CenturyLink Building Platform Momentum with Cloud Foundry

May 7, 2015
By Wendy White

While getting ready for Cloud Foundry Summit, I sat down with our resident AppFog product owner, Chris Sterling, and CenturyLink Cloud ecosystem head, David Shacochis, to discuss their respective efforts within the Cloud Foundry landscape and what they’re looking forward to at the upcoming event.

Q: With Cloud Foundry Summit right around the corner, what momentum do you see for the broader Cloud Foundry ecosystem?

Shacochis: Chris sent around this link the other day of Sam Ramji’s interview with Alex Williams on the Cloud Foundry ecosystem – it’s very consistent with the momentum we’re seeing around Cloud Foundry here at CenturyLink.

Sterling: Absolutely, and for anyone who hasn’t heard that podcast, it’s almost required listening if you want to better appreciate the past and future of Cloud Foundry.

Q: What stood out to you in that interview?

Shacochis: The important piece to me is the power an open-source ecosystem holds when it’s well-managed and incorporates diverse perspectives toward a shared goal. Ramji covers how many large organizations are part of the Cloud Foundry Foundation and driving innovations from their particular part of the industry into the code base. It made me think of all the work CenturyLink has been doing with the Foundation to fine-tune...

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3 Golden Rules of Microservice Deployments

May 7, 2015
By

Honey Comb

As a developer, you value the principles of SOA. You aspire to build applications as a set of consumable services via endpoints. Remember how Amazon used SOA to build the AWS platform and how Google is emulating AWS? However, not all is hunky-dory in the SOA world.

Developing is one thing but running, managing, and maintaining services is a whole other beast. When it comes to the latter, many enterprises still act monolithic. They run and manage applications services as a unit on one or many servers. This approach fails to scale when the services themselves scale or when you need to update and maintain them regularly. So do you lament over the spiking costs and time spent on these efforts or fix the problem?

Recent trends point to microservices as the answer. By definition, microservices are much smaller than services. In fact, Wikipedia says a microservice performs a small task often just one. There are many articles that go in deep about microservice architecture, but we cover an important part here, which is deployment automation. In other words, our daily job.

The self-contained, independent, and reusable principles of microservice architecture help solve the problem of scaling and maintaining application services.

  • Self-contained. microservices are
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What’s the Cost of Build Versus Buy DevOps?

May 5, 2015
By

Honey Comb

Nearly every business today relies on faster, innovative technology to succeed in the marketplace. How about the coffee you drink, or the movie you’re watching, or the phone on which you’re watching it? Name every business or walk of life. You can argue that technology serves to make it better. If DevOps helps deliver the best services and experiences to you, then should companies making the coffee, movies, and phones also make their own DevOps solutions?

I completely empathize with the challenges the developers and DevOps teams face in transforming a team or company from traditional development and delivery to an agile lifecycle. I experienced this firsthand at Trend. I led a business unit that acquired a SaaS company for online backup and storage; this young company updated and deployed code several times a day. It was painful to integrate their processes into ours. I wish Cloud Application Manager had been an option then. I cringe when I consider the time and costs of lost productivity, wasted development time, and delays in getting to market.

Faster Deployment Nirvana

Every day, I speak to several technology companies. Speed is at the top of their mind. They all experience the pain of not deploying and...

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Clarifying the Cloud Costing Conundrum: New Open Source Tools Do the Trick

April 23, 2015
By Jared Ruckle, Product Manager

A few years ago, understanding costs in the cloud was refreshingly simple: pay by the drink compute, storage and network. But as the market matured, it’s gotten more difficult.

Vendors have begun to differentiate. Third-party add-ons have filled specific gaps in features. An explosion of providers are competing for an ever-larger chunk of budget from an increasingly diverse customer base.

About a year ago, CenturyLink launched an online Cloud Total Cost of Ownership Tool with one simple goal: provide an unbiased apples-to-apples comparison between our offering and selected competitors. It has helped buyers understand the intricacies of the cloud computing market, and what the best value for them might be, even if it’s not CenturyLink.

Centurylink Cloud Total Cost of Ownership Tool

To increase the utility of this app, we’ve contributed the Cloud TCO Tool to the open-source world under the Apache 2 license. You can view the repo on Github.

If this sounds familiar, it's because we did something similar with our Cloud Services Estimator.

How does the TCO tool simplify cloud comparisons?

Normalized Compute Performance

Performance across providers is hard to compare for two key reasons:

  • Instance sizes. Some providers have a “T-shirt” model with fixed-instance sizes, while others offer the flexibility to resize on the fly.
  • Underlying hardware. Is your virtual machine running
...

