Cloud Application Manager and Infoblox – Say that Five Times Fast!

May 12, 2014
By

We at Cloud Application Manager are really excited about our partnership with Infoblox to integrate “Network Control” into your process for developing and deploying applications in a cloud environment. To align with the Infoblox press release today, I wanted to provide a little more detail on how Infoblox and Cloud Application Manager work together.

First let’s define the partnership at a high level, and from a conceptual point of view. Cloud Application Manager is a DevOps Platform that enables IT operations to deliver IT as a Service and also provides a collaboration mechanism for operations and developers to define and deploy applications in a modular process across any cloud environment – private, public, and hybrid. Infoblox, on the other hand, provides a powerful solution to centralize and automate network provisioning and control. So together, Cloud Application Manager and Infoblox ensure that when you are developing, orchestrating, and deploying your applications in the cloud, everything – including the network – will work, automatically.

OK, I am being told that I should probably provide some more detail…

Cloud Application Manager uses webhooks to provide a high level of integration to Infoblox. A quick example of how Cloud Application Manager uses webhooks to integrate with Infoblox...

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June Software Update Brings Bandwidth Price Drop and More

May 11, 2014
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

Last month CenturyLink Cloud announced some major pricing changes that took effect instantly for many customers. The adjustment to public  bandwidth pricing –  from a 95/5 billing model to $0.05 per GB transferred outbound – took effect on June 1st and gives our customers one of the lowest entry-level bandwidth prices in the cloud. 

Our latest monthly platform release reflects this bandwidth change in a few places. Bandwidth graphFirst, the bandwidth graph on the CenturyLink Cloud dashboard now shows you how much data has been transferred over public IPs. And because we’ve moved to a simpler bandwidth calculation, your real-time consumption is now rolled into our ever-present cost widget. This helps customers see their costs as they happen versus waiting until invoice time to see how the bandwidth charges were calculated for the month. Customers will also see their bandwidth consumption clearly called out on the monthly invoice. Pricing and consumption transparency is key as you assess your spend and make on the fly adjustments based on forecast usage. For more on our bandwidth update, take a look at the FAQ in our Knowledge Base.

We also introduced some major changes to the “create server” process in the CenturyLink Cloud. The new experience...

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CenturyLink Recognized as a “Visionary” in the Gartner Cloud IaaS MQ

April 30, 2014
By Jared Ruckle, Product Management

Plus 5 Observations on the Market Landscape

Last year, we opined that the cloud market, based on our read of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, had grown up.  If 2013 was the year of maturity, 2014 is the year the market hit the gas.

Download the Magic Quadrant reprint here, and take a look at the findings for yourself.  You’ll notice that most vendors are lower and to the left than they were a short 9 months ago when the last MQ was published. This market raises the bar at a rapid pace – and only a handful of companies have been able to improve their standing by adding new features and new customers.

Per usual, the cloud team at Gartner doesn’t take vendors at their word, but instead dives into each vendor’s product portfolio, while conducting countless customer interviews.  Their findings on CenturyLink?

This is a brilliant summary of our platform.  Further, it reflects our slogan of “IT-Ready, Developer-Friendly.”  Delivering a platform that delights both constituencies is our core focus.

What about the future?

With IT and developers in mind, we’re building our platform, 21 days at a time.  In the coming months, enterprises will consume managed services and...

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Let’s Start with Boxes

April 30, 2014
By

What’s a Box? Is it Like a Container?

I joined Cloud Application Manager in March and this was one of my biggest questions. So what better topic to kick off my blogging career than what a Box is…

Think of a Box as a set of instructions, a DNA, or a blueprint that tells your application components where to go and what to do.

The formal definition: A Box is a reusable, shareable, and portable layer of an application architecture. To create a multi-tier application architecture, you simply stack these Boxes.

Here’s some examples of Boxes and what they do:

  • A Java Box contains the necessary files/scripts to install java onto a generic linux image.
  • A MongoDB Box makes your database portable and modular. You can also add other variables like database permissions to the Box.
  • An NGINX Box allows you to encapsulate your HTTP web server configurations and settings making them reusable for more than one app.
  • A Chef Solo Box deploys Chef Solo on your instance and let you run a Chef cookbook.
  • A Git Box allows your instance to have an integration with your source code repository which can be used for continuous integration, for example.

So really a Box can be an OS layer, an app...

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Cloud Application Manager Supports AWS Elastic Load Balancer

April 23, 2014
By

Today, we officially pushed to production our newest supported cloud service: AWS Elastic Load Balancer.

