Calling All AWS CloudFormation Power Users

October 13, 2014
By

AWS CloudFormation is a very useful deployment mechanism provided by AWS and fully supported by Cloud Application Manager. We’ve recently made some changes to our product and one of the results is a very interesting AWS CloudFormation use case – splitting up gigantic and monolithic AWS CloudFormation templates into smaller, more manageable templates.

First, A Little Background

AWS CloudFormation is essentially a way to programmatically define and provision cloud infrastructure, via a JSON template. CloudFormation templates can be used for tasks such as setting up VPCs, creating autoscaling groups and launching EC2 instances into different network configurations.

Several enterprises are using CloudFormation templates to deploy increasingly complex infrastructure configurations. As a result, power users are rapidly discovering that their templates have become large, monolithic and extremely difficult to maintain.

Why Not Just Split Them Up?

In theory, splitting up a monolithic CloudFormation template into a set of smaller, manageable modules seems straightforward, but there are a few challenges.

  • Since these modules contribute to a larger, overarching infrastructure deployment, users need a way to specify dependencies and ensure that the modules are deployed in the right order.
  • These modules need a way to communicate with each other and share information such that one can take over where the
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CenturyLink Cloud and Open Source

September 27, 2014
By Jared Ruckle, Senior Product Manager. Find Jared on Twitter

On the heels of the opening of Cloud Development Center, it seems timely to revisit one of our founding beliefs: the embrace of, and contribution to, open source technologies.

We have seen open-source win in the enterprise again and again - especially as it relates to cloud computing and new web-scale architectures.  Why?

  • Many developers, rather than few publishers.  The creativity of the masses is fundamental to open source; with a diverse set of creators, a diverse set of technologies is the result.  Some of them are bound to stick.
  • No “innovators dilemma.”  While traditional vendors are focused on existing revenue streams, new players and individual developers are free to experiment without cannibalizing an existing product.
  • Low cost of failure.  Developers can download bits, and start experimenting.  If something doesn’t work out, the only loss is time.  With a licensing model, there are usually more complex business terms involved in even trying a new product or tool.
  • New business models focused on usage and support, not licensing.  The companies that have successfully commercialized open source tend monetize “customer success” and “win-win” scenarios instead of a multi-year licensing model that is likely to favor the publisher.
  • More options. Open source doesn’t always mean you are free from
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Can’t Survive Without AWS S3, DynamoDB, and RDS? See How You Can Use Them in Cloud Application Manager

September 25, 2014
By

Configuration

In my last blog post, I talked about how we support AWS EC2, EBS, Elastic IP Address, and ELB. In this post, I’ll cover S3, DynamoDB, and RDS.

S3

S3 or Simple Storage Service is Amazon Web Services’ highly durable data store that can be used as your primary data store and can be accessed from anywhere. In Cloud Application Manager, you can gain access to S3 using the S3 Box that allows users to select a region to deploy and access ports. The S3 Box enables you to provision and return end-points. Endpoints, in conjunction with the port, can be used by other applications to read/write data into S3.

S3 is one of Amazon’s most popular services. Cloud Application Manager’s own appliance OVF is stored in an S3 bucket.

DynamoDB

DynamoDB is a NoSQL Database that is deployed automatically in AWS. It is cost effective and reliable with single-digit millisecond latency making it a great fit for gaming, ad tech, mobile and many other applications.

Like S3, Cloud Application Manager supports a DynamoDB Box that you can add to your application stack. When ready to deploy, you can select parameters such as the region, port, and read/write capacity in the Deployment Profile.

New Instance

Cloud Application Manager also enables...

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CenturyLink Expanding our Cloud Managed Services to the UK

September 21, 2014
By [email protected], or follow me: @jimbattenberg

Today we are pleased to announce one-click access to cloud-based managed services on the CenturyLink Cloud in the UK.

CenturyLink Cloud managed services provide automated provisioning of operating systems and applications – check the box when you need them, uncheck when you don’t – all billed hourly.  When paired with our easy-to-use cloud infrastructure, you get up and running quickly with the peace of mind you need from managed apps and operating systems.

Now customers in the UK or global customers using UK nodes can mix and match cloud-based managed services, public and private cloud, and even colocation – all under one roof. This suits enterprises who want to embrace hybrid IT as part of their cloud journey, as well as those who just want to leave legacy applications where they are for the time being, but have access to the flexibility of cloud infrastructure when they need it.

With this launch, customers can take advantage of the following services from our Slough data center: Windows and Red Hat Enterprise Linux managed operating systems, as well as managed applications Active Directory, Apache HTTP Server, Apache Tomcat, Microsoft Internet Information Services, Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL.

And, if you want even more assistance, our cloud...

