Five Ways To Enhance IT Ops With CenturyLink Cloud

November 12, 2013
By Jared Ruckle, Product Marketing, CenturyLink Cloud

Today at Dell World, Dell announced that CenturyLink has joined the Dell Cloud Partner Program.

So what does this news mean for Dell customers?  Simple: you now have easy access to a high performance, highly resilient public cloud, with extensive self-service capabilities.  And you will be supported by Dell and the CenturyLink Cloud team every step of the way.

autoscale

Here are five key benefits you can take advantage of immediately on this platform:

  • Deploy on virtual servers with resiliency and redundancy.  When it comes to public cloud, you hear the phrase ‘build for failure.’  That’s a critical design pattern for cloud-native applications.  But many of the apps running in your data center today – including many that are candidates to move to the public cloud – are designed with reliable infrastructure in mind.  Dell Cloud On Demand with CenturyLink offers built-in resiliency and redundancy, so many of your legacy apps – homegrown, from boutique ISVs, or Microsoft – will run smoothly ‘out of the box’ on CenturyLink Cloud.
  • Simplify DR and backups.  These tedious activities should be immediately automated.  Savvy IT departments – and those that will thrive in the future as a strategic enabler of the business – are already on this
  • ...

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    Cloud Services: Build, Buy, or Partner? Dell Chooses ‘Partner’ and So Should You

    November 12, 2013
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Marketing

    Today, Dell chose CenturyLink Cloud for their partner program due to our cloud’s extensive reseller capabilities.  These features, first launched as Tier 3’s Reseller Edition, include account management, APIs, SSO via SAML, extensive re-branding and more (details here and here). CenturyLink’s approach to reseller enablement gives Dell a completely rebranded public cloud offering overnight – no engineering required on their side.

    This is big news for us, and we’re excited to be working with Dell.

    Now, let’s explore this idea of partnerships for public cloud a little more.

    Developers and IT increasingly turn to new-school cloud vendors for their infrastructure.  Common sense on the eve of 2014.  But this shift was not anticipated by most SIs, MSPs, and hardware OEMs 5 years ago.

    How have these vendors responded?  The results are mixed.  Many are still refining their cloud strategy, and wrestling with the build, buy, partner calculus.

    The industry isn’t sitting still – far from it.  But there’s plenty of time for vendors who missed out on the first wave of cloud to capitalize on the second wave.  But as CenturyLink CTO Jared Wray recently wrote, building cloud is hard.  It takes a specific set of engineering skills that are in high demand.

    Consequently, we’re seeing...

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    2013 Cloud Predictions: How Did We Do?

    November 10, 2013
    By Richard Seroter, Head of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

    Last year, we made 12 predictions about what would happen in the cloud space in 2013. As the year comes to a close, it’s only fair for us to assess our hits and misses to see how well we did.

    Recap and Scorecard

    PREDICTION #1: 2013 will be the year of cloud management software.

    REALITY: Hit. We saw this come true on multiple fronts. First, cloud management providers Enstratius and ServiceMesh were acquired by Dell and CSC, respectively. Tier 3 – known for the sophisticated management software that runs our IaaS – was acquired by CenturyLink. On top of this, Gartner estimates that a new vendor enters the cloud management space every month, and nearly every cloud provider is constantly beefing up their own management offerings. This shows the strategic value of comprehensive management capabilities in a cloud portfolio. Customer adoption of these platforms is also on the rise and Gartner sees 60% of Global 2000 enterprises using cloud management technology (up from 30% in 2013).

     

    PREDICTION #2: While the largest cloud providers duke it out on price and scale, smaller cloud providers see that enterprise adoption really depends on tight integration with existing tools and processes.

    REALITY: Mixed. Of course, cloud prices definitely...

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    A Personal Message from Tier 3’s Jared Wray

    October 19, 2013
    By Jared Wray, CTO. Find Jared on Twitter.

    Tier 3 has joined CenturyLink.  We are going to build amazing things together.

    But let’s look back before we look ahead.

    Many people contributed to the success of Tier 3.  Developers launched feature after feature, while network engineers supported customers day and night.  A passion for problem solving fueled their achievements.  A tireless team of marketing, sales, and finance pros helped along the way as well – building our thought leadership campaigns, winning new business, and keeping our back office humming.

    I’d like to thank these talented individuals.  This is the team that built APIs, designed the UX, rolled out new self-service functions, and helped our customers grow.  We’ve worked with lots of great partners too.  Together, we advanced cloud computing.

    Cloud is really, really hard.  Just read the headlines – enterprises and traditional IT vendors are struggling.

