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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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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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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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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Six Interesting Things from Cloud Connect

March 10, 2013
By Jared Ruckle

Cloud Connect, last week in Santa Clara, offered an insightful look on the state of the industry, with perspectives from analysts, big name vendors, and startups.  Here are a few things that caught our eye in the week that was.

The Enterprise Cloud Adoption Survey Summary from Everest Group.  Done in conjunction with the organizers of Cloud Connect, the survey of 3 segments (cloud buyers, cloud service providers, and cloud advisors) offers a reality check on where the market is today, compared to the future-looking perspectives that are common in emerging spaces like this one.  One of the more interesting highlights that mirrors our experience:

Public cloud providers may need to modify their communication on the cost benefits of adoption from a pure cost/unit conversation to one that is more focused around lower TCO and ROI

The findings also paint a positive picture for platform-as-a-service (PaaS), indicating that a strong majority of survey respondents are already using PaaS, or plan to in the near future.  Check out the whole survey here.

Q&A with Joe Weinman of Telx.  Against conventional wisdom, Joe has long predicted that hybrid clouds will be the eventual end state of cloud computing.  Our own Richard Seroter catches up with Joe,...

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Docker and the Future of the PaaS Layer

March 4, 2013
By Originally Published On AppFog

You know what’s pretty easy nowadays? Throwing a bunch of processes onto a server running somewhere far away. Dozens. Thousands. Millions. As many as you want. This was really, exasperatingly hard just a few years ago. But Amazon Web Service, CenturyLink, and other players have come along to make this pretty painless.

But you know what’s still really hard? Making those processes completely self-contained and yet running on one kernel and manageable from a single interface. This is the problem that Docker was meant to solve.

Brief intro to Docker

Docker chose to address this problem by building a developer-friendly abstraction layer on top of Linux containers (LXC). LXC is a powerful concept, but it simply wasn’t built as an intuitive interface. It’s a pain to use and prohibitively complicated for anyone but the most adept Linux power users.

And so the idea of enabling developers of all stripes to actually use them in a way that gets rid of tons of conceptual overhead and streamlines the use of containers into an actual runtime that makes real sense amounts to a massive win over the more low-level containerization tools that already exist.

Docker takes LXC and constructs a set of basic commands around it, commands...

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Why JSON will continue to push XML out of the picture

March 4, 2013
By Originally Published On AppFog

The world’s digital infrastructure is currently characterized by a plethora of data interchange formats. It’s not the least bit surprising that such a multiplicity undergirds things at the moment. The internet is scarcely a generation old, while the “Internet of Things” and “Big Data” more closely resemble regulative ideals than realities. But I nonetheless believe that there are strong, discernible historical tendencies currently at work in this field, tendencies that strongly favor JSON over others.

Ten years ago, XML was the primary data interchange format. When it came on the scene, it was a breath of fresh air and a vast improvement over the truly appalling SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language). It enabled people to do previously unthinkable things, like exchange Microsoft Office documents across HTTP connections. With all the dissatisfaction surrounding XML, it’s easy to forget just how crucial it was in the evolution of the web in its capacity as a “Swiss Army Knife of the internet.”

But it’s no secret that in the last few years, a bold transformation has been afoot in the world of data interchange. The more lightweight, bandwidth-non-intensive JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) has emerged not just as an alternative to XML, but rather as a...

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Load Balancing, High Availability, and Disaster Recovery: What They Are and How We Can Help

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

It’s easy for cloud customers to get confused about the roles and responsibilities of their internal team and their cloud vendor. That confusion is especially evident when it comes to application availability and business continuity planning. How does disaster recovery differ from high availability? Does my cloud provider automatically load balance my application servers? The answers to these questions are critical, but sometimes overlooked until a crisis occurs. In this post, we’ll talk about load balancing, high availability, and disaster recovery in the cloud, and what the CenturyLink Cloud’s cloud infrastructure has to offer.

