DevOps Gets Physical (Office Space)

September 7, 2014
By Jared Ruckle, Senior Product Manager. Find Jared on Twitter

There’s no shortage of DevOps experts these days.  These luminaries are everywhere - blogs, social media, trade shows, you name it.  Most agree that DevOps best practices fall into three categories: People, Process, and Tools.

You can read all about those in this space, and elsewhere. But once you look past the slideware, the conferences, and the consultants – one question lingers.

What does DevOps look like in a workplace?

How do the principles of collaboration, instant feedback, cross-functional teams, and shared objectives actually come together in a physical office?

As we designed our new CenturyLink Cloud Development Center in Bellevue, a few delegates from the CenturyLink Cloud team had the opportunity to create the perfect environment for DevOps. And, to do it from scratch, with few restrictions.  After all, this Center was one of the major components underpinning CenturyLink’s acquisition of Tier 3 nearly a year ago.

So what are some of the results?

Team rooms, organized by function.  The majority of our space is dedicated to “team rooms” – large, open rooms where employees are grouped by workstream (platform team, application services team, service engineering, etc.). As we build new features and push them to production, all the people you need to interact with...

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Inside Look at CenturyLink Cloud Development Center

August 30, 2014
By Guest post by Joe Kanagusuku, Global Account Manager

Cloud. It’s a disruptive force. Here in Seattle some may think of it only in terms of weather, but at CenturyLink we know it’s something much greater and its impact on our organization is being felt company wide. It’s been less than a year since CenturyLink acquired Bellevue-based Tier 3 and branded it CenturyLink Cloud. At the time we announced our plans of opening the Cloud Development Center in the Seattle area, saying “Tier 3’s products, roadmap and vision are now the foundation of CenturyLink’s cloud strategy and anchor the new Seattle-based CenturyLink Cloud Development Center.”

Why Seattle? It turns out Seattle is the center of the cloud universe. Forbes ranked it the best city for tech jobs. We all know that Amazon has an enormous campus in South Lake Union, Microsoft is headquartered in Redmond, but did you know Google’s development center for cloud is based in Seattle and Kirkland? And, since the entire country believes it rains here 24/7, can you think of a more natural place for the Cloud Development Center to be placed?

Officially opening on October 14th, the CenturyLink Cloud Development Center encompasses almost 30,000 square feet in Bellevue, WA. Beyond its partnership with CenturyLink Field –...

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Safehaven Run Book Automation – A small change with a big impact

August 30, 2014
By Scott Good, Senior Product Manager

In an earlier post, we discussed SafeHaven for CenturyLink Cloud Disaster Recovery- as-a- Service (DRaaS) solution and the benefits it offers IT Administrators.  As we noted, failing over a multi-tiered application when executing a disaster recovery plan is critical. However, it’s not always as easy as it seems.  In order for a multi-tiered application to recover correctly, the VMs upon which it depends start up according to a prescribed “recovery plan.”  For instance, it is usually necessary for the database to be running before application servers boot and, similarly, necessary that application services be running before webservers boot.

Safehaven for CenturyLink Cloud’s latest feature enhancement, Run Book Automation, allows end users to configure custom shut-down and bring-up plans for each group of IT systems that received disaster protection.  For example, delivering web services often involves a set of interdependent workloads that need to start in a specific order and taking into account time intervals between applications.

For each group of IT systems within the CenturyLink Cloud, users can pre-configure and test recovery plans in the Safehaven Console that identifies bring-up and shut-down order, actions, delays, as well as any custom script to be executed as part of the recovery operation. ...

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[UPDATED] “Shellshock” Vulnerability & What You Need to Know

August 25, 2014
By Jared Ruckle, Senior Product Manager. Find Jared on Twitter

A new vulnerability was recently identified in the “bash” shell that a default component of most Linux operating systems deployed globally today. This vulnerability – dubbed “Shellshock” - is being compared to what was experienced earlier this year with the Heartbleed bug because of the widespread use of the impacted Linux operating systems.

Shellshock has been assigned the highest risk rating of “10” according to the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS). Why? The vulnerability can be exploited across the network, it does not require any authentication to exploit, and exploiting this vulnerability is simple.


Unmanaged Customers - Patch Your Systems in the CenturyLink Cloud Immediately


If you have instances running a Linux operating system in CenturyLink Cloud data centers, you are likely affected.  Our unmanaged customers are responsible for day-to-day configuration and deployment of these systems, so it is the customer’s responsibility to remediate any affected systems.

We recommend you apply the updates for this vulnerability as quickly as possible. This is especially important for those servers running Apache web servers as there are published exploits already circulating for Apache websites.


