Best Practices for Accelerating Your Enterprise Cloud Strategy

June 2, 2013
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager

Last week, CenturyLink Cloud led a webinar focused on helping organizations kick-start their cloud efforts. While the cloud makes a lot of sense for organizations of all sizes, it can be daunting to get started with such a disruptive initiative. No doubt that most CIOs have heard horror stories about failed cloud initiatives, so how do they avoid becoming a statistic? CenturyLink Cloud offered five best practices to help companies take a successful plunge into the cloud.

#1 - Form a “tiger team” to achieve quick wins and pursue IT-as-a-Service

What’s a “tiger team”? I liked this description of its military background and applicability to IT:

“When the Navy needed some quick turnaround work or repairs, they would assemble a tiger team,” Ballard said. “The connotation was that it was a self-contained team that included all the skill sets and resources needed to do the work — journeymen, planners, engineers, fabricators, etc.”

 “A tiger team was a small hand-picked, particularly skilled and capable group of ‘tigers,’ often chosen and chartered by a commanding officer, to plan for and/or achieve a very specific mission,” Lehman said.

The good news - you probably do this in your organization today when new, major initiatives come up and big...

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Highly-Available, Region-Specific, Elastic Storage – “Out of the Box”

May 19, 2013
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

We generate massive amounts of data every day. Research firm IDC estimates that 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years, and the volume of data worldwide doubles every two years. Enterprises are a key contributor to this data explosion as we produce and share digital media, create global systems that collect and generate data, and retain an increasing number of backup and archive data sets. This rapid storage growth puts pressure on IT budgets and staff who have to constantly find and allocate more usable space. CenturyLink Cloud wants to help make that easier and just launched a new Object Storage service to provide you a secure, scalable destination for business data.

What is Object Storage from CenturyLink Cloud? It’s a geo-redundant, elastic storage system for public and private digital data. Based on the innovative Riak CS Enterprise platform, Object Storage infrastructure is being deployed across three global regions: Canada, United States, and Europe. Each region consists of a pair of CenturyLink Cloud data centers that run Riak CS Enterprise on powerful, bare-metal servers. The Object Storage nodes are deployed in a “ring” configuration where data is evenly distributed across the nodes, thus assuring that your...

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CMDBs and the Cloud: APIs will Keep Us Together

May 13, 2013
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

While the cloud has become a welcome channel for companies refining their server footprint, it’s still rare to find an established business that is running solely in the cloud. Rather, many companies leverage the cloud for specific workloads and new cloud-first applications, while keeping other servers and applications in-house. But are you tracking your cloud servers the same way you track on-premises ones? Do you have a single place to see a list of ALL your servers and when they last changed? Configuration management databases (CMDBs) are a popular way to store information about IT assets such as who owns them, where they physically are, and their change history. How can you take advantage of the cloud while retaining a complete, up-to-date CMDB? One option is to programmatically link cloud servers to your CMDB through the use of cloud APIs. In this blog post, we’ll see an example of that process in action.


Step 1: Link Cloud Servers to CMDB Entries

Let us first consider the “IT-as-a-Service” scenario where an internal customer portal serves as the launching pad for new cloud servers. Using the CenturyLink Cloud API, customers can easily provision and manage their cloud servers without ever logging into our Control...

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Look Beyond the Sticker Price: What It REALLY Costs to Run a Cloud App

April 30, 2013
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

Companies embrace the cloud because it offers agility, speed to market, self-service, rapid innovation, and yes, cost savings. There are plenty of cases where organizations can save money by using cloud resources, but it’s easy to focus on vendor compute and storage pricing, and forget about all the other financial components of a cloud application. See Joe Weinman’s Cloudonomics for an excellent analysis of how to assess the economic impact of using the cloud. An application can very easily cost MORE in the cloud – but that might still be just fine, since it helps the business shed some CapEx and remove servers from corporate data centers. In this post, we’ll talk about the full scope of pricing cloud applications and give you a useful perspective for assessing the overall cost.