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CenturyLink Acquires Orchestrate to Deliver Next Generation Data Services to Cloud

April 20, 2015
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management

One of the most important trends in cloud development is the emergence of the “12-factor app” style where complex systems are deconstructed into simple, scalable apps and services. An extension of this trend is the innovation and evolution we see in the database space.

Key/value stores, caching services, and all manner of NoSQL database capabilities have, in no small part, led to the explosion of innovation we commonly refer to as the “Internet of Things.” Applications and systems are collecting, storing and analyzing more data than ever, and developers increasingly embrace NoSQL options as their data store.

However, there are so many types of NoSQL databases that developers need to keep track of, and it seems like a new one emerges every day. There are dozens of database packages in the market that didn’t even exist five years ago. Each one has important tradeoffs. Is it easy to use? How does it scale? What does it take to get resilience? Developers are faced with the choice of either weaving together multiple technologies in order to get the backend services they need, or settling on a single-purpose platform that meets SOME of their requirements. There's got to be a better way, right? Orchestrate tackled...

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Important Update to CenturyLink Cloud Ticket Prioritization

April 17, 2015
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management

Effective immediately, a new ticket prioritization process is in place for incidents submitted to CenturyLink Cloud’s support team.

What is changing?

Our prioritization structure has simplified, to better reflect the type of incidents we receive from customers. In addition, the new structure reflects the different support tiers introduced several months ago.

What does this change mean for me?

This change is a minor modification to our internal incident handing process. The material impact to you is simplification of your support experience.

Why is this change taking place?

This change was implemented based on data received on submitted incidents, resolution times, customer feedback, and overall industry trends.

What is not changing?

Our SLAs and commitment to delivering a world-class customer experience.

Where can I get more information about this change?

This knowledge base article details the new changes: https://www.centurylinkcloud.com/knowledge-base/support/ticket-prioritization-matrix/

In addition, the process to request a ticket escalation remains unchanged: https://www.centurylinkcloud.com/knowledge-base/support/how-do-i-escalate-a-ticket/

Please reach out to noc@ctl.io if you have any questions.

...

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Automate Like Never Before with Perfect Vcenter Placement

April 16, 2015
By

vCenter Placement

I regularly consume resources from the VMware vCenter private cloud setup here at Cloud Application Manager. I’m not alone in that. vCenter is the most commonly used private cloud out there. Enterprises and developers, you will see why the changes we recently made will help you scale automated deployments in vCenter.

Those of you deploying to vCenter, you know about datacenters, templates, hosts, clusters, resource pools, compute resources, datastores, and such. Cloud Application Manager simplifies vCenter deployments by abstracting these infrastructure metadata from application metadata in boxes. Infrastructure metadata is in the deployment profile that you select right before deploying. Here we made it easy to visualize exactly where in the vCenter you’d like to place your VM and consume resources.

Placing Your VM

Until recently, to deploy an instance in vCenter, you selected a datacenter and from it a resource pool and virtual network. If you had several clusters or standalone hosts not part of a resource pool, you did not see them. Now you do.

Compute Resource

Now you see even the clusters and standalone hosts not part of a resource pool in a datacenter. In effect, you can place your VM in a resource pool, a cluster, or a standalone host provided they...

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AWS GovCloud and Cloud Application Manager: A Complementary Union

April 15, 2015
By

GovCloud

AWS GovCloud is one of the several popular clouds where Cloud Application Manager orchestrates and automates the lifecycle of applications. AWS GovCloud (US) is an isolated AWS Region for US government agencies and businesses to move sensitive workloads primarily because of regulatory and compliance requirements. If you’re curious about the use-cases for AWS GovCloud and the value Cloud Application Manager adds, you’re at the right spot.

Amazon GovCloud targets two kinds of usage:

  • Businesses that don’t have ITAR data but want to embrace the extra security layer in this region.
  • Government agencies or businesses with confidential data that must enforce regulatory compliance and security measures.

AWS GovCloud Use Cases

I’ll talk about some of the key scenarios where it makes sense to use AWS GovCloud:

  • High availability is important for mission critical apps in Oracle, SAP, and Windows. Such apps rely on fault-tolerant availability zones.
  • High-performance computing matters for apps that process big data. They need massive clusters to spin up and process large data loads in a very short time.
  • High data volume means higher primary and backup storage needs. Such storage should meet data security and compliance standards.
  • Web applications scale with user demand. Predictable workloads need reserved instances and in times of spikes, those payloads require
...

