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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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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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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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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[UPDATED] “Shellshock” Vulnerability & What You Need to Know

August 25, 2014
By Jared Ruckle, Senior Product Manager. Find Jared on Twitter

A new vulnerability was recently identified in the “bash” shell that a default component of most Linux operating systems deployed globally today. This vulnerability – dubbed “Shellshock” - is being compared to what was experienced earlier this year with the Heartbleed bug because of the widespread use of the impacted Linux operating systems.

Shellshock has been assigned the highest risk rating of “10” according to the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS). Why? The vulnerability can be exploited across the network, it does not require any authentication to exploit, and exploiting this vulnerability is simple.

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Unmanaged Customers - Patch Your Systems in the CenturyLink Cloud Immediately

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If you have instances running a Linux operating system in CenturyLink Cloud data centers, you are likely affected.  Our unmanaged customers are responsible for day-to-day configuration and deployment of these systems, so it is the customer’s responsibility to remediate any affected systems.

We recommend you apply the updates for this vulnerability as quickly as possible. This is especially important for those servers running Apache web servers as there are published exploits already circulating for Apache websites.

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Managed Customers – Request Patching via Ticket with Managed Services Help Desk

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Customers running managed environments (including Apache) on CenturyLink Cloud will have their systems...

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Private Cloud: Tradeoffs and Transformation

August 15, 2014
By Jared Ruckle, Senior Product Manager. Find Jared on Twitter

A few weeks ago, we announced CenturyLink Private Cloud – a new approach to the private cloud segment that offers breakthrough simplicity for large enterprises.  CenturyLink Private Cloud is designed for those looking to deploy a transformational private cloud, instead of eking out incremental gains.

Entering a new market segment is a significant undertaking for any product organization.  Every solution requires a series of trade-offs —just ask any product manager - and development of the CenturyLink Private Cloud is no exception.  So what were the trade-offs that we made, and how do they compare to other private cloud alternatives?  For a little insight into how we evaluated the private cloud market landscape and our decision making process, read on.

Homegrown solutions

Successful private cloud deployments – though more common these days – remain elusive. The brave souls that pursue a “do-it-yourself” approach often discover that:

  • Building a cloud is hard (especially the self-service and automation)
  • Running a cloud to 99.99% SLAs is hard
  • Just because you call it cloud doesn’t mean it is one
  • Users do not automatically gravitate to what you build
  • Lots of time and money are wasted when these lessons are learned the hard way. Forrester Research posted this great analysis of DIY private clouds:
...

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Recognizing the Challenges of Hybrid Cloud – Part IV

August 9, 2014
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

Hybrid cloud is becoming a standard operating model for many organizations. But how can you realize the expected agility when there are so many challenges ahead of you? In this series of articles, we’ve dissected each challenge and proposed some corresponding solutions. Whether you’re facing security and network concerns, or integration and system management issues, it’s critical to have a proactive plan in place. This final article rounds out the discussion by looking at ways to address the issues around portability, compatibility, and your existing toolset.

Solutions to Hybrid Cloud Challenges

In many cases, a hybrid cloud is the combination of complimentary – but not identical – computing environments. This means that processes, techniques, and tools that work in one place may not work in another.

Compatibility. Gluing together two distinct environments does not come without challenges. Now, it’s possible that you have the same technology stack in both the public and private cloud environment, but the users, technology, and processes may be dissimilar!

  *Move above the hypervisor. Even if your public cloud provider supports the import and export of virtual machines in a standard format, no legitimate public cloud exposes hypervisor configurations to the user. If you want...

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Recognizing the Challenges of Hybrid Cloud – Part III

August 8, 2014
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

As hybrid cloud adoption grows, proper architecture and design of these solutions becomes critical. In the first part of this article series, we discussed the challenges any organization faces when linking public and private cloud environments. The second article outlined strategies for mitigating the network and security challenges of hybrid cloud. In this third of four articles, we will assess success strategies for application integration and system management in hybrid clouds.

Solutions to Hybrid Cloud Challenges

Data and Application Integration. Nearly every useful system is made up of data and business logic from multiple applications. Siloed, monolithic systems are fading in popularity as more dynamic systems take their place. But as you look to work with data and applications in a hybrid cloud, you need to keep a few things in mind.

  *Recognize the presence of data gravity. The concept of data gravity—a principle identified by Dave McCrory that claims that applications and services are drawn closer to large collections of data—comes to play in a hybrid cloud. Do you find yourself shuttling data back and forth over long distances? Would it make sense to move some of your large data repositories to whichever cloud most of the consuming applications...

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Recognizing the Challenges of Hybrid Cloud – Part II

August 4, 2014
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

Many organizations are adopting hybrid clouds – a bridge of public and private cloud environments – but there are many pitfalls along the way. In the first part of this article series, we looked at the challenges that any organization faces in their hybrid cloud journey. Now it’s time to see how to overcome these challenges. In this second of four articles, we will revisit the first set of hybrid cloud challenges and discuss strategies for success.

Solutions to Hybrid Cloud Challenges

Lasting success with a hybrid cloud requires strategic planning, investment, and yes, some compromise. By definition, you are using services that are outside of your control. Hence, existing processes and technologies may need to be revisited if you want meaningful integration and the flood of efficiencies that follow.

Keep in mind that every part of your organization cannot accommodate the same level of change associated with a hyper-efficient hybrid cloud. Lydia Leong of Gartner points out that organizations with “bimodal IT” – where pockets of traditional IT and agile IT co-exist – are most successful when they do NOT have a universal set of processes, tools, and skills. If your IT organization is bimodal, consider which parts of the organization...

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