    We started Tier 3 to make cloud easier.  We created products, processes, and a culture to help enable cloud for the enterprise.

    And cloud is a littler easier now, thanks to Tier 3’s ecosystem of people and partners.

    This deal would not be possible without Tier 3’s customers.  Their support, their decision to trust a smaller company for their cloud needs, and their feedback on how we could improve...

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    Cloud IaaS Price/Performance Benchmarking – Part 2

    October 18, 2013
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Marketing

    In part one, we highlighted Tier 3’s strong showing in a recent performance benchmarking survey.

    So what to make of reports like this?  Here are 6 observations that might help you, a buyer of cloud services, interpret findings like this.

    Two Things These Reports Can Tell You

    • Quantification of vendor claims & normalization. Vendors will describe their products as “high performance.”  Well, compared to what?  And given that each vendor has a different hypervisor and hardware in their data center – in addition to different instance sizes, or a build to custom specs capability (Tier 3’s approach) – it is hard to gauge clock speeds across providers.  This particular report cuts through that.
    • Each cloud on this list is likely better than another competitor – your internal data center. Every cloud provider on this list is operating at scale, releasing new features often, and supporting a multi-tenant service.  As a result, they are almost certainly delivering better performance than what you have on-premise today.  And due to the expansive self-service offerings some of these providers offer, superior agility relative to your internal data center is a given.  The really interesting – and possibly confusing - thing?  Some of the vendors on this list
    ...

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    Cloud IaaS Price/Performance Benchmarking – Part 1

    October 7, 2013
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Marketing

    It’s difficult for businesses to compare so many diverse players in the cloud.  To make the task a bit easier, the team at Cloud Spectator recently issued a useful report: “IaaS Performance and Value Analysis.”  View it here, registration required to download.

    At CenturyLink Cloud, we’ve always claimed to be a “high performance” cloud (who doesn’t?), so it is nice to see this validated by a third party.  A summary of findings that brought a smile to our faces:

    • #1 “Performance Leader” for overall system results
    • #1 performance leader for Disk and RAM
    • #2 performance leader for CPU and internal networking

    My personal favorite passage:

    UnixBench highlights the significant system performance difference among the top providers in the IaaS industry. The highest and lowest scorers show a difference of 4.7x in system performance; CenturyLink Cloud’s average UnixBench score is 2998, while Amazon EC2’s is 642.

    Results in visual form (image edited to highlight CenturyLink Cloud):

    Cloud Spectator - Results Summary

    There was considerable public chatter about these results, and industry analyst Ben Kepes wondered if these types of reports even matter. Since price/performance is only a single dimension of a cloud’s value, how should a buyer and consumer of cloud services use this type of information?

    In Part 2, we’ll build on his train...

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    Cloud Developers & Resellers Get a Boost from CenturyLink Cloud Webhooks

    October 1, 2013
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    “Getting a little bit of the right information just ahead of when it’s needed is a lot more valuable than all the information in the world a month or a day later.” That quote – found in the book The Two Second Advantage by Vivek Ranadive and Kevin Maney – highlights a new reality where responsiveness can be a competitive advantage. Smart companies are building a responsive IT infrastructure where data isn’t just hoarded in massive repositories, but analyzed quickly and acted upon. How can you know more, faster and have better situational awareness?

    With an increasing amount of critical IT systems running in the cloud, there’s a need to know what’s happening and act on it. This month, CenturyLink Cloud introduced Webhooks, making us among the first public IaaS cloud providers to send real-time notifications to a web service endpoint. For this initial release, customers can set up Webhooks for events within accounts, users, and servers.

    When To Use This?

    Webhooks are relatively new idea, although already used by diverse web properties like Wordpress and Zoho. Let’s look at three different scenarios where CenturyLink Cloud Webhooks can lead to better decisions.

    Scenario #1 – Data Synchronization

    Polling is an inefficient way to retrieve data...

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    Gartner Symposium, The Digital Industrial Economy, and Web-Scale IT

    September 22, 2013
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Marketing

    I went to my first Gartner Symposium last week for a big picture view of the intersection between business and IT. Symposium is billed as “the one show to go to if you only go to one show a year.” As such, my expectations were high.  It did not disappoint.

    Keynote speakers, most notably Peter Sondergaard, in full prophet mode, discussed the disruptive nature of new cloud architectures, the Internet of Things, and 3D printing.  These trends, combined with other socioeconomic factors, would bring about the “Digital Industrial Economy.”

    He then offered this choice to today’s IT executive: either enable your enterprise to thrive in the Digital Industrial Economy, or be relegated to caretaker of legacy systems while other roles lead the transformation.

