The 4 Cloud Integration Dimensions: The Architects Guide to Avoiding Silos

January 28, 2013
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

Cloud adoption is growing significantly as more enterprises see the business value of having a scalable, elastic pool of computing resources at their fingertips. However, enterprise CIOs are concerned with building application silos in the cloud that don’t integrate with the rest of their systems, data, and infrastructure. One survey asked respondents to rank their areas of satisfaction for a set of SaaS applications and found that integration with on-premises systems was the area with the most frustration. Another survey found that 67% of CIOs reported problems integrating data between cloud applications. The long-term competitive advantage you gain from the cloud will likely depend – in part – on how well you can connect your assets, regardless of location. There are unique considerations for integrating with the cloud, but the core business needs remain the same. We at CenturyLink Cloud see four areas that require focus from both the cloud provider and the customer.

Application Integration

Each application – whether packaged or custom built – serves a unique functional purpose. Frequently, information from another applications is required to meet this purpose. For example, a CRM system may submit a query to an accounting system so that a call center agent can get...

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Performance in the Cloud: Upping the Ante

January 22, 2013
By Shantu Roy — Developer @shanturoy- twitter 

IT managers know that speed is the number 1 usability factor for internal apps.  For customers, who use systems and sites run by IT, speed is crucial to maximizing online engagement, and ultimately, conversion and revenue.

This situation is just another reason why the IT-as-a-Service movement is gaining steam.  IT is transitioning from a cost center to a business enabler.  And the two common scenarios mentioned above illustrate where IT and the business have a shared objective around performance.

Many of the elements that have caused latency in the past are disappearing, thanks to cloud computing.  Bandwidth, security, and server performance are no longer the primary obstacles to delivering a snappy online experience.  Issues that arise today are usually the result of the application itself.  Properly diagnosing these root causes has given rise to a new class of products, Application Performance Management (APM).

Join CenturyLink Cloud and New Relic for an online webinar on January 24 to hear us review the challenges that enterprises commonly face with application performance, and some common strategies you can investigate and put into place.

...

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Pick a Size, Any Size: How Choice in VM Capacity Empowers Customers

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

One size definitely doesn’t fit all. Nearly every cloud infrastructure provider gives their customers a choice of virtual machine configurations.These configurations often take the form of pre-defined “buckets” of VM attributes, so fine-grained choice is still not really an option. But does this really matter?

At CenturyLink Cloud, we think it does, and our customers do too. Instead of asking our customers to decide between a set of vendor-specified instance sizes, CenturyLink Cloud encourages customers to provision machines with any combination of processors, memory, and storage that best fits their needs.

There are at least three benefits we see to offering in-depth customization of virtual machines attributes.

Meet the hardware requirements of pre-packaged software without over-provisioning. The cloud isn’t just for custom web applications. vmsizing01Many users want to run commercial-off-the-shelf software in a cloud environment and apply vendor-recommended hardware sizing guidelines. Whether you’re installing Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 (recommended hardware: 4+ cores and 8+ GB of RAM per web server), or the Adobe Creative Suite (recommended hardware: 16 cores, 16 GB of RAM), each application will have its own battle-tested preferences. One choice would be to fit the packaged software into the “best fit” instance size offered by a cloud...

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Anatomy of a Website Redesign: An Interview with CenturyLink Cloud’s Creative Directo

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

CenturyLink Cloud recently launched a new version of the CenturyLink Cloud website. This was a complete site redesign and an important step in explaining why CenturyLink Cloud is a premier choice for your cloud computing needs. This redesign was led by Nathan Young, CenturyLink Cloud’s talented Creative Director and UI Designer. I sat down with Nate and asked him a few questions about the goals and technology behind the new website.

Richard: I suspect that when you planned the CenturyLink Cloud re-design, you also looked at what our peers in the industry have done with their own web presence.  Without naming names, what sort of things did you see that you liked, and disliked?

Nate: One thing we noticed while doing a competitive audit was that many cloud company websites felt very “cards close to the vest.” Granted, there would be tons of information, but nothing that actually shows what the customer experience is like. It felt like as if there was a standard checklist of benefits and specs that had to be on the site, but nothing to supports those claims with product experience demonstrations.

Part of my job as Creative Director for CenturyLink Cloud is being an experience designer, so I...

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Stop Wasting Money on Idle or Forgotten Cloud Servers

January 9, 2013
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

Every infrastructure cloud provider makes it easy to create servers. However, one of the most important characteristics of cloud computing is that it’s easy to delete servers. Go ahead and use a server for as long as you need to and then get rid of it, along with all associated costs. However, cloud cleanup is typically the sole responsibility of the customer. Some smart folks have come up with their own solutions to this problem (see Netflix and their open-sourced Janitor Monkey for AWS), but we prefer to give our customers the automation capabilities they need to easily get rid of servers that aren’t needed anymore.