Example application

Businesses deploy applications, not servers. A typical application is comprised of multiple servers that perform different roles. For instance, let’s consider an existing, commercial website that receives a healthy amount of traffic. It uses a load balancer to route traffic to one of multiple web servers, leverages a series of application servers for caching and business services, and uses a relational database for persistent storage.

n-tier web application

To maximize revenue and customer...

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The 8 Steps to Offer Your Own Branded Enterprise Cloud

April 16, 2013
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

Are you an MSP, VAR, or systems integrator? Do you want to start offering cloud services to upsell existing customers, while attracting new ones? CenturyLink Cloud is here to help. Last week, we announced a Reseller Edition of our cloud and we offer unique expertise in partnering with companies that want to quickly add cloud services to their product portfolio. In this blog post, we’ll walk through 8 quick steps to follow in order to get up and running as a cloud reseller.

1. Investigate the market and select a reseller.

We recently did a reseller-focused webcast with the folks at Talkin’ Cloud and a spot survey showed that over 75% of attendees were actively looking for a cloud partner. Clearly, a large number of telcos, SIs, and regional service providers are scouring the market and aggressively assessing whom to partner with.

If you are looking for a partner, what should you be asking each vendor? How can you ensure you are partnering with an innovative, differentiated provider that can bring you new revenue over the long-haul? Here’s a great starting point:

Does the provider have a global set of data centers?

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: Your customers are more global than ever,...

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Codenvy Cloud IDE Now Directly Supports CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service PaaS

April 6, 2013
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

Just a couple weeks ago, we looked at how Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) helps developers rapidly build and deploy applications to the cloud. We also covered a new breed of cloud-based development environments (IDE) that developers can use to create and publish their web applications. Since then, the cloud-based IDE we featured – called Codenvy – has updated their product to support the CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service. In this post, we’ll walk through how to quickly and easily deploy and manage Platform as a Service applications from your web browser.

To start with, when users of Codenvy start a new web application project, they are asked which technology they want to use, and then which PaaS to deploy to. At this moment, the CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service is available for Java Web Application (WAR), Java Spring, and Ruby on Rails projects. Note that Platform as a Service works with more environments than these three, but these are the technologies supported via Codenvy.

Codenvy Cloud IDE

Once the user chooses the technology and corresponding PaaS, they choose a simple project template (if one exists for that technology), and are then asked for the management API endpoint of the Platform as a Service environment.

Codenvy Cloud IDE

The project...

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Quite possibly the best Rails tutorial in existence

April 4, 2013
By Originally Published On AppFog

One of the best things about learning Rails has been the community. It’s amazing to see how many great tutorials and guides and forms of documentation have been created out there for beginners, even absolute beginners (as I very, very recently was).

The guides section of the Ruby on Rails website itself was, of course, very helpful in walking me step by step through installing rails and walking me through the various files and folders associated with the directory of any Rails app. I highly recommend it. And this video from Jeffrey Way is the best resource I’ve found so far for making the jump from just feeling your way around Rails into actually doing something with it (a chasm that I’m hoping to cross very soon).

But the very best thing that I’ve found so far, which will be useful for both beginners and those entering a more intermediate phase, is Michael Hartl’s t tutorial on What makes this tutorial stand out for me is its thoroughness. Plenty of tutorials walk you through step by step, but Hartl’s tutorial deals with a variety of crucial issues from the very get-go, including writing your own tests and specs to a discussion of...

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Find Cloud Resources Faster with CenturyLink Cloud’s New Global Search

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

Customer-driven innovation is baked into our company’s DNA. We’re always looking for ways to help customers create and manage enterprise-class environments on our platform.

One thing they’ve told us in recent months is that they want to be able to quickly find all of the diverse resources they’ve created in the CenturyLink Cloud cloud. We heard that request loud and clear and just released Global Search which is a unique capability that dramatically improves your user experience.

What is Global Search? It’s a platform-wide utility that lets you search for accounts, users, servers, Groups, networks, cloud orchestration Blueprints, Blueprint packages, and IP addresses – all from a single search box that is always displayed at the top of each page in our Control Portal.

