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 Forbes.com 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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Scale All of the Things! Go In, Out, Up, Down in the CenturyLink Cloud

June 30, 2014
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

Are you getting the full benefit of the cloud if you don’t take advantage of its elasticity? To be sure, there are many ways that cloud environments—running dynamic OR static workloads—can positively impact your business agility. But cloud computing fundamentally changes the relationship between infrastructure and workloads that run upon it; you can constantly right-size by adding and removing capacity on demand instead of being stuck with over-sized or under-powered environments. To do this effectively, you need flexible options for automatically and manually adjusting your infrastructure resources. In this post, I outline five different application scenarios, and which CenturyLink Cloud scaling capability delivers the optimal elasticity solution.

1. Modern web application with variable usage? Horizontal Autoscale!

Horizontal AutoscaleAre most of your internal or external facing web applications in constant, heavy use? If so, I’d be surprised! The applications that your employees rely on may be busy during predictable periods, or, experience load whenever random business conditions occur. Public web applications may spike in usage when marketing campaigns are in flight, or when an avalanche of traffic follows a social mention.

Instead of standing up gobs of (costly) infrastructure that only add value during random usage spikes, consider services like CenturyLink Cloud Horizontal Autoscale. Our...

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CenturyLink Cloud Expands Canadian Presence

June 8, 2014
By Jared Ruckle, Product Management

New cloud node in Toronto gives customers more choice and flexibility for Canadian-based cloud services

The CenturyLink Cloud global footprint expansion continues.

Today, we’re excited to give customers a new public cloud deployment option in Canada. Effective immediately, customers can deploy and manage virtual resources in our “CA3” cloud node in our CenturyLink Toronto “TR1” facility.

For businesses based in Canada, and those that do business in Canada – this new CenturyLink Cloud node offers several benefits: data sovereignty (for compliance), performance (host your apps close to your users) and the best aspects of having the CenturyLink Cloud available in a CenturyLink facility:

  • Scale.  The CA3 node is built to handle the pent-up demand for cloud services in Canada.
  • Advanced connectivity. CenturyLink customers who already deploy resources in our TR1 location can now connect existing infrastructure to our public cloud offering. Customers using nearby TR3, our new Toronto data center opening later this year, will also be able to take advantage of this capability.
  • Self-service access to a robust set of cloud services.Users have Lots of options to build and manage enterprise cloud environments, including Hyperscale instances with 100% flash storage for Hadoop and NoSQL workloads.

Have additional questions?  We’ve got answers!

**

What cloud services are available...

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A Watershed Event for Cloud:  Managed Services On Demand

May 18, 2014
By Jared Wray, CTO of Cloud

We are in the business of solving real problems. That’s what our customers expect.  And today, we are announcing a new managed service that does just that.  Today we are introducing a cloud-based managed services offering that will help corporate managers minimize costs, complexity and risk while increasing agility and freeing budget for capabilities that transform the business and create competitive differentiation.  At CenturyLink, we believe that one of the most significant measures of problem solving is doing what we do best – managing the infrastructure that underpins the critical business initiatives of our clients and infusing that management with the automation and economics of our cloud platform.  Combined, those two elements deliver a value that no other provider can compete with today.  Infrastructure and people to run that infrastructure on-demand, paid for by the hour. Simply put, we are making cloud easier to manage for our customers.

We all know that Cloud is crossing a threshold into a new level of enterprise adoption possibilities. Enterprises now consider the cloud to be a basic necessity; a core element of their IT portfolios.  The challenge, however, is that most cloud platforms still operate on the do-it-yourself basis as cloud providers have...

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8 Managed Services, Remastered for Public Cloud

May 18, 2014
By Jared Ruckle, Product Management

Today, we announce a new way to consume managed services - a cloud-friendly way.

This is exciting news for us, given CenturyLink’s expertise in both cloud and managed services.  Our CTO Jared Wray posted his thoughts here on what this news means for our company and the industry.