Managed Customers – Request Patching via Ticket with Managed Services Help Desk


Customers running managed environments (including Apache) on CenturyLink Cloud will have their systems...

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Private Cloud: Tradeoffs and Transformation

August 15, 2014
By Jared Ruckle, Senior Product Manager. Find Jared on Twitter

A few weeks ago, we announced CenturyLink Private Cloud – a new approach to the private cloud segment that offers breakthrough simplicity for large enterprises.  CenturyLink Private Cloud is designed for those looking to deploy a transformational private cloud, instead of eking out incremental gains.

Entering a new market segment is a significant undertaking for any product organization.  Every solution requires a series of trade-offs —just ask any product manager - and development of the CenturyLink Private Cloud is no exception.  So what were the trade-offs that we made, and how do they compare to other private cloud alternatives?  For a little insight into how we evaluated the private cloud market landscape and our decision making process, read on.

Homegrown solutions

Successful private cloud deployments – though more common these days – remain elusive. The brave souls that pursue a “do-it-yourself” approach often discover that:

  • Building a cloud is hard (especially the self-service and automation)
  • Running a cloud to 99.99% SLAs is hard
  • Just because you call it cloud doesn’t mean it is one
  • Users do not automatically gravitate to what you build
  • Lots of time and money are wasted when these lessons are learned the hard way. Forrester Research posted this great analysis of DIY private clouds:

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Recognizing the Challenges of Hybrid Cloud – Part IV

August 9, 2014
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

Hybrid cloud is becoming a standard operating model for many organizations. But how can you realize the expected agility when there are so many challenges ahead of you? In this series of articles, we’ve dissected each challenge and proposed some corresponding solutions. Whether you’re facing security and network concerns, or integration and system management issues, it’s critical to have a proactive plan in place. This final article rounds out the discussion by looking at ways to address the issues around portability, compatibility, and your existing toolset.

Solutions to Hybrid Cloud Challenges

In many cases, a hybrid cloud is the combination of complimentary – but not identical – computing environments. This means that processes, techniques, and tools that work in one place may not work in another.

Compatibility. Gluing together two distinct environments does not come without challenges. Now, it’s possible that you have the same technology stack in both the public and private cloud environment, but the users, technology, and processes may be dissimilar!

  *Move above the hypervisor. Even if your public cloud provider supports the import and export of virtual machines in a standard format, no legitimate public cloud exposes hypervisor configurations to the user. If you want...

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Recognizing the Challenges of Hybrid Cloud – Part III

August 8, 2014
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

As hybrid cloud adoption grows, proper architecture and design of these solutions becomes critical. In the first part of this article series, we discussed the challenges any organization faces when linking public and private cloud environments. The second article outlined strategies for mitigating the network and security challenges of hybrid cloud. In this third of four articles, we will assess success strategies for application integration and system management in hybrid clouds.

Solutions to Hybrid Cloud Challenges

Data and Application Integration. Nearly every useful system is made up of data and business logic from multiple applications. Siloed, monolithic systems are fading in popularity as more dynamic systems take their place. But as you look to work with data and applications in a hybrid cloud, you need to keep a few things in mind.

  *Recognize the presence of data gravity. The concept of data gravity—a principle identified by Dave McCrory that claims that applications and services are drawn closer to large collections of data—comes to play in a hybrid cloud. Do you find yourself shuttling data back and forth over long distances? Would it make sense to move some of your large data repositories to whichever cloud most of the consuming applications...

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Recognizing the Challenges of Hybrid Cloud – Part II

August 4, 2014
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

Many organizations are adopting hybrid clouds – a bridge of public and private cloud environments – but there are many pitfalls along the way. In the first part of this article series, we looked at the challenges that any organization faces in their hybrid cloud journey. Now it’s time to see how to overcome these challenges. In this second of four articles, we will revisit the first set of hybrid cloud challenges and discuss strategies for success.

Solutions to Hybrid Cloud Challenges

Lasting success with a hybrid cloud requires strategic planning, investment, and yes, some compromise. By definition, you are using services that are outside of your control. Hence, existing processes and technologies may need to be revisited if you want meaningful integration and the flood of efficiencies that follow.

Keep in mind that every part of your organization cannot accommodate the same level of change associated with a hyper-efficient hybrid cloud. Lydia Leong of Gartner points out that organizations with “bimodal IT” – where pockets of traditional IT and agile IT co-exist – are most successful when they do NOT have a universal set of processes, tools, and skills. If your IT organization is bimodal, consider which parts of the organization...