The AWS Elastic Load Balancer, which automatically distributes incoming application traffic to the right set of EC2 instances, plays a vital role maintaining business continuity. Enterprises that often experience sudden surges in traffic, such as in media and marketing, rely on AWS Elastic Load Balancing to ensure greater levels of application fault tolerance.

With Cloud Application Manager, users compose their applications by stacking together Boxes. At the time of deploying to a cloud provider such as AWS, the user can select from a set of provider-specific services that enhance the deployment.

Users now have the option to add AWS Elastic Load Balancer capabilities at the time of deploying their Box. We support the load balancing of applications using HTTP, HTTPS, TCP and SSL protocols and provide the ability to specify the certificates necessary for secure protocols. In addition to creating brand new load balancers at the time of deployment, we also support the reuse of existing load balancers that are associated with the user’s AWS account. This allows businesses to repurpose their existing infrastructure configurations.

With the addition of Elastic Load Balancer, we have expanded our current list of...

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Why Reliable Cloud Performance Matters

April 14, 2014
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

People are right to be wary of any vendor claiming to be the “top performing!” or “fastest!” cloud provider. Most folks know that ANYTHING can look spectacular – or unspectacular for that matter – if you stack the deck just right. But at the same time, cloud shoppers have a deep hunger for legitimate information on realistic performance expectations. Cloud performance has a direct impact on what you spend on compute resources, how you decide the right host for your workload, and how you choose to scale when the need arises. In this blog post, we’ll summarize some recent findings and put them in context.

With the launch of our new Hyperscale instances, we approached an independent analytics company, CloudHarmony, and asked them to conduct an extended performance test that compared CenturyLink Cloud Hyperscale servers to the very best equivalent servers offered by AWS and Rackspace. CloudHarmony is a well-respected shop that collects data from dozens of benchmarks and shares the results publicly for anyone to dissect.  After running a variety of benchmarks over a long period of time (to ensure that the test gave an accurate look over an extended window), they shared their findings with the world. See the...

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PaaS First; IaaS Second: Five Reasons to Select Your PaaS First

April 1, 2014
By Originally Posted On AppFog.com

Are you building your cloud application directly on the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider vs. using a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)? In recent conversations with dozens of cloud application developers I’ve found many developers are still choosing to build their application using services offered by the IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) provider, e.g., Amazon (AWS), Rackspace or other IaaS providers vs. using a PaaS between the application and the infrastructure. In nearly every instance I find the primary reason for selecting an IaaS first was that the development team didn’t fully understand the benefits of a PaaS or didn’t know how to evaluate one.

We recommend to our clients that they select their PaaS first and then select the IaaS provider that best supports their selected PaaS. By developing your application using a PaaS, you can lower the total cost of ownership of your application by 30% or more. With the right PaaS, you also gain the freedom to change cloud infrastructure providers over-time and avoid infrastructure vendor lock-in by making your application portable to any IaaS provider.

We see five primary reasons for using a PaaS:

Reduced Operations Cost – we generally find that 30% or greater of development time can be consumed in DevOps functions. A PaaS will...

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5 Reasons You Will Love this CenturyLink Cloud News (Including a Price Update!)

April 1, 2014
By Jared Wray, CenturyLink Cloud CTO

When CenturyLink acquired Tier 3 in November, our newly integrated cloud team promised customers big things – faster innovation and access to more capabilities, to name a few.  The team has delivered in the first 140 days: new services and an expanded footprint.  Our Cloud SVP Andrew Higginbotham shares the results here by the numbers.

Another benefit?  Scale.  That leads to lower costs, which CenturyLink can pass along to customers.  Today, we’re pleased to announce a major price reduction for CenturyLink Public Cloud services. 

For our clients, and businesses considering cloud, here’s what you need to know about these changes:

  • The new pricing changes are effective immediately for CenturyLink Public Cloud CPU, RAM, and block storage.  These drops are dramatic – a typical CenturyLink Cloud VM will cost at least 60% less with the new pricing.  Customers without contracts will see the new pricing effective immediately; customers with contracts will hear from their account team to adjust terms accordingly. 
  • New support bundles.  Until today we have bundled premium support as part of our price offering – a key benefit to organizations formulating their cloud strategy.  But the market has matured.  As such, we are evolving our singular support offering to a strong portfolio
  • ...

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    Protect workloads with CenturyLink Cloud and Safehaven Disaster Recovery as a Service

    March 10, 2014
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Management

    IT teams spend a good deal of time thinking about disaster recovery – and rightly so.  Unexpected downtime is hugely expensive, from a loss of productivity, to an immediate loss of revenue, to long-term damage to the corporate brand.