Set a Server Time-to-Live

When building temporary cloud environments, you often know exactly when you’ll be done using a server or set of servers. However, after the requisite days/weeks/months have passed, who remembers to shut off those machines? During the provisioning process of a CenturyLink Cloud server, users have the option to select a server lifespan and decide whether to archive or completely delete the server.

serverdelete01

Use Scheduled Tasks to Automatically Shut Down and Resume Environments

Many servers will not be for temporary use, but they do have a defined windows of usefulness. For instance, consider a development...

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Running Out of Disk Space? You Can Expand It Yourself!

January 7, 2013
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

The November update to our enterprise cloud platform brought with it all sorts of valuable capabilities including a new Canadian data center, enhancements to our self-service networking, an upgrade of the Platform as a Service PaaS to the latest version of Iron Foundry, the introduction of first-of-its-kind Billing/Account/User management APIs, and more. What I’ll highlight today is the ability to do self-service disk resize from within our Control Portal.

Elastic Machines Result in Better Value

Properly sizing a server has always been a challenge because you need to try and anticipate future need. Do you allocate just enough resources to get by, or do you leave yourself lots of headroom in case of spikes in usage or unexpected growth? These decisions often lead to over-provisioning that results in idle CPU cycles, unused storage, and wasted money. Up until now, CenturyLink Cloud customers have been able to modify CPU and memory allocation on demand. This has proved very useful for organizations that wanted to be conscious of cost while not getting locked into an undersized server instance. Our customers have also asked us to add disk growth to our collection of self-service capabilities, so that's what we've done.

Feature Walkthrough

2012-11-30-resize01 To demonstrate, I created...

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Application Portability in Action: A Demonstration of Cloud Foundry Core

January 2, 2013
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager

The Cloud Foundry PaaS team recently announced Cloud Foundry Core as a way to make it simple for PaaS customers to discover the services and platforms supported by each Cloud Foundry provider. The provider platform, such as CenturyLink Cloud’s Platform as a Service,  is interrogated live to show the latest services and frameworks that are supported. But does this really matter? Is portability overrated?  While your business applications are probably not leaping between environments on a daily basis, portability does greatly improve deployment choice and disaster recovery options**.

Let’s see how this plays out in real life. I built a sample application that used Node.js for the web layer and PostgreSQL for the database layer. My goal is to quickly and seamlessly move this application between development (Micro Cloud Foundry), test (CloudFoundry.com) and production (CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service) environments.

Deploy an Application to Micro Cloud Foundry

Micro Cloud Foundry is a fully encapsulated virtual machine that surfaces all of the Cloud Foundry services. Developers can work with this local cloud to build and test their applications before deploying to a production-quality Cloud Foundry environment. This offering differs from the development fabric offered by other clouds in that it’s a complete clone...

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CenturyLink Cloud’s 2013 Cloud Predictions: 12 Days of Cloud

November 21, 2012
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

2012 was a pivotal year for cloud computing as products matured and real customer success stories demonstrated the fundamental business value of the cloud.

We expect that momentum to continue into 2013 and want to close this year with our “12 days of Cloud” predictions. Each day for the next 12 days, we’ll add a new, sometimes controversial, 2013 cloud prediction to this blog post.

Agree with our predictions? Think we’re drinking too much eggnog? We want to hear where you think the cloud market is heading and what you’re looking for in the upcoming year. Write a blog post in response, enter our Cloud Prediction contest, send us a tweet, or leave a comment below!

On with the predictions.

Cloud Prediction #1:  2013 is the year of cloud management software. Cloud providers have matured to a point where cross-platform management layers will thrive and become mainstream. While widely-accepted IaaS standards are a ways off, organizations will look for solutions that let them manage their diverse cloud portfolio from a single interface.

Cloud Prediction #2: **While the largest cloud providers duke it out on price and scale, smaller cloud providers see that enterprise adoption really depends on tight integration with existing tools and processes**. Rather...

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PEER 1 Hosting and CenturyLink Cloud Bring Enterprise-grade Cloud to Canada

November 10, 2012
By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

Expansion of global partnership to North America delivers superior solution to enterprises requiring geo-specific services

VANCOUVER, BC – December 10, 2012PEER 1 Hosting (TSX:PIX), the global IT hosting provider, and CenturyLink Cloud, the enterprise cloud platform company, today announced that their VMware-based, enterprise-grade cloud platform is now available in Canada. Businesses can now deploy applications on secure, enterprise cloud services in nodes located in Toronto today and Vancouver early next year.

