Bird’s Eye View of IT as a Service

January 7, 2015
By

ITaaS Diagram

In working closely with large enterprises for several years, we consistently hear businesses talk of IT needs to achieve critical and strategic goals. Commonly these large enterprises span many verticals like technology, online media, finance, banking, and more.

At the heart of their business goals, lie technology hurdles they need to overcome to scale as enterprises of the next decade.

Visualizing IT as a Service

So we captured in this mind map high-level business goals that require a broad set of IT services ranging from infrastructure, applications, management, integration, service provider, and architecture.

ITaaS Thumb

If you look to the left, you see needs centered around applications. These detail all the services required to provision, deploy, and manage applications including application architecture models to design automated deployments and serve all the right infrastructure resources.

On the right, you see needs that revolve around compliance, reporting, and integrating with various service providers to supply virtual infrastructure and a slew of related services to keep the infrastructure running smoothly and reliably.

We find that this visual captures the entire IT-as-a-service industry as a whole and this exercise helps to understand where the customers’ needs are and where in that spectrum we assist them.

See if you can pinpoint the areas where...

Read on...

Create your ElasticSearch Cluster in Four Steps

December 12, 2014
By

ElasticSearch

In this blog post, we show how to install an on any cloud in four easy steps. If you’re new to ElasticSearch, it is a powerful open source search and analytics engine that makes it easy to explore, query, and manipulate big data. It’s built on top of Apache Lucene, a Java search engine library. To process large amounts of data, it helps to configure ElasticSearch as a cluster on which different ElasticSearch nodes process data in parallel.

To install an ElasticSearch cluster on a Linux distribution using Cloud Application Manager, you just need our ElasticSearch box where you can adjust configuration parameters to suit your scenario.

Get to Know Some ElasticSearch Cluster Concepts

First, let’s go over some of the concepts in our cluster configuration:

  • Shard is the Lucene instance that stores each document (data) also known as primary shards.
  • Number of replicas are the number of shards with a copy of the primary shard.
  • Data nodes are those on which ElasticSearch distributes primary and replica shards.
  • Master node is the one in charge of managing cluster operations. Although not recommended, you can configure a master node to act as a data node.

Deploy an ElasticSearch Cluster in Cloud Application Manager

  • Click New Instance and select the

  • ...

    Read on...

    On Multi-Cloud Management: the Incremental and the Transformative

    December 9, 2014
    By Jared Ruckle, Senior Product Manager. Find Jared on Twitter

    Public cloud has so many enterprise IT execs excited.  The excitement stems from the right objectives (agility, OpEx, getting out of the infrastructure business), but is often associated with false expectations. 

    Namely, the idea of an expansive, highly-centralized multi-cloud strategy.  In this scenario, an IT pro manages multiple clouds with ease.  Key to this vision: a “single pane of glass” management and orchestration layer.

    The idea is solid – it hypothetically delivers interoperability, access to innovation across providers, and pricing arbitrage.  Who doesn’t want to seamlessly move workloads across clouds, without missing out on new features or price drops?

    But the reality doesn’t match up.  Here are the problems:

    • Cloud interoperability is very difficult to achieve.  From a slew of service provider APIs, and a few open source ones, to monitoring, metering and identity and access requirements – just to name a few – its clear that “lifting and shifting” workloads from one place to another is not as easy at it might seem at first glance.
    • New features from each cloud provider take time to integrate into each 3rd party management tool. These vendors need to keep pace with innovation as well.  By definition, they will always be a few steps behind the
    ...

    Read on...

    DataGardens joins CenturyLink, adding proven disaster recovery offering to cloud portfolio

    December 8, 2014
    By

    A comprehensive disaster recovery architecture requires careful planning and robust technology. To make this easier for CenturyLink customers, we’re excited to announce the acquisition of DataGardens Inc., a Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) provider based in Edmonton, Alberta. This is big news for our customers because it gives them a cost-effective and innovative way to mirror physical or virtual machine data to a highly available cloud environment. The acquisition announced today brings a proven disaster recovery offering into the CenturyLink Cloud portfolio and lets us more fully integrate this innovative toolset into our product suite.

    Listen to any CIO and you’ll hear that business continuity is a critical component of a healthy IT portfolio. However, only 23 percent of technology professionals think that they can get their IT systems back up and running after disaster. This might explain why Forrester is seeing a growing number of enterprises turn to cloud and Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS).

