How I Learned to Stop Worrying About My On-Prem Data Center and Love the Cloud: The Data Center Transformation Playbook

March 25, 2015
By Jared Ruckle, Product Manager

I was chatting with a CIO the other day about his goals and vision for the organization. Highlights: supporting 2x revenue growth over the next several years. Delivering a differentiated customer experience. Mobile apps. Empowering his teams in the field.

Pretty good list, right?

We went on to discuss how cloud services could help his company achieve all of the above. But there was another pressing project on his mind: retiring his on-premises data center, in favor of the public cloud. Why was this “data center transformation” project a high priority for him?

  • Risk due to location. Office buildings, no matter how secure, can’t compare to the facilities offered by most data center providers. Environmental factors come in to play as well – the threat of natural disasters and even shoddy HVAC systems keep execs up at night.
  • Inordinate amounts of human time and effort. Administering servers, running procurement, fiddling with cabling, monitoring power and cooling - it's time consuming. And there’s just no upside to it. Best case? Your team keeps things running on par with what an outsourced provider can deliver…only without the price drops and new features. Think of all the other things these folks could
...

Read on...

Go Undercover with the Cloud Application Manager Agent

March 24, 2015
By

Agent Architecture

It’s no secret that Cloud Application Manager performs deployments on your remote virtual machines using an agent. But what goes on behind the scenes? What makes the agent tick? Join me for a deep dive.

Though not visibly apparent, when you trigger deployments from the web or API, the agent is the software we install on every virtual machine you deploy from Cloud Application Manager. Its sole purpose is to handle box deployments on the VM or service. It executes event scripts and runs lifecycle operations from the web or API calls. By itself the agent does not contain any other logic. It executes whatever Cloud Application Manager tells it to do and sends back the logs of the output.

Agent Architecture

We built the agent based on three important principles of software architecture:

  • To be platform interoperable, that is, work on any OS or platform.
  • To be network interoperable, that is, communicate over any network configuration easily.
  • To cover a small footprint, that is, consume the least amount of machine resources.

Platform interoperability is pretty important. The agent works across all platforms on any OS and runtime libraries. It works cross-platform because it’s written in Python, and doesn’t require any dependencies.

Agent Enhancements

In recent times, we made...

Read on...

Semantic Versioning and Auto Updates: Your Backbone to Innovate

March 19, 2015
By

Versioning

Versioning is a critical part of software development. It gains in importance as team sizes and complexity of projects scale. Tools like Perforce, Subversion, GitHub, which attracts the most users, address this challenge. Imagine the challenge of managing version control for software automation. In the soon to come release in Cloud Application Manager, we addressed versioning challenges in a big way.

Versioning for Deployment Automation

Versioning in the context of application deployment automation is huge. For one, with a solution like Cloud Application Manager, many people in different DevOps roles across an organization need access to a given deployment configuration. As technologies evolve, so must capabilities of the applications and virtual infrastructure. To keep current environments running and stable while you improve and innovate for the future, you need to collaborate, build on top of existing configuration and at the same time preserve the old and the new.

Though features like collaboration in Cloud Application Manager help people participate in creating content, versioning is the built-in capability that helps DevOps users and organizations manage changes smoothly and track what changed, who did what. Versioning systematically controls the chaos of ever changing applications as well as the infrastructure on which they deploy.

Semantics of Versioning

In...

Read on...

Explosive Growth and Rapid Change in Asia-Pacific – Announcing our Cloud in Singapore!

March 18, 2015
By Chris Levanes, Director of Cloud & Managed Hosting, APAC

For the past fifteen years, my professional life has been centered in Asia, with ten of these years as a resident. And throughout this time I have always held strong personal views on the economic potential of the region. However, the current and future growth projections have outpaced my most optimistic predictions and expectations.

Some recent stats from various sources which illustrate the extent of the growth that is occurring, include:

  • Of the current 3+ billion global internet users, more than 46% reside within Asia-Pacific. It is estimated that Asia-Pac will represent more than 50% before the end of 2015.
  • Global e-commerce transactions are currently estimated to be around ~USD $1.5 trillion. In 2014, Asia-Pacific became the world’s largest e-commerce market. By end of 2017, consumers in APAC will be responsible for more than USD $1 trillion of the estimated $2.3 trillion in global e-commerce sales.

Coupled with these growth trends, the region is also experiencing dramatic change. For example, Asia-Pacific is the fastest mobile device growth region in the world, and already accounts for more than 50% of global mobile phone ownership. In fact, many users from Asia-Pacific will connect to the Internet for the first time via a mobile device, and that...

Read on...

Deployment Policies Give Access to Cloud Infrastructure Resources

March 17, 2015
By

Diagram

I’m excited to talk about new features coming soon to Cloud Application Manager. Whether you’re new or have been using Cloud Application Manager for a while to auto-provision infrastructure or speed up automatic deployments, this post will interest you.

In talking to many of our customers, we came across a common theme. While deployment profiles, which spell out all the metadata for a deployment on a particular cloud, are very useful to configure infrastructure, customers want to do more. They want to share deployment profiles and intuitively give access to a well-defined set of provider resources without giving access to the entire cloud provider.

