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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PaaS First; IaaS Second: Five Reasons to Select Your PaaS First

April 1, 2014
By Originally Posted On AppFog.com

Are you building your cloud application directly on the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider vs. using a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)? In recent conversations with dozens of cloud application developers I’ve found many developers are still choosing to build their application using services offered by the IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) provider, e.g., Amazon (AWS), Rackspace or other IaaS providers vs. using a PaaS between the application and the infrastructure. In nearly every instance I find the primary reason for selecting an IaaS first was that the development team didn’t fully understand the benefits of a PaaS or didn’t know how to evaluate one.

We recommend to our clients that they select their PaaS first and then select the IaaS provider that best supports their selected PaaS. By developing your application using a PaaS, you can lower the total cost of ownership of your application by 30% or more. With the right PaaS, you also gain the freedom to change cloud infrastructure providers over-time and avoid infrastructure vendor lock-in by making your application portable to any IaaS provider.

We see five primary reasons for using a PaaS:

Reduced Operations Cost – we generally find that 30% or greater of development time can be consumed in DevOps functions. A PaaS will...

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5 Reasons You Will Love this CenturyLink Cloud News (Including a Price Update!)

April 1, 2014
By Jared Wray, CenturyLink Cloud CTO

When CenturyLink acquired Tier 3 in November, our newly integrated cloud team promised customers big things – faster innovation and access to more capabilities, to name a few.  The team has delivered in the first 140 days: new services and an expanded footprint.  Our Cloud SVP Andrew Higginbotham shares the results here by the numbers.

Another benefit?  Scale.  That leads to lower costs, which CenturyLink can pass along to customers.  Today, we’re pleased to announce a major price reduction for CenturyLink Cloud services. 

For our clients, and businesses considering cloud, here’s what you need to know about these changes:

  • The new pricing changes are effective immediately for CenturyLink Cloud CPU, RAM, and block storage.  These drops are dramatic – a typical CenturyLink Cloud VM will cost at least 60% less with the new pricing.  Customers without contracts will see the new pricing effective immediately; customers with contracts will hear from their account team to adjust terms accordingly. 
  • New support bundles.  Until today we have bundled premium support as part of our price offering – a key benefit to organizations formulating their cloud strategy.  But the market has matured.  As such, we are evolving our singular support offering to a strong portfolio of
  • ...

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    Protect workloads with CenturyLink Cloud and Safehaven Disaster Recovery as a Service

    March 10, 2014
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Management

    IT teams spend a good deal of time thinking about disaster recovery – and rightly so.  Unexpected downtime is hugely expensive, from a loss of productivity, to an immediate loss of revenue, to long-term damage to the corporate brand.

    For disaster recovery of virtual machines already in the public cloud, CenturyLink Cloud’s premium storage option offers a simple, elegant option for enterprises.  Just click a button, and you have an RTO of 8 hours, and RPO of 24 hours in the event of a declared disaster.

    What about protecting on-premise VMs?  This is a perfect workload for public clouds like CenturyLink Cloud.  Traditional DR systems are simply too hard to get up and running.  Too often, these products:

  • Take too long to deploy.  Many take months to plan, and then even more time to deploy.
  • Add cost and complexity.  Enterprises often need to bring in consultants or additional resources to manage the effort.
  • Increase CapEx. New hardware usually needs to be purchased and managed accordingly.
  • Require burdensome testing procedures.  Once a DR solution is deployed, users are often forced to navigate long, labor intensive lead times to conduct DR tests throughout the year.
  • To help customers protect on-premise VMs, we’re excited to launch Safehaven for CenturyLink Cloud. ...

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    Heartbleed Vulnerability Update

    March 9, 2014
    By Richard Seroter, Head of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

    A dangerous bug was identified in a popular SSL/TLS library that powers many of the web servers in the internet. This bug – called Heartbleed – allows attackers to retrieve data stored in a server’s memory and access sensitive information.

    CenturyLink Cloud wants you to be aware of one impacted area which was identified through our comprehensive assessment: OpenVPN software. The Linux distribution used for OpenVPN does not yet have an updated, patched package available to remediate this vulnerability. We are actively pursuing other solutions and will have an update on this issue shortly. [Please see update and action items below]

    As this issue is related to OpenVPN client software, we believe it is important to detail what type of communication between users/machines may be affected by this vulnerability.

      Control Portal system is *NOT affected, so there is no need to change your password to the web site.

      Site to site VPN tunnels from customer premise equipment to CenturyLink Cloud datacenters are *NOT affected.