    CenturyLink and DataGardens have a longstanding partnering relationship and formed a closer cloud relationship earlier this year. DataGardens’ flagship software suite, SafeHaven, provides cloud-based disaster recovery by creating an offsite virtual data center in locations such as CenturyLink Cloud. Customers can define recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives, and...

    Read on...

    This Cloud has a Silver Lining

    December 3, 2014
    By Jeff Katzen

    As a cloud architect, trying to explain to my family and friends what I do is sometimes amusing and often times a frustrating experience. Cloud is a term that is greatly overused and because of that everyone has a definition. For me, cloud is all about automation.

    For end users who have had to endure extremely long procurement and delivery cycles for IT services, automation can be an intoxicating thing. Automation equals possibility… It is a powerful capability, and when used appropriately, can drive your business forward. It is all about speed, and wrapped in the economics of a public cloud model, enables businesses to try new ideas, launch new applications or expand into new geographies in a low risk way.

    However, without an appropriate level of financial governance, automation can bring on storm clouds. It is not uncommon that I speak with organizations that have embraced public cloud only to have to change their course a short while later because they spent far more than originally anticipated. Pricing model transparency, or lack thereof, by a Cloud Service Provider is certainly a cause of these types of challenges. The real challenge is lack of financial governance or visibility into spend.

    But don’t...

    Read on...

    Control Resources and Costs with Instance Scheduler

    December 2, 2014
    By

    Instance Scheduler

    In infrastructure-centric organizations, the IT operations team centrally manages infrastructure needs to efficiently utilize resources and streamline costs. To that end, IT defines policies and plans resources based on expected workload, budget, and general business requirements. Developers depend on IT for new machines to deploy applications and services, and again to dispose of or recycle them after use. From a developer’s point of view, this dependency slows down their development cycle.

    But what happens when IT is delivered and consumed as a service, and when developers can deploy their applications on the organization’s infrastructure at will, at the click of a button?

    IT as a Service with Cloud Application Manager

    In application-centric organizations, IT operations remove as much friction as possible. Infrastructure is provisioned from the top down, based on the resources needed to serve the application.

    IT as a Service empowers both the IT and the development teams. Empowers IT because they no longer focus on low-level constraints around infrastructure, but on high-value activities around applications. Empowers developers because they can shape their ideas into reality in production faster, focus 100% on writing code rather than tinker with the underlying infrastructure.

    Developers now have access to infrastructure on demand and consume resources without process...

    Read on...

    Cloud Strategy Checkup

    November 26, 2014
    By Jared Ruckle, Senior Product Manager. Find Jared on Twitter

    Our usual posts here focus on practical, hands-on advice for getting the most out of CenturyLink Cloud and the new capabilities we continuously rollout.

    But sometimes, it’s helpful to step back and look at the big picture – particularly if your enterprise is managing scores of cloud apps from dozens of vendors.

    Many customers we speak with are feeling the pain of this situation.  It’s not quite “Shadow IT,” because IT knows what’s happening.  But it’s the pain that comes with a lack of focus or cohesion around a much smaller set of strategic vendors.

    Does this sound like your situation?  If so, have a look at our top six recommendations for advancing your Cloud strategy. The content is foundational, and may be messages you’ve heard before.  But it’s a great refresher as your business seeks to further the competitive advantage gained through cloud adoption.

    ...

    Read on...

    Managing a Team Development Environment with Vagrant and Chef

    November 18, 2014
    By Matt Wrock

    Just about every software engineer has had the experience of onboarding with a new team and spending a day, a week or more getting their development environments situated so they can actually run the application they signed up to work on and start committing code and being productive. Some teams try to improve upon this by maintaining a team wiki that documents setup instructions and may even include setup scripts. Unless these are actively maintained and curated they may cause more harm than help, leading the new developer down dead ends and on wild goose chases.

    The best solution is less narrative and more executable documentation. One tool that many developers use to facilitate this and one we use on the infrastructure automation team at CenturyLink Cloud is Vagrant. Vagrant is a tool that makes it easy to share virtual environments across different virtualization platforms and makes destroying and recreating those environments an easily repeatable process. It also provides a mechanism that allows you to code in your native environment while your app runs in a VM.

    In my first few months on the CenturyLink Cloud team, I worked on a Windows machine using Hyper-V for virtualization. Now I’m on an Ubuntu...

    Read on...

    CenturyLink Cloud November Release: A “Role” Model for Enterprise Access

    November 14, 2014
    By Bryan Friedman, Senior Product Manager. Find Bryan on Twitter

    Transparent Corporate Access to the CenturyLink Public Cloud

    Identity and Access Management solutions help enterprise IT integrate multiple systems with existing authentication services. These capabilities play a crucial role in public cloud services, where IT is keen to avoid “shadow IT” and deliver self-service access to resources without compromising important InfoSec policies.