To address these needs, we re-imagined our approach to defining and giving access to deployment metadata. Instead of thinking of them as tightly-coupled attributes of a box (a box is like a template that defines automation for an application or a micro component), we evolved deployment profiles to deployment policy boxes.

Boxes as you know them are now going to be ‘script boxes’. And deploying a script box will follow the same exact flow as deploying a box today. The only difference is at deploy time, you will select a deployment policy box instead of a deployment profile.

PHP

It’s easy...

Read on...

More Than One Way to Do Cloud Bursting

March 10, 2015
By

Cloud Bursting

Cloud Bursting is a hot topic in cloud computing today. It’s a model that gauges an organization’s ability to use internal resources to host services critical to their business, and during demand spikes consume resources from public clouds on a pay-as-you-go approach.

Cloud Bursting Use Cases

Today only a handful of businesses face real cloud bursting challenges because of their special use cases. They run the sort of applications where the burst is high due to compute-intensive processes like image processing, scientific computing, monthly calculations, and such or relate to running the development, test environments. Since the latter typically don’t involve client data, they are not subject to strict regulatory compliance, which means you can run them on any infrastructure.

Support Model

To support a strong cloud bursting model, several parts must come together:

  • Shared network between the public clouds and the datacenter.
  • Automated and repeatable deployments to launch to the required clouds regardless of platform differences.
  • Single management console to consistently support and maintain all deployment artifacts.
  • Ability to specify the amount, ratio, and priority of cloud resources the applications can consume.
  • Ability to identify the load needs of an application and configure them into the tools that manage scaling.

Most cloud providers offer the first piece today, either...

Read on...

Take Control! Channel Partners and Enterprise Customers Can Make Our Cloud Their Own

March 6, 2015
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management

Like most people, I have a mobile phone that is representative of my personality and productivity needs. Carefully chosen phone cases, background images, apps, and settings all create a level of personalization within the boundaries defined by my phone provider. My phone is basically a platform for delivering what I want, how I want it. Why can't your cloud behave the same way?

CenturyLink Cloud has offered a deep set of channel-friendly features for years. This month, we went even further to make sure that all our customers have greater control over their cloud experience. What does it mean to make our cloud your own?

Control the Appearance

Change how the CenturyLink Cloud Control Portal looks to your customers and users. Alter not only the color scheme and logos, but go deeper with modifications to listed support phone numbers, email addresses, and Knowledge Base links. Tweak the outbound email templates so that new users get a personalized message when they join the account.

Control the Access Point

With this latest software release, it's easy to use a non-CenturyLink branded domain to access the Control Portal. All customers can immediately use {account alias}.cloudportal.io to see a personalized login page with their logo. Soon, we'll make it...

Read on...

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...

Read on...

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...

Read on...

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...

Read on...

Stay on Top of Scheduled Instances with Notifications

February 24, 2015
By

Scheduler Notification

I bet you save on deployment costs today with the Instance Scheduler. But did you know you can keep track of when they expire?

A couple of months ago, we introduced the Instance Scheduler that lets you set custom shutdown and termination policies in Cloud Application Manager when launching an instance. This type of scheduling is great to test a new deployment configuration or to spin up a test or development environment for a limited timespan.

Scheduling is an effective way to control and manage resources and costs within an organization. However, there’s still a nagging question. How to know when the instances you’re working on will shut down or terminate? As a developer or operations engineer, I’d like to be notified some time before the scheduled instances that I have access to go offline or get decommissioned. Especially if I don’t have control over them, I need to ask the instance owner for more time, or prioritize work that requires those instances.

Email Notification Service

To address this need, Cloud Application Manager added a feature to notify the instance owners or collaborators by email of scheduled instances that are going to expire soon. Each day, around 12 pm UTC (4 am PST), those...

Read on...

All the Storage You Need for Large-Scale Deployments

February 20, 2015
By

Automate Storage

Large-scale deployments are a pain when you think of the many things that can go wrong. That’s why we’re here to ease the pain with deployment automation. I want to focus this post on block storage specifically for EC2 and on how you can set it up in advance to scale automated deployments.

Amazon Web Services provides block devices called Elastic Block Storage (EBS) that range in gigabytes to terabytes in size at a pay-as-you-use cost. This type of storage gives instances far greater storage flexibility. The default volume on an EC2 instance generally assumes the lifespan of the instance, which means the data disappears once the instance does. Volumes, on the other hand, can persist in the after-life of the instance and make the data available for future use. You can take volume snapshots for backup or attach a volume to another instance, for example.

EBS Volume Types

Amazon offers three EBS types: Magnetic, General Purpose (SSD), and Provisioned IOPS (SSD).

  • The Magnetic disk is the default volume of an EC2 instance and the lowest cost option if you don’t need high read performance and are okay with sequential I/O. It’s a good option to store log files (if you don’t use message
...

Read on...


Connect

    Follow us on


Start Your Free Trial

High performance, fast deployment times and intuitive management capabilities that will push your business forward

*We will send a SMS message to verify your account, standard rates apply.