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

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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    Platform Team Hack House 2014

    November 11, 2014
    By @nathanyoung, Creative Director

    The CenturyLink Cloud Platform Team recently spent two weeks together in the city of St George in Southwest Utah. In what’s become an annual event, the team—including developers, testers, product managers and design—stayed in the “Hack House” to work on our Cloud Platform, as well as get to know each other outside the confines of our beautiful new office. By spending the time to connect with each other, we build trust and empathy, which enables us to interact and collaborate at a higher level. We’re firm believers that if you actually like your coworkers, you’ll be happier and do better work because of it. The Hack House is a great way to forge this bond.

    Some of the team at the top of AngelAt the top of Angel’s Landing

    However, just because we went away to sunny and dry Southwest Utah, doesn’t mean we spent the whole time hiking in Zion National Park. The focus of the development iteration centered around new role based access controls and feature flags for individual data centers, which will be released tomorrow. Still, during down time everyone took advantage of what the area had to offer, from hiking, photography, and mountain biking, to fixing that bug that always bothered you but never had time...

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    Designing an Office for Collaboration and Culture

    November 7, 2014
    By Wendy White. Find Wendy on Twitter at @wendywhite.

    Q&A with James Newkirk, CenturyLink Cloud VP of Engineering

    This week CenturyLink will celebrate the opening of our Cloud Development Center in Bellevue, WA.  I sat down with James Newkirk, Engineering VP for CenturyLink Cloud, who anchored the team designing and overseeing the build out of the new Center’s space to get his insights on what went into the design.

    Why did we select Bellevue, WA as the home of our new Cloud Development Center?

    Seattle and its surrounding area are the growing center of the cloud universe. We know that if we want to tap into the growing talent pool of cloud computing experts and developers, the greater Seattle area is a great place to be.

    We chose our new location in Bellevue for a couple of reasons.  First, as a nod to our heritage with Tier 3 which was founded and headquartered in Bellevue.  Secondly, was access to transportation – a lot of employees use public transport and our new location is close to the transit center.  Finally it’s very central to great restaurants – we wanted employees to have options to get quality food on lunch breaks or easy access to social outlets. We all know engineers like food.

    It’s a...

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    Hadoop Simplified: Managed Cloudera & CenturyLink Cloud

    October 31, 2014
    By Ben Brauer

    Today we are excited to release six managed Cloudera Blueprints, the newest managed service in the CenturyLink Cloud big data Blueprints portfolio, which also includes Cassandra and MongoDB solutions.

    The Apache Hadoop open-source project solves all sorts of big data problems, but for many it’s difficult to deploy and manage. Cloudera solves this problem by provisioning and managing Hadoop components in a manner that allows users to focus on their data sets. And now, with the CenturyLink Cloud Blueprint for Cloudera – a deployable configuration that brings the new environment online in a couple of clicks—users can take all of the complexity of Hadoop and shrink it down to one black, err blue, box:

    Running Hadoop with Cloudera and CenturyLink Cloud combines simplicity, superior performance and flexibility, allowing businesses to utilize their data to drive innovation faster than ever before. By deploying Cloudera on CenturyLink Cloud, customers get all of the expected benefits of hourly pay-as-you-go self-service, agility, elasticity and governance. Given that the service is also managed, customers can also take advantage of software updates, patching and general cluster management. It’s an easy way for IT pros and database administrators to get their cluster provisioned and managed.

    Making Managed Cloudera Easy

    Automating a...

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    CenturyLink Cloud and Open Source

    September 27, 2014
    By Jared Ruckle, Senior Product Manager. Find Jared on Twitter

    On the heels of the opening of Cloud Development Center, it seems timely to revisit one of our founding beliefs: the embrace of, and contribution to, open source technologies.

    We have seen open-source win in the enterprise again and again - especially as it relates to cloud computing and new web-scale architectures.  Why?

    • Many developers, rather than few publishers.  The creativity of the masses is fundamental to open source; with a diverse set of creators, a diverse set of technologies is the result.  Some of them are bound to stick.
    • No “innovators dilemma.”  While traditional vendors are focused on existing revenue streams, new players and individual developers are free to experiment without cannibalizing an existing product.
    • Low cost of failure.  Developers can download bits, and start experimenting.  If something doesn’t work out, the only loss is time.  With a licensing model, there are usually more complex business terms involved in even trying a new product or tool.
    • New business models focused on usage and support, not licensing.  The companies that have successfully commercialized open source tend monetize “customer success” and “win-win” scenarios instead of a multi-year licensing model that is likely to favor the publisher.
    • More options. Open source doesn’t always mean you are free from

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    CenturyLink Expanding our Cloud Managed Services to the UK

    September 21, 2014
    By [email protected], or follow me: @jimbattenberg

    Today we are pleased to announce one-click access to cloud-based managed services on the CenturyLink Cloud in the UK.

    CenturyLink Cloud managed services provide automated provisioning of operating systems and applications – check the box when you need them, uncheck when you don’t – all billed hourly.  When paired with our easy-to-use cloud infrastructure, you get up and running quickly with the peace of mind you need from managed apps and operating systems.

    Now customers in the UK or global customers using UK nodes can mix and match cloud-based managed services, public and private cloud, and even colocation – all under one roof. This suits enterprises who want to embrace hybrid IT as part of their cloud journey, as well as those who just want to leave legacy applications where they are for the time being, but have access to the flexibility of cloud infrastructure when they need it.

    With this launch, customers can take advantage of the following services from our Slough data center: Windows and Red Hat Enterprise Linux managed operating systems, as well as managed applications Active Directory, Apache HTTP Server, Apache Tomcat, Microsoft Internet Information Services, Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL.

    And, if you want even more assistance, our cloud...

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