    The unease in the audience was palpable.  Squirming continued as he discussed a simple graphic on-screen: 90% of CIOs believe they are doing a good job, while 50% of CEOs say they need more from IT.  The keynotes set the tone for the rest of the conference.  Clearly, Gartner is advising clients to do more, and think bigger.

    Our first analyst meeting the next day reinforced this.  The Gartner research team focused on “Web-Scale IT” mentioned that many clients are asking...

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    CenturyLink Cloud Hack House

    September 21, 2013
    By Mai Hoang, Senior Online Marketing Manager.

    Last month, CenturyLink Cloud rented a house in St. George, Utah to provide our engineers time to collaborate – they coded their hands off and had fun while doing so!

    We asked our Sr. Software Engineer, Mr. Matthew Osborn (@osbornm), about his time at the Hack House and what he found most rewarding about the experience. His highlights:

    • Time spent solving problems. Often problems, especially big ones – related to computer science, engineering, or anything for that matter - take hours of work to solve. Having more than the standard 8-hour day to think about and solve these problems is amazingly helpful. Yes it’s a lot of work, and it sucks some of the time, but you can do some truly awesome stuff.
    • Time spent with the team. In a normal setting, you come to work do your job and then go home. You interact with your coworkers on a purely work-related level. Living with these same people changes that dynamic, and you are forced to build relationship that you otherwise would never choose to make. Interacting with folks on not just a work level but on a social level helps you understand their thinking and ultimately can really improve collaboration.
    • Time spent on
    ...

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    CenturyLink Cloud Setting the Bar: Control Portal UI Evolution Under Way

    September 8, 2013
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    In a few weeks, CenturyLink Cloud will roll out the first phase of visual changes to our Control Portal cloud management software. These changes are not only visually stunning, but functionally significant for our customers. Why are we making these changes, and what should you expect? This blog post dives into our motivation for the changes, and provides a sneak peek into what’s coming in the months ahead.

    Why the Change?

    We’ve all heard the saying “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” CenturyLink Cloud constantly receives positive recognition for our Control Portal, and Gartner recently lauded our “easy-to-use self-service portal” that showcases an “excellent, highly differentiated set of features.” Why are we moving forward with some substantial modifications to the user experience? We’re focused on five reasons:

    • Improve Application Performance. Web applications need to be fast to maximize utility, and so too does our Control Portal. We want our users to spend _less time _in our interface, create and manage complex environments, and more time solving strategic business problems. We’re constantly tweaking the current software experience to squeeze out performance improvements, but needed to take a new approach if we wanted to speed up the experience _and achieve new embedded analytics functionality. Our

    ...

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    New horizons in Node.js: App.js and WebRTC

    September 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    It’s hopeless trying to keep up with developments in the Node.js community. Believe me, I’ve tried.

    Once upon a time, I held out hope that I would be able to keep my finger on the pulse of Node-related discourse, but it all turned out to be in vain. New modules are added and updated to npmjs.org on an almost minute-by-minute basis. It’s enough to make your head spin (in a good way, if that makes sense). However, there have been a few big and bold movements in the Node.js space that have caught my attention recently that I think are incredibly promising and that I just couldn’t keep to myself: desktop client creation with App.js and WebRTC.

    Make some room, Qt: App.js is the new kid in town

    Did you ever want to use JavaScript to construct a rich UI experience in a non-browser setting? Well, now is your chance. Did it never even occur to you to try such a thing? Well, that’s okay, too, because I always assumed that I would have to learn C++ to ever accomplish such a thing. But playing around with App.js, which is available as an NPM module, has convinced me that this is a really...

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    Achieving High Availability in the Cloud: Part 1 - Provisioning Storage

    August 23, 2013
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    Does running your application in the cloud mean that it’s suddenly able to survive any problem that arises? Alas, no. Even while some foundational services of distributed systems are built for high availability, a high performing cloud application needs to be explicitly architected for fault-tolerance. In this multi-part blog series, we will walk through the various application layers and example how to build a resilient system in the CenturyLink Cloud cloud. Over the course of the next few posts, we will define what’s needed to build a complete, highly available system. The reference architecture below illustrates the components needed for a fictitious eCommerce web application.

    HA Application Architecture

    In this first post, we look at a core aspect of every software system: storage. What type of storage is typically offered by cloud vendors?

      *Temporary VM storage. Some cloud providers offer gobs of storage with each VM instance, but with the caveat that the storage isn’t durable and does not survive server shutdown or server failure. While this type of cheap and easy accessible block storage is useful in some situations, it’s not as familiar to enterprise IT staff who are used to storage that’s durable by default.

      *Persistent VM storage....

    Read on...


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