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Cloud Application Manager Support for AWS EC2, EBS, ELB, and IP Addresses

September 17, 2014
By

Cloud Application Manager supports delivery of applications on a number of private and public clouds including AWS, GCE, Azure, VMware, CloudStack, OpenStack, and HP Cloud. Just supporting compute, however, is not unique. Several players in the market support compute. What’s great about Cloud Application Manager is that it also gives you access to a large number of cloud provider-specific services such EBS, Route 53, SQL Services, App Engine, etc.

Why Cloud Provider-Specific Services?

Every cloud offers a unique set of services that are targeted to certain use cases and integrate really well with other services provided by that particular cloud provider. It would be a shame if you couldn’t access these innovative services in combination with cloud and application management platforms.

Some great examples and use cases of these integrations include:

  • AWS EC2 integration with EBS, Elastic IP Address, and ELB

  • AWS Route 53 support for adding new domains that can be bought on AWS

  • Azure integration of Visual Studio, Cloud Services, Websites, and SQL Services

  • GCE integration of Compute Engine, App Engine, and Big Query for Google Projects

  • Support for cloud provider specific services poses a risk as well. Cloud providers (read, AWS) are constantly adding new services. How do we support them while still focusing on...

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    Introducing the Next Version of the Admin Console

    September 11, 2014
    By

    Over the past few months, we have added great features such as Expanded Collaboration and Lifecycle Editor to make it easier than ever for Developers and Operations to work together in small teams, on large projects, and across large organizations. As Cloud Application Manager is empowering bigger and bigger teams at larger and larger companies to freely deploy their business critical applications and consume infrastructure, IT teams increasingly want to gain visibility, control, and insights on how Cloud Application Manager is being used within their organization.

    That is why, today, we are launching a brand new version of the Cloud Application Manager Administration Console. It comes loaded with improvements and new features that enable IT to set up, manage, and support their users and organization on Cloud Application Manager.

    Customize and Integrate

    We know it’s important for our enterprise users to reinforce their brand with their employees and to integrate with their existing tools. With the Cloud Application Manager admin console, you will be able to set up your organization in a way that makes sense for your company. You can pick a logo and custom domain, enable signup and login options via email, Google/GitHub authentication, or integrate with your LDAP.

    You can...

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    CenturyLink Cloud October Release: ‘Execute Package,’ SAML Options & a New UK Data Center

    September 10, 2014
    By Bryan Friedman, Senior Product Manager. Find Bryan on Twitter

    Our latest platform release went live earlier this week. Check out the release notes. As usual, we’re focused on increasing automation, security, and flexibility. Here are a few of the highlights, along with some details that illustrate how users can take advantage of these new capabilities.

    ‘Execute Packages’ - Server Management using Automation

    Cloud computing isn’t just about provisioning servers. You have to administer them too. Ideally, you could administer these servers in bulk, and avoid the pain of one-offs.

    CenturyLink Cloud has several options to help you manage servers in bulk (groups, scheduled tasks, alerts, power operations, and more). But perhaps the most powerful solution available to users? The newly re-factored capability to execute Blueprint packages. With the latest enhancements to the Groups user experience, you can run a script package on any or all of the servers in a Group with just a few clicks.

    CenturyLink Cloud includes several publicly available packages for customers to use. Need to install SQL Server? There’s a package for that. How about Active Directory? There’s a package for that too. Looking for the LAMP stack? Yep, there’s a package for that. You get the idea.

    But best of all, you can create your own custom...

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    DevOps Gets Physical (Office Space)

    September 7, 2014
    By Jared Ruckle, Senior Product Manager. Find Jared on Twitter

    There’s no shortage of DevOps experts these days.  These luminaries are everywhere - blogs, social media, trade shows, you name it.  Most agree that DevOps best practices fall into three categories: People, Process, and Tools.

    You can read all about those in this space, and elsewhere. But once you look past the slideware, the conferences, and the consultants – one question lingers.

    What does DevOps look like in a workplace?

    How do the principles of collaboration, instant feedback, cross-functional teams, and shared objectives actually come together in a physical office?

    As we designed our new CenturyLink Cloud Development Center in Bellevue, a few delegates from the CenturyLink Cloud team had the opportunity to create the perfect environment for DevOps. And, to do it from scratch, with few restrictions.  After all, this Center was one of the major components underpinning CenturyLink’s acquisition of Tier 3 nearly a year ago.

    So what are some of the results?

    Team rooms, organized by function.  The majority of our space is dedicated to “team rooms” – large, open rooms where employees are grouped by workstream (platform team, application services team, service engineering, etc.). As we build new features and push them to production, all the people you need to interact with...