Global Search

The IT Professional Scenario

This powerful feature works with partial matches, which means that you can type a word like “Exchange” and get back any CenturyLink Cloud resource in your account hierarchy that is related to a Microsoft Exchange mail server. Below, see that this particular search returned some servers that are running Exchange Server, groups residing in different data centers, an account with the word “Exchange” in the description field, and a Blueprint.

Our design team studied the best search...

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Enterprise Cloud Monitoring, Made Simple

April 1, 2013
By Shantu Roy, Senior Product Manager

In the coming months, CenturyLink Cloud will launch new, enterprise monitoring capabilities, powered by ScienceLogic and New Relic.  We wrote a guest blog post for ScienceLogic, describing our approach to monitoring, check it out here.


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It’s Hard to be Number One

April 1, 2013
By Originally Posted On AppFog

Now that PaaS has become the hot topic in the Cloud – and now that Enterprise customers are starting to sign those 9 figure contracts for PaaS providers – we’re starting to see the sort of negative marketing that has long been the trademark of Enterprise Software. This is sad, but inevitable. At present the negative marketing seems to largely be targeted at the leaders in the space and seems to largely consist of FUD.

While normally we would simply ignore this kind of thing – a recent post on the Apprenda blog about Cloud Foundry does, in our opinion, require a response. We have been partners with VMware and Cloud Foundry from early in Cloud Foundry’s existence. We are big fans of Cloud Foundry and AppFog is built to support Cloud Foundry. As such we are a part of the ecosystem that Sinclair talks about. Given his basic thesis, we should be worried sick about VMware and should be fighting to find different alternatives.

Nothing is further from the truth.

FUD: What VMware is doing with Cloud Foundry will collapse the ecosystem!

In looking at the post, the entire thesis is that “more cloud” is a bad thing and that by helping enterprises...

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Everybody Loves PaaS; PaaS is Failing

April 1, 2013
By Originally Published On AppFog

In the beginning, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) was created for developers, not for enterprises. Developers could deploy and test applications within minutes, not days, weeks or months. PaaS enabled developers to sidestep the need to invest in a platform of their own (or mess with jumping the IT queue). And Developers found it good. Agility and velocity became the primary drivers for moving workloads off-premise and into public clouds. As a result, PaaS rapidly became the preferred platform for cutting-edge startups and ambitious developers within small and large organizations.

Low introductory prices made it easy for developers and executives to adopt PaaS as their platform; and everyone enthusiastically embraced the agility and velocity they realized through PaaS. Even corporate IT executives saw the upside of PaaS: faster application development reflects well on them. But they saw a downside, too, especially as business units went off the reservation for PaaS suppliers. The lack of central control complicated management of corporate system and created potentially serious liabilities because the integration points were unclear and complicated. The first PaaS providers ignored all of these concerns, even claiming that incumbent systems “didn’t exist” because they weren’t focused on enterprises.

But these days, early PaaS success is making the...

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The Simplest Way to Build and Deploy Web Applications to the Cloud? Use PaaS and Cloud IDEs!

March 17, 2013
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

Web applications are a dominant part of most enterprise IT portfolios and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) products offer a compelling way to easily deploy and manage these applications. However, PaaS have proven tricky for vendors to explain, and therefore difficult for customers to understand. In this post, we’ll discuss the reason you should consider using PaaS products, what CenturyLink Cloud has to offer, and how you can deploy a web application to a PaaS in a matter of minutes.

Benefits of PaaS

What exactly is PaaS? Basically, it’s a way of delivering an application platform as a service. Developers don’t interface directly with infrastructure (e.g. servers, networks, load balancers) but rather, focus on building and deployment applications through a set of exposed services in a managed fabric. PaaS simplifies the deployment and management of modern web applications while making those applications more resilient and functional. How can PaaS add value to your organization? Let’s drill into some specifics:

  *Reduce server sprawl with a centralized host for web applications. How many web servers are sitting relatively idle in your data center because they are only running a handful of applications? Server sprawl can be a major issue as each IT project requisitions its...

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