Let’s look into the details of these powerful new cloud-based managed services.  The heart of our value proposition to customers is two-fold:

  • Automation, front-and-center.  We’ve automated best practices for the configuration, monitoring, and ongoing administration of 8 managed services.  The provisioning of each service is also automated, via our Blueprints orchestration engine.
  • Humans, when you need them.  Of course, humans play a key role in uptime and performance of managed environments.  But our managed services involve them intelligently, with proactive notifications.  These alerts indicate that a decision, or perhaps a manual action, is required.  That means our team is engaged, and hands-on with your environment whenever it’s needed, 24x7.

Both of these principles are hallmarks of public clouds – automation to the Nth degree, with humans jumping in only when needed.  This approach yields self-service, hourly billing, and scale.  All three are big wins for customers.

Here’s what is available on CenturyLink Cloud, effective June 30.  8 managed...

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June Software Update Brings Bandwidth Price Drop and More

May 11, 2014
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

Last month CenturyLink Cloud announced some major pricing changes that took effect instantly for many customers. The adjustment to public  bandwidth pricing –  from a 95/5 billing model to $0.05 per GB transferred outbound – took effect on June 1st and gives our customers one of the lowest entry-level bandwidth prices in the cloud. 

Our latest monthly platform release reflects this bandwidth change in a few places. Bandwidth graphFirst, the bandwidth graph on the CenturyLink Cloud dashboard now shows you how much data has been transferred over public IPs. And because we’ve moved to a simpler bandwidth calculation, your real-time consumption is now rolled into our ever-present cost widget. This helps customers see their costs as they happen versus waiting until invoice time to see how the bandwidth charges were calculated for the month. Customers will also see their bandwidth consumption clearly called out on the monthly invoice. Pricing and consumption transparency is key as you assess your spend and make on the fly adjustments based on forecast usage. For more on our bandwidth update, take a look at the FAQ in our Knowledge Base.

We also introduced some major changes to the “create server” process in the CenturyLink Cloud. The new experience...

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CenturyLink Recognized as a “Visionary” in the Gartner Cloud IaaS MQ

April 30, 2014
By Jared Ruckle, Product Management

Plus 5 Observations on the Market Landscape

Last year, we opined that the cloud market, based on our read of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, had grown up.  If 2013 was the year of maturity, 2014 is the year the market hit the gas.

Download the Magic Quadrant reprint here, and take a look at the findings for yourself.  You’ll notice that most vendors are lower and to the left than they were a short 9 months ago when the last MQ was published. This market raises the bar at a rapid pace – and only a handful of companies have been able to improve their standing by adding new features and new customers.

Per usual, the cloud team at Gartner doesn’t take vendors at their word, but instead dives into each vendor’s product portfolio, while conducting countless customer interviews.  Their findings on CenturyLink?

This is a brilliant summary of our platform.  Further, it reflects our slogan of “IT-Ready, Developer-Friendly.”  Delivering a platform that delights both constituencies is our core focus.

What about the future?

With IT and developers in mind, we’re building our platform, 21 days at a time.  In the coming months, enterprises will consume managed services and...

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Why Reliable Cloud Performance Matters

April 14, 2014
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

People are right to be wary of any vendor claiming to be the “top performing!” or “fastest!” cloud provider. Most folks know that ANYTHING can look spectacular – or unspectacular for that matter – if you stack the deck just right. But at the same time, cloud shoppers have a deep hunger for legitimate information on realistic performance expectations. Cloud performance has a direct impact on what you spend on compute resources, how you decide the right host for your workload, and how you choose to scale when the need arises. In this blog post, we’ll summarize some recent findings and put them in context.

With the launch of our new Hyperscale instances, we approached an independent analytics company, CloudHarmony, and asked them to conduct an extended performance test that compared CenturyLink Cloud Hyperscale servers to the very best equivalent servers offered by AWS and Rackspace. CloudHarmony is a well-respected shop that collects data from dozens of benchmarks and shares the results publicly for anyone to dissect.  After running a variety of benchmarks over a long period of time (to ensure that the test gave an accurate look over an extended window), they shared their findings with the world. See the...

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