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    Announcing the Cloud Application Manager Virtual Appliance

    September 2, 2014
    By

    Exciting news! We announced the release of our Virtual Appliance free trial at VMworld San Francisco this past week and are kicking things off with an awesome giveaway.

    Download our free Virtual Appliance trial (10 min setup) and you’ll be entered to win one of the new Apple product being released next week (hint: our money is on an iPhone 6).

    To enter, please complete the following steps by Friday, September 12th:

    • Follow the steps to download the appliance.
    • Deploy the Virtual Appliance in your vSphere environment.
    • Setup the Virtual Appliance and create an account!

    Free Trial

    Today, I am extremely excited to announce the general availability of the Cloud Application Manager Virtual Appliance. Cloud Application Manager built a Virtual Appliance to make it easier for you to rapidly deploy applications and provision your private cloud resources without risking security.

    Our engineering team has been working really hard during the weeks leading up to VMworld to create a virtual appliance that is easy to install, easy to upgrade, and gives you access to the full Cloud Application Manager feature set.

    Why the Appliance?

    In short, it’s about giving our customers as much control as they want.

    • You have full control over your data with everything hosted in your private datacenter
    • You control
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    Inside Look at CenturyLink Cloud Development Center

    August 30, 2014
    By Guest post by Joe Kanagusuku, Global Account Manager

    Cloud. It’s a disruptive force. Here in Seattle some may think of it only in terms of weather, but at CenturyLink we know it’s something much greater and its impact on our organization is being felt company wide. It’s been less than a year since CenturyLink acquired Bellevue-based Tier 3 and branded it CenturyLink Cloud. At the time we announced our plans of opening the Cloud Development Center in the Seattle area, saying “Tier 3’s products, roadmap and vision are now the foundation of CenturyLink’s cloud strategy and anchor the new Seattle-based CenturyLink Cloud Development Center.”

    Why Seattle? It turns out Seattle is the center of the cloud universe. Forbes ranked it the best city for tech jobs. We all know that Amazon has an enormous campus in South Lake Union, Microsoft is headquartered in Redmond, but did you know Google’s development center for cloud is based in Seattle and Kirkland? And, since the entire country believes it rains here 24/7, can you think of a more natural place for the Cloud Development Center to be placed?

    Officially opening on October 14th, the CenturyLink Cloud Development Center encompasses almost 30,000 square feet in Bellevue, WA. Beyond its partnership with CenturyLink Field –...

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    Safehaven Run Book Automation – A small change with a big impact

    August 30, 2014
    By Scott Good, Senior Product Manager

    In an earlier post, we discussed SafeHaven for CenturyLink Cloud Disaster Recovery- as-a- Service (DRaaS) solution and the benefits it offers IT Administrators.  As we noted, failing over a multi-tiered application when executing a disaster recovery plan is critical. However, it’s not always as easy as it seems.  In order for a multi-tiered application to recover correctly, the VMs upon which it depends start up according to a prescribed “recovery plan.”  For instance, it is usually necessary for the database to be running before application servers boot and, similarly, necessary that application services be running before webservers boot.

    Safehaven for CenturyLink Cloud’s latest feature enhancement, Run Book Automation, allows end users to configure custom shut-down and bring-up plans for each group of IT systems that received disaster protection.  For example, delivering web services often involves a set of interdependent workloads that need to start in a specific order and taking into account time intervals between applications.

    For each group of IT systems within the CenturyLink Cloud, users can pre-configure and test recovery plans in the Safehaven Console that identifies bring-up and shut-down order, actions, delays, as well as any custom script to be executed as part of the recovery operation. ...

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    Using AWS CloudFormation in Cloud Application Manager

    August 28, 2014
    By

    CloudFormation

    Recently, we have been experimenting with ways to support all the APIs and services that cloud providers like Amazon offer, such as CloudFormation. As I mentioned before in a blog post, cloud providers bring innovation to market in the form of infrastructure APIs

    CloudFormation Service Box

    Today, Cloud Application Manager announces support for Amazon CloudFormation with the CloudFormation service box, which lets you use a template to quickly launch any Amazon service as a single stack or unit. With this new box service that has API support, you can consume all of Amazon’s services and capabilities. As IT operations, you can configure infrastructure that developers can directly consume.

    Cloud Application Manager provides tools that enable your organization to exploit the full potential of Cloud computing. With CloudFormation support, IT operations can collaborate with developers at an unprecedented level of flexibility within the same product.

    At Cloud Application Manager, we believe that being agile–being able to adapt to changes and adopt innovation is the new tenet of IT operations stability. We are committed to build the tools to resolve the complexities of software and cloud operations, be they straight or curved.

    Features

    Integrated CloudFormation Application Deployment

    With Cloud Application Manager, the instantiation of Cloud Formation and the deployment...

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