    For disaster recovery of virtual machines already in the public cloud, CenturyLink Cloud’s premium storage option offers a simple, elegant option for enterprises.  Just click a button, and you have an RTO of 8 hours, and RPO of 24 hours in the event of a declared disaster.

    What about protecting on-premise VMs?  This is a perfect workload for public clouds like CenturyLink Cloud.  Traditional DR systems are simply too hard to get up and running.  Too often, these products:

  • Take too long to deploy.  Many take months to plan, and then even more time to deploy.
  • Add cost and complexity.  Enterprises often need to bring in consultants or additional resources to manage the effort.
  • Increase CapEx. New hardware usually needs to be purchased and managed accordingly.
  • Require burdensome testing procedures.  Once a DR solution is deployed, users are often forced to navigate long, labor intensive lead times to conduct DR tests throughout the year.
  • To help customers protect on-premise VMs, we’re excited to launch Safehaven for CenturyLink Cloud. ...

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    Heartbleed Vulnerability Update

    March 9, 2014
    By Richard Seroter, Head of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

    A dangerous bug was identified in a popular SSL/TLS library that powers many of the web servers in the internet. This bug – called Heartbleed – allows attackers to retrieve data stored in a server’s memory and access sensitive information.

    CenturyLink Cloud wants you to be aware of one impacted area which was identified through our comprehensive assessment: OpenVPN software. The Linux distribution used for OpenVPN does not yet have an updated, patched package available to remediate this vulnerability. We are actively pursuing other solutions and will have an update on this issue shortly. [Please see update and action items below]

    As this issue is related to OpenVPN client software, we believe it is important to detail what type of communication between users/machines may be affected by this vulnerability.

      Control Portal system is *NOT affected, so there is no need to change your password to the web site.

      Site to site VPN tunnels from customer premise equipment to CenturyLink Cloud data centers are *NOT affected.

      Site to site VPN tunnels between customer servers in a particular CenturyLink Cloud data center to other customer servers in a remote CenturyLink Cloud  data center are *NOT affected.

     ...

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    Our First 140 Days as CenturyLink Cloud

    March 7, 2014
    By Richard Seroter, Head of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

    Recent history has shown that after a cloud provider is acquired, the pace of innovation slows and there’s a loss of focus (and staff). If you don’t believe me, check out the release notes (if you can find them!) of some recently acquired cloud companies. It’s not pretty. I’m here to say that we’re different.

    140 days ago, the acquisition of Tier 3 by CenturyLink was described as a "transformational deal for the industry." Instead of randomizing Engineering post-acquisition with unnecessary process, and haphazard integrations with legacy and redundant products, we’ve actually accelerated pace of development on our go-forward platform, CenturyLink Cloud. In the past four months, we’ve maintained our software release cadence, grown our team, expanded our data center footprint, actively integrated with our parent company, and solidified a game-changing vision that has retained and attracted a phenomenal set of customers.

    We update our cloud platform every month with new, meaningful capabilities. Only a very small subset of cloud providers can make that claim. In the past 140 days, we’ve shipped over 1,200 features, enhancements, and fixes. This includes a new high performance server class, faster virtual machine provisioning, new reseller services, a major user interface redesign, a compelling monitoring/alerting service,...

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    New Cloud Nodes Online in Santa Clara & Sterling – An Important Milestone for CenturyLink Cloud

    March 2, 2014
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Marketing, CenturyLink Cloud

    The CenturyLink Cloud team has brought two new data centers online.  Customers can now deploy virtual resources in Santa Clara, CA (UC1) and Sterling, VA (VA1) sites.  This brings our total count of federated data centers to 11 - six in the US, two in Canada, two in the UK, and one in mainland Europe.  Expect more investment in this footprint in the months to come.

    There is something special about these new sites, our first new locations since the acquisition.

    When CenturyLink acquired Tier 3, it was a big investment for the parent company.

    The message to the market was clear: Cloud is CenturyLink’s growth engine for the future.  We’re investing in a cloud-first platform that can solve enterprise IT jobs better than any other provider.

    How do we solve them better?

    By offering a superior breadth of managed services and infrastructure…with unmatched integration between products.

    These new locations are a major milestone towards this vision.  Three reasons why:

  • Location & scale.  These are the largest CenturyLink Cloud data centers to date.  CenturyLink’s customer base is massive, and our new stack reflects the pent-up demand for public cloud.  Global scale for the enterprise is in our DNA; this is simply the latest example of our
  • ...

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