Built with IT and development operations in mind, enterprise cloud services from PEER 1 Hosting and CenturyLink Cloud include IaaS, PaaS and advanced cloud management.  This complete cloud platform helps businesses reduce IT complexity and operational burden.  The joint offering addresses the enterprise cloud requirement for “data sovereignty” – ensuring that data is stored and managed according to Canadian rules and regulations.  In addition to compliance with Canadian requirements, the partnership offers customers global scale, with additional nodes in North America and Europe. 

Global enterprises can scale their CenturyLink Cloud-based enterprise cloud effortlessly by leveraging PEER 1 Hosting’s proprietary 10Gbps FastFiber Network™ to connect the Toronto node and planned Vancouver node to data centers in London and Portsmouth, U.K. or easily extend infrastructure to additional CenturyLink Cloud nodes in New...

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Cloud Foundry, Core Compatibility, and CenturyLink Cloud

October 13, 2012
By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

As we often say here at CenturyLink Cloud, the cloud should create choice, not limit it.  And today is a good day for that guiding philosophy.

We’re excited about a new program from Cloud Foundry - the Cloud Foundry Core.   Their blog entry today sums up the news:

The Cloud Foundry team is happy to announce Cloud Foundry Core  -  a program designed to preserve cloud application portability.

In the cloud computing world, preserving a choice of clouds is critical. The risks of being locked into a single cloud are substantial. Pricing, reliability, geographic location and compliance can all vary between clouds. Business requirements will evolve over time, necessitating the ability to move between clouds, whether public to private, private to public or between public cloud providers.

Why this is a Good Thing for Developers and Enterprise IT

Enterprises to different degrees have embraced cloud infrastructure-as-a-service, and are now looking to see what platform-as-a-service offers.  Developers of course are leading the charge here.

The benefits of PaaS are straightforward enough – the PaaS does some of the heavy lifting for developers, including load balancing.  Over time, as PaaS becomes more capable, development within the enterprise becomes cheaper and faster, while lowering risk.  Why?  The PaaS abstracts...

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Four Quick Steps to Deploying a Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server in the CenturyLink Technology Soluti

October 6, 2012
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

We just announced that we are a Red Hat Certified Cloud Provider which means that you can now confidently deploy Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers in the CenturyLink Cloud cloud. But enough talking about it; let’s show you how it’s done! In this post, I’ll walk through the short steps for getting a Red Hat Enterprise Linux box up and running.

Step 1: Build the Server in the CenturyLink Cloud Cloud

Our customers have two primary ways to build up server environments in the cloud. First off, servers can be included as part of a blueprint. Our customers leverage blueprints when they want to build reusable templates for single or multi-server environments. You can now include Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers as part of sophisticated blueprints. In addition to using blueprints, customers can build servers through a dedicated “create server” workflow. In this flow, users can provision Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers with any resource combination (CPU+memory+storage) and install any private software packages onto the new server.

After completing the workflow, users will see their new server come online in a matter of minutes.

 

Step 2: Update the server with all the latest patchset

Recall that CenturyLink Cloud cloud servers are private by default, and...

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CenturyLink Cloud Closes $10M Series B Funding Led by Intel Capital

October 6, 2012
By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

Enterprise Cloud Platform Provider Sets Sights on Expanding its Innovative Cloud Service Offering and Worldwide Growth

CenturyLink Cloud, Inc., the enterprise cloud platform company, today announced $10 million in Series B financing led by Intel Capital, with participation from returning investors Ignition Capital and Madrona Venture Group. This latest investment brings CenturyLink Cloud’s total financing to $18.5 million.

Since its founding in 2006, CenturyLink Cloud has focused on delivering enterprise-class cloud infrastructure (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) capabilities to global enterprises. The company is recognized for providing a comprehensive set of enterprise-grade cloud services in a unified platform. CenturyLink Cloud recently announced new cloud server group management capabilities to provide customers precise control of their workloads while minimizing server sprawl. This latest round of funding will allow CenturyLink Cloud to work with large global partners, such as the newly announced relationship with PEER 1 Hosting, extending its reach internationally, while continuing to build upon its core value proposition of IT operational agility and efficiency through comprehensive cloud services enhanced by orchestration, automation and advanced management capabilities.

The CenturyLink Cloud team has the technical ability and execution focus required to help transform the enterprise cloud market segment,” said Bryan Wolf, managing director...

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