Load Balancing

What is it?

Wikipedia describes load balancing) as:

Load balancing is a computer networking method to distribute workload across multiple computers or a computer cluster, network links, central processing units, disk drives, or other resources, to achieve optimal resource utilization, maximize throughput, minimize response time, and avoid overload. Using multiple components with load balancing, instead of a single component, may increase reliability through redundancy).

You commonly see this technique employed in web applications where multiple web servers work together to handle inbound traffic. Load Balanced ApplicationThere are at least two reasons why load balancing is employed:

  • The required capacity is too large for a single machine. When running processes that consume a
...

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A Better Way to Provision Cloud Servers (And Why Templates Aren’t Enough)

February 14, 2013
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

If you’ve ever looked at cloud server prices, or deployed a cloud server instance, you’ve likely noticed that most providers have a selection of “templates” to choose from. Users browse and select from a library of pre-baked server templates that contain combinations of compute, storage, operating systems, database technology, web servers, and commercial software. This isn’t the approach we take at CenturyLink Cloud, however.

Why?

We see at least two challenges with templates.

  • Impossible for providers to match complete need, and difficult for customers to maintain custom templates. The number of templates offered by leading cloud providers range from dozens to thousands. With templates, the provider aims to offer as many useful combinations of OS + software as possible. However, this requires providers to engage in an endless quest to assemble server images that are useful to customers.

    What if the customer doesn’t see anything they like? Sure, you can upload custom templates, but that shifts the maintenance responsibility to the customer. The provider may have automation tools available for updating and patching images, but enterprise IT departments may not have the necessary capabilities to do the care and feeding of a custom template library.

  • Not a complete replacement for the way enterprise IT builds
  • ...

    Read on...

    Node.js is taking over the Enterprise – whether you like it or not

    February 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    Node.js is taking over the Enterprise – whether you like it or not

    The question is no longer if Node is enterprise ready. The question now is the following: what major digital enterprises will end up being the last hold-outs?

    There’s now no question whatsoever that Node is far more than a flash in the pan. The question nowadays is not whether or not Node will break out of its so-called “hipster hacker” bubble, but rather how much of the digital world it will conquer.

    In spite of all of the early FUD directed at the Node community and arguments that you shouldn’t use Node for anything much less for enterprise-ready web development, a pretty sizable chunk of the corporate world has gotten on the train.

    It turns out that the same things that made hackers fall in love with Node are more or less the same reasons why enterprises are turning to it. In a world in which we want information pipelined to us in real time and in which technological advancements like open APIs and distributed computing have made that possible in once-unprecedented ways, then it’s no surprise whatsoever that the contemporary digital marketplace would begin looking for tools to not just...

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    Resellers, MSPs, and SIs: The Private Label Cloud Services Opportunity

    January 31, 2013
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    The shift to cloud services is, in part, about empowering business users to manage more of their own IT needs themselves. To wit, traditional infrastructure service providers are rapidly introducing self-service, elastic capabilities to meet market demand. Enterprises can deliver on their “IT-as-a-Service” roadmap with a branded cloud administrative portal – complete with rapid provisioning – that matches corporate guidelines.

    Solving this scenario has been a roadmap priority for CenturyLink Cloud. So we are pleased to announce new functionality today that helps resellers, ISVs, and enterprise IT shops deliver a personalized version of our cloud. Leading infrastructure provider like PEER 1  have found success with our model, and so can you.

    How do we deliver a personalized cloud? Five key ways: user interface rebranding, content settings, email templates, single-sign-on support, and API access. Let’s briefly look at each of these.

    User interface rebranding

    Easily alter the visual appearance of the Control Portal, our web-based cloud management interface. This is the easiest – although most superficial – way to rebrand our cloud as your own. We provide two collections of settings for changing the look and feel of the admin console. The Site Branding settings let you define (1) the name of the site, and (2) the graphic logo...

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