      Site to site VPN tunnels between customer servers in a particular CenturyLink Cloud data center to other customer servers in a remote CenturyLink Cloud  data center are *NOT affected.

      Software...

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    Our First 140 Days as CenturyLink Cloud

    March 7, 2014
    By Richard Seroter, Head of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

    Recent history has shown that after a cloud provider is acquired, the pace of innovation slows and there’s a loss of focus (and staff). If you don’t believe me, check out the release notes (if you can find them!) of some recently acquired cloud companies. It’s not pretty. I’m here to say that we’re different.

    140 days ago, the acquisition of Tier 3 by CenturyLink was described as a "transformational deal for the industry." Instead of randomizing Engineering post-acquisition with unnecessary process, and haphazard integrations with legacy and redundant products, we’ve actually accelerated pace of development on our go-forward platform, CenturyLink Cloud. In the past four months, we’ve maintained our software release cadence, grown our team, expanded our data center footprint, actively integrated with our parent company, and solidified a game-changing vision that has retained and attracted a phenomenal set of customers.

    We update our cloud platform every month with new, meaningful capabilities. Only a very small subset of cloud providers can make that claim. In the past 140 days, we’ve shipped over 1,200 features, enhancements, and fixes. This includes a new high performance server class, faster virtual machine provisioning, new reseller services, a major user interface redesign, a compelling monitoring/alerting service,...

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    New Cloud Nodes Online in Santa Clara & Sterling – An Important Milestone for CenturyLink Cloud

    March 2, 2014
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Marketing, CenturyLink Cloud

    The CenturyLink Cloud team has brought two new data centers online.  Customers can now deploy virtual resources in Santa Clara, CA (UC1) and Sterling, VA (VA1) sites.  This brings our total count of federated data centers to 11 - six in the US, two in Canada, two in the UK, and one in mainland Europe.  Expect more investment in this footprint in the months to come.

    There is something special about these new sites, our first new locations since the acquisition.

    When CenturyLink acquired Tier 3, it was a big investment for the parent company.

    The message to the market was clear: Cloud is CenturyLink’s growth engine for the future.  We’re investing in a cloud-first platform that can solve enterprise IT jobs better than any other provider.

    How do we solve them better?

    By offering a superior breadth of managed services and infrastructure…with unmatched integration between products.

    These new locations are a major milestone towards this vision.  Three reasons why:

  • Location & scale.  These are the largest CenturyLink Cloud data centers to date.  CenturyLink’s customer base is massive, and our new stack reflects the pent-up demand for public cloud.  Global scale for the enterprise is in our DNA; this is simply the latest example of our
  • ...

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    Introducing ElasticLINQ:  Making Elasticsearch queries easy with the power of LINQ

    February 17, 2014
    By Jim Newkirk, VP of Cloud Development

    CenturyLink the Cloud Development Center contributes ElasticLINQ to the community

    Today I’m pleased to announce that the developers of the CenturyLink Cloud Development Center are contributing ElasticLINQ to the community. ElasticLINQ is a tool for those who wish to find and retrieve documents from Elasticsearch and easily convert those documents into .NET classes.

    ElasticLINQ will help developers ease the transition from relational databases to distributed NoSQL systems. Using the same query language for SQL and NoSQL makes the transition simpler. This code was created by .NET devs for .NET devs and today we’ve made it available on GitHub under the Apache 2 license.

    Who might use it? Any company looking to write for or port software into a distributed cloud environment could benefit from these technologies.  A typical use case is devs who are using Elasticsearch as a full-featured search system for an existing NoSQL database (such as a document storage system like Couchbase).  They will use ElasticLINQ to give them LINQ syntax to query documents stored in Elasticsearch.

    This is a familiar use case for our CenturyLink Cloud engineering team here in Seattle.  ElasticLINQ was one of the outputs of our efforts to transition from MS SQL Server. Our team uses Couchbase and...

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    New Virtual Server Alert Service: Simple, Reliable, and Visible

    February 7, 2014
    By Richard Seroter, Head of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

    Elasticity and quick provisioning are hallmarks of any good cloud platform. Cloud customers have gotten used to rapidly acquiring right-sized resources that fit a given workload. CenturyLink Cloud User Interface No longer do developers have to build the biggest (physical) server possible just to avoid requests to resize later on. Rather, provision for what you need now, and adjust the capacity as the usage dictates. But how do you know when it’s time to size up?

