?  If so, have a look at our top six recommendations for advancing your Cloud strategy. The content is foundational, and may be messages you’ve heard before.  But it’s a great refresher as your business seeks to further the competitive advantage gained through cloud adoption.

...

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Managing a Team Development Environment with Vagrant and Chef

November 18, 2014
By Matt Wrock

Just about every software engineer has had the experience of onboarding with a new team and spending a day, a week or more getting their development environments situated so they can actually run the application they signed up to work on and start committing code and being productive. Some teams try to improve upon this by maintaining a team wiki that documents setup instructions and may even include setup scripts. Unless these are actively maintained and curated they may cause more harm than help, leading the new developer down dead ends and on wild goose chases.

The best solution is less narrative and more executable documentation. One tool that many developers use to facilitate this and one we use on the infrastructure automation team at CenturyLink Cloud is Vagrant. Vagrant is a tool that makes it easy to share virtual environments across different virtualization platforms and makes destroying and recreating those environments an easily repeatable process. It also provides a mechanism that allows you to code in your native environment while your app runs in a VM.

In my first few months on the CenturyLink Cloud team, I worked on a Windows machine using Hyper-V for virtualization. Now I’m on an Ubuntu...

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CenturyLink Cloud November Release: A “Role” Model for Enterprise Access

November 14, 2014
By Bryan Friedman, Senior Product Manager. Find Bryan on Twitter

Transparent Corporate Access to the CenturyLink Cloud

Identity and Access Management solutions help enterprise IT integrate multiple systems with existing authentication services. These capabilities play a crucial role in public cloud services, where IT is keen to avoid “shadow IT” and deliver self-service access to resources without compromising important InfoSec policies.

Simplifying this process for our customers via automation is a top priority – that’s why our Control Portal includes APIs and webhooks. We also support SAML for federation, single sign-on (SSO) and multifactor authentication (MFA).

That’s “identity.” So what about “access”?

Today, we released a new permissions model that implements an expanded role-based access control (RBAC) capability. These new features empower administrators to grant more granular access to specific areas of the CenturyLink Cloud Control Portal to users.

We’re rolling out eight roles (below) with varying degrees of access, each specifically designed to align with job functions seen within many enterprises today.  The upshot is fine-tuned access control, and enabling a “least-privilege” approach to enterprise cloud management.

Cloud Access that Looks Like Your Current Access

These roles reflect the most frequently requested levels of access, mapping to unique personas.  They range from full control (Account Administrators), specialized areas of expertise (Server Administrators, Server Operators,...

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Five Features to Secure Your Cloud Future

November 12, 2014
By Ben Brauer and Steve White

When enterprises make decisions on which cloud services to consider, security is the ultimate “table stakes” capability that any cloud provider must prove. There has been great innovation in the industry to assuage mainstream adopters, but not all cloud service providers are consistent in areas of identity management, network security, data security, threat prevention, and more.  Organizations and individuals still need to pay close attention to whether cloud service providers are delivering these five main security features:

  • Standards-based integration with identity management providers: Integrated identity has become a key enabler to quickly provision and (more importantly), de-provision access to company resources and data. To facilitate this, the service should have an identity solution for their management tools that quickly and easily integrates with existing processes used by the customer through a standards-based mechanism such as Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) 2.0, OAuth 2.0 with OpenID Connect, etc. This type of integration also provides complete control over password complexity rules, expiration, and the ability to require various forms of multi-factor authentication. In addition to standards-based integration, the service should also provide an easy-to-use, stand-alone multi-factor authentication (MFA) mechanism for those customers who don’t already have an existing identity management solution. This encourages
  • ...

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