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Explaining the Managed Cloud with Three Key Equations

July 26, 2014
By David Shacochis, VP Cloud Platform. Find David On Twitter

Having been in the cloud infrastructure business since it came into existence, I’ve seen a number of different market forces shape and disrupt the industry.  The business side of my brain tends to focus on everything that’s changing.  But the engineering side of my brain tends to look for sustained constants in all the volatility. Sounds like a big data problem! Our data science team has crunched the numbers, and here are the key equations that help shape the managed cloud.

Ownership != Control

IT leaders often mistake having a tight grip on asset ownership with a tight grip on the steering wheel. With good but slightly misguided intentions, they want to own everything they use. This can lead to over-expenditure on common, undifferentiated hardware as well as under-utilized, over-engineered software products.  The own-it-all approach also builds a strong correlation between new IT projects and business growth initiatives, a situation that leaves IT permanently behind in delivering value to the business.

The critical challenge for any IT department is to provide an agility platform that addresses the digital needs of the business under competitive pressure.  The goal is to have true command and control over all IT resources, even if you don’t actually...

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CenturyLink Makes Massive Private Cloud Massively Easy - Deploy in Over 55 Locations in 7 Countries

July 20, 2014
By Jared Ruckle, Product Management

Public cloud is an important part of enterprise IT.  Why?  Self-service.  APIs.  Automation.  Access to new features regularly.  Global reach. Outsourcing of infrastructure management.  OpEx consumption.

But it’s not the be-all, end-all.

Enterprise apps will always require a range of infrastructure options – Hybrid IT – including bare metal, traditional hosting…and private cloud.

The private cloud market is relatively immature (more on this in a forthcoming blog post).  The more we looked at this segment, the more we saw an opportunity to offer customers a unique value proposition.

“You got chocolate in my peanut butter…”

With CenturyLink Private Cloud, we’ve combined our approach to public cloud with the most important elements of a private cloud.

Public cloud-style agility, scale, and automation – running on dedicated hardware with physical isolation.  Available in over 55 data centers worldwide.  That’s CenturyLink Private Cloud.

We spare customers from the drudgery of infrastructure management, while offering more control over what truly matters: everything that happens from the platform up.

For example, administrators dictate who has access to the pod and what they can do on it – while wielding complete authority to govern how the node is used day-to-day.  If an instance in the public cloud is an apartment in a large building,...

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Recognizing the Challenges of Hybrid Cloud – Part I

July 18, 2014
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product at CenturyLink Cloud

CIOs are adopting the hybrid cloud paradigm in droves, as we recently pointed out in a contributing article. As public cloud adoption continues to surge, organizations are turning their attention to connecting public compute resources to infrastructure residing in on-premises data centers. Can you just set up a VPN between the sites and call it a day? Hardly. Establishing a meaningful hybrid cloud requires considerate planning across many dimensions. How will you secure it? What does it mean to maintain services across organizational boundaries? Are workloads portable between environments? In this first of four blog articles, we’ll look at some of the biggest challenges that you’ll face as you set up a hybrid cloud environment.

What Challenges Will You Face?

Any vendor or consultant who promises a “seamless and straightforward” hybrid cloud is not being realistic. There are technical, cultural, and logistical challenges that await you. Let’s discuss a few that you should prepare for.

Security. This is usually the first item in any list regarding cloud computing, so why not this one too? As you plan out or mature your hybrid cloud, issues like compliance, identity management, and data protection will be front and center. Can you ensure data sovereignty...

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Deploying Docker Containers on CenturyLink Cloud

July 13, 2014
By Bryan Friedman, Senior Product Manager. Find Bryan on Twitter

If you’ve been reading cloud-related news lately or you follow any developers or system admins on Twitter, then you’ve undoubtedly seen the words “container”, “Docker”, and “CoreOS” written a few thousand times over the past year or so. Chatter has particularly picked up in the last few months with Docker 1.0 being released in June and CoreOS announcing their first stable release within the past few weeks. CoreOS also received an 8 million dollar investment just a couple of months ago, and Docker just got another $40 million in funding a few days ago. And just yesterday, CenturyLink joined the container party and announced the release of the open-source Docker management platform, Panamax. Developed by the recognized thought-leaders at CenturyLink Labs, Panamax was described by RedMonk principal analyst James Governor as “Docker management for humans. It dramatically simplifies multi-container app deployment.”

This is bleeding edge technology we’re talking about here, so if you haven’t heard about any of it yet, there’s no time like the present. Docker is one of the fastest-growing open-source projects ever, with more than 550 contributors and 7 million downloads in just over a year since its release. The power of Docker lies in its ability to...

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