    Simplifying this process for our customers via automation is a top priority – that’s why our Control Portal includes APIs and webhooks. We also support SAML for federation, single sign-on (SSO) and multifactor authentication (MFA).

    That’s “identity.” So what about “access”?

    Today, we released a new permissions model that implements an expanded role-based access control (RBAC) capability. These new features empower administrators to grant more granular access to specific areas of the CenturyLink Cloud Control Portal to users.

    We’re rolling out eight roles (below) with varying degrees of access, each specifically designed to align with job functions seen within many enterprises today.  The upshot is fine-tuned access control, and enabling a “least-privilege” approach to enterprise cloud management.

    Cloud Access that Looks Like Your Current Access

    These roles reflect the most frequently requested levels of access, mapping to unique personas.  They range from full control (Account Administrators), specialized areas of expertise (Server Administrators, Server Operators,...

    Read on...

    Five Features to Secure Your Cloud Future

    November 12, 2014
    By Ben Brauer and Steve White

    When enterprises make decisions on which cloud services to consider, security is the ultimate “table stakes” capability that any cloud provider must prove. There has been great innovation in the industry to assuage mainstream adopters, but not all cloud service providers are consistent in areas of identity management, network security, data security, threat prevention, and more.  Organizations and individuals still need to pay close attention to whether cloud service providers are delivering these five main security features:

  • Standards-based integration with identity management providers: Integrated identity has become a key enabler to quickly provision and (more importantly), de-provision access to company resources and data. To facilitate this, the service should have an identity solution for their management tools that quickly and easily integrates with existing processes used by the customer through a standards-based mechanism such as Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) 2.0, OAuth 2.0 with OpenID Connect, etc. This type of integration also provides complete control over password complexity rules, expiration, and the ability to require various forms of multi-factor authentication. In addition to standards-based integration, the service should also provide an easy-to-use, stand-alone multi-factor authentication (MFA) mechanism for those customers who don’t already have an existing identity management solution. This encourages
  • ...

    Read on...

    Platform Team Hack House 2014

    November 11, 2014
    By @nathanyoung, Creative Director

    The CenturyLink Platform Team recently spent two weeks together in the city of St George in Southwest Utah. In what’s become an annual event, the team—including developers, testers, product managers and design—stayed in the “Hack House” to work on our Cloud Platform, as well as get to know each other outside the confines of our beautiful new office. By spending the time to connect with each other, we build trust and empathy, which enables us to interact and collaborate at a higher level. We’re firm believers that if you actually like your coworkers, you’ll be happier and do better work because of it. The Hack House is a great way to forge this bond.

    Some of the team at the top of AngelAt the top of Angel’s Landing

    However, just because we went away to sunny and dry Southwest Utah, doesn’t mean we spent the whole time hiking in Zion National Park. The focus of the development iteration centered around new role based access controls and feature flags for individual data centers, which will be released tomorrow. Still, during down time everyone took advantage of what the area had to offer, from hiking, photography, and mountain biking, to fixing that bug that always bothered you but never had time for...

    Read on...

    Announcing Cloud Reports – A Simple and Easy Way to Track and Optimize Your Cloud Spend

    November 11, 2014
    By

    Today, Cloud Application Manager announces the launch of Cloud Reports to help companies manage and control their cloud footprint and resulting costs across cloud service providers. This new offering provides IT managers with comprehensive tools they need to understand, track and optimize spend and usage across all their cloud resources on AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.

    We’ve found that more than 50 percent of our customers companies today use more than one cloud provider. As more companies disperse their resources across multiple cloud services, it’s increasingly difficult for them to fully understand the return on those investments.

    Enter Cloud Application Manager Cloud Reports, a new product that aims to help companies manage their spend and monitor usage across multiple cloud platforms all in one place. Beyond spend-tracking or reporting, it provides insights into how teams or applications are using resources so companies can optimize costs for each provider and deploy resources where they make the most sense.

    With Cloud Application Manager Cloud Reports companies can:

    Track spending on cloud providers such as AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure

    In addition to tracking overall spend on each cloud provider, customers can also track spend for different provider accounts, services, instance sizes, and datacenter locations.

    Spending Tracker

    Compare...

    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

    * An SMS message will be sent for verification. Standard rates apply.

    ** See details, terms and conditions