    The CenturyLink Cloud engineering team just released a monitoring and alert service (alongside our powerful server UI redesign) that gives you the data you need! We designed this feature with three things in mind:

     1. Offer a simple, straightforward toolset that users can understand and take advantage of quickly.

     2. Deliver reliable, accurate statistics that reflect the current state of a server.

     3. Provide multiple ways to identify that an alert was fired.

    Together, these three principles kept us focused on delivering a service that met market need. Let’s take a look at how the new monitoring and alert service applies each principles.

    Simple Setup

    It’s easy to get lost in a sea of rarely-used options offered by a monitoring platform. Instead, we focused on ease of setup, a common theme...

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    On Hyperscale, and the Shift to NoSQL Systems

    January 26, 2014
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Marketing, CenturyLink Cloud

    Today, we announced the availability of Hyperscale instances, a new service that combines our high-end compute with 100% flash storage.  Before we jump into how customers can use the service, let’s take a minute to think about the characteristics of applications and architectures deployed today. 

    Here are 5 key attributes we’ve noticed:

  • Large volumes of data ingested in real-time.  Customers and partners collaborating together; lots of machine-to-machine data as well.
  • Global reach.  Startups in a garage can be global in an instant.
  • Mobile focus (often exclusively).  Low latency and a responsive user experience is crucial.
  • Highly distributed.  No single points of failure or ‘master’ node controlling other components.
  • Low cost of failure.  Open source technologies without seven-figure contracts, minimal capital expense from hardware, if any.
  • Now, think about most applications running in enterprise data centers.  In all 5 cases, it’s almost the exact opposite.

    That’s NoSQL vs. relational databases in a nutshell.  The folks at MongoDB sum it up pretty well:

    If you’re a CIO, it’s simple.  The more relational systems you have, the slower you can respond to the market.  Relational databases will always have their place.  But most of the innovation happening in the next 5 years will be on NoSQL platforms.

    Of course, the public cloud is...

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    The Six Commandments of Achieving Isolation in a Multi-Tenant (Cloud) Environment

    January 20, 2014
    By Richard Seroter, Head of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

    Multitenancy – the concept of using a single (software) platform to serve multiple customers – is a key aspect of nearly every cloud computing platform. Pooling resources results in lower costs for all parties, greater efficiencies, and faster innovation for customers. Are there risks and tradeoffs with this model? Sure, but every technology paradigm has them.

     In this blog post, we’ll look at some core principles for successful multitenancy, see how the CenturyLink Cloud provides tenant isolation, and review the ways that CenturyLink Cloud customers create isolation within their own account. The goal is to simply help customers understand what to look for when assessing multi-tenant environments to run their workloads, SaaS applications, and more.

    Core Principles

    Any service provider delivering a multi-tenant environment must adhere to these six commandments:

     1. Thou shalt isolate tenants within their own network. This one applies mainly to infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers who promise secure computing environments. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) customers on a platform like Salesforce.com don’t have this issue as customers do not have access to low level network traffic. When granting virtual machine access to users, the service provider has to ensure that there’s no opportunity to intercept network traffic from other customers.

     2. Thou shalt not...

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    Better Together: Bosh and Cloud Foundry on CenturyLink Cloud

    January 7, 2014
    By Jared Wray, CTO. Find Jared on Twitter.

    We’re big fans of Cloud Foundry, open-source platform as a service.  Why?  Two reasons: the level of abstraction it offers enterprise developers, and the portability across cloud providers. This combination means faster development and deployment of multi-language web applications.  And Cloud Foundry is backed by a thriving ecosystem of hosting providers.

    It’s our goal to make the CenturyLink Cloud the cloud of choice for enterprise developers interested in Cloud Foundry.  To that end, we’re excited to announce an important milestone.

    Today, we’re pleased to announce the beta availability of BOSH on the CenturyLink Cloud.

    BOSH is a crucial tool for deploying and managing Cloud Foundry at scale. It is supported on AWS, OpenStack, and vSphere and vCloud Director – and now CenturyLink Cloud.

    Getting started with BOSH on the CenturyLink Cloud is easy - just set up a Micro-BOSH server configured for CenturyLink Cloud, then use the standard BOSH command line tools!  Check out how to get started here. Support is based on the BOSH July 2013 snapshot and is Ubuntu only.

    We are confident enterprises and devs will like the “better together” combination of BOSH, Cloud Foundry and CenturyLink Cloud.  Here are five reasons why:

  • Supports everything you love about BOSH and Cloud Foundry. 
  • ...

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