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Ecosystem Showcase: Orchestrate Brings Database Heroics to the CenturyLink Cloud Ecosystem

April 9, 2015
By Jennifer Lankford

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 Jennifer Lankford from Orchestrate, a provider of NoSQL database services focused on developer agility.

As interest from enterprise customers began to increase in late 2014, we decided to run some benchmarks on CenturyLink Cloud and take it through its paces. The results pleasantly surprised us and should make the users of competing cloud providers take notice. Not only did CenturyLink Cloud perform consistently better than the biggest providers on all fronts, its pricing is highly competitive, and it boasts a web-based GUI that makes the user experience a breeze. So today, we’re very excited to share that Orchestrate is now available on CenturyLink Cloud, and can be deployed today through the ecosystem.

This is great news because it gives CenturyLink’s global network of Fortune 1000 companies immediate access to the flexibility and cost-savings associated with Orchestrate. The partnership makes perfect sense for both companies and especially their customers — CenturyLink and Orchestrate share a common vision for simplifying the deployment of applications to...

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Self-Serve Ganglia Monitoring

April 8, 2015
By

Ganglia

As an operations team engineer, monitoring virtual infrastructure health is a pretty big deal. You aim to catch and resolve issues for hardware, devices, storage, memory, network, hosts, and the like in computing grids and clusters very early on. Monitoring systems like Ganglia are a must-have for such purposes. I’ll show a quick setup of Ganglia monitoring via Cloud Application Manager that you can add to any deployment and track infrastructure performance.

In Cloud Application Manager, built-in monitoring is available as a service in a self-serve catalog for your engineering and operations teams to launch to any cloud infrastructure on-demand. Cloud Application Manager supports a wide range of configuration management tools, orchestrates provisioning on popular cloud providers, and allows teams to collaborate on deployment assets. If you follow or use Cloud Application Manager, you know that complex deployments happen much faster in a few clicks versus long hours.

Ganglia is a useful monitoring service for large-scale web applications. It provides distributed monitoring at scale for clusters and grids. It’s popular because it’s easy to set up and tracks a ton of metrics. It monitors computing systems including hardware, storage, network, and software. You can port metrics for alerting and visualization by integrating...

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Dynatrace Free Trial Utilizing CenturyLink Cloud Blueprint Now Available

April 8, 2015
By Kim Bannerman, Matthew Keenan, Michael Masterson

In February 2015 Dynatrace, a leading player in the field of Application Performance Management (APM), launched integration with the CenturyLink Platform. Dynatrace APM is laser focused on the details that matter for application performance, starting with 100% visibility into of the End-User transactions and spanning both Pre-Production and Production environments. Dynatrace provides integration with automation frameworks like the CenturyLink Cloud blueprints, Ansible, Chef, and Puppet, as well as many ticketing and notification systems. As cloud adoption increases across SME and Enterprise organizations, teams must fundamentally rethink the way they monitor scaling applications and dynamic infrastructure.

Some of the most common use cases for APM in the Cloud include

  • Dev/Test - Development and Test teams are moving faster than ever to support business needs, even shipping code releases multiple times per day. Reduce risk by measuring and comparing performance in every build and test in conjunction with real browser synthetics from around the world
  • Cloud Benchmarking - Baselining how applications perform in the cloud vs. their native compute habitat provides organizations with quantitative metrics to make the optimal infrastructure decision the first time, instead of iteratively guessing and testing
  • Dev/Ops - Managing the performance of applications in a cloud environment requires the ability to quickly
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CenturyLink Cloud Celebrates Pi Day with Pi Day Kids Hack Event

April 6, 2015
By Kimberly Bannerman, Director Cloud Evangelism Programs

Saturday, March 14, 2015 was one of the most epic version of “Pi Day” that most of us will see during our lifetimes. As everyone knows, when stretched to 31 decimal places pi is represented in decimal notation as 3.1415926535897932384626433832795 (whew!). When truncated, 3.14.15 gives us a few additional significant digits — enough to make any math enthusiast completely irrational!

To celebrate, CenturyLink Cloud organized an afternoon for young people in our technology community — helping them learn to “hack” on miniature Raspberry Pi units and learning software development practices with Seattle CoderDojo. The event was an idea that CenturyLink Cloud’s CTO, Jared Wray had been considering for over a year. Jared has 3 boys, and they have built projects using the Raspberry Pi units at home. Once the CenturyLink Cloud Development Center opened in Bellevue, WA, the event had a home.

"These days, I often find myself looking back to my childhood and using a computer for the first time. I remember placing my hands on that keyboard and thinking of all the things that I could do and create — like wielding a magical sword. Coding is more than just telling computers what to do for kids, it is showing...

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