Securely Connect to Your AWS Cloud Resources

July 10, 2014
By

When using Cloud Application Manager, you bring your own cloud. To deliver the absolute best experience of deploying applications on any cloud, we are working very closely with all the cloud providers that we support – Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, OpenStack, CloudStack, and VMware. One of the topics that often comes up is security. Today, we’re adding enhanced security for our AWS support.

Our friends at Amazon have built comprehensive Identity and Access Management (AWS IAM) features, which enable enterprises to grant and control secure access to specific AWS resources. For instance, with AWS IAM, cloud administrators can set up password policies for the user groups, delegate user and application rights with roles instead of sharing credentials and even enable multi-factor authentication for more privileged users. AWS IAM helps cloud administrators to narrow down the user rights and grant the least needed privileges for the users and applications.

At Cloud Application Manager we are putting a lot of emphasis on security and hence we are proud to take advantage of the AWS IAM features. It is essential for us that we always comply with the industry standards and best practices of security and risk management. Starting July 11th,...

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Scale All of the Things! Go In, Out, Up, Down in the CenturyLink Cloud

June 30, 2014
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

Are you getting the full benefit of the cloud if you don’t take advantage of its elasticity? To be sure, there are many ways that cloud environments—running dynamic OR static workloads—can positively impact your business agility. But cloud computing fundamentally changes the relationship between infrastructure and workloads that run upon it; you can constantly right-size by adding and removing capacity on demand instead of being stuck with over-sized or under-powered environments. To do this effectively, you need flexible options for automatically and manually adjusting your infrastructure resources. In this post, I outline five different application scenarios, and which CenturyLink Cloud scaling capability delivers the optimal elasticity solution.

1. Modern web application with variable usage? Horizontal Autoscale!

Horizontal AutoscaleAre most of your internal or external facing web applications in constant, heavy use? If so, I’d be surprised! The applications that your employees rely on may be busy during predictable periods, or, experience load whenever random business conditions occur. Public web applications may spike in usage when marketing campaigns are in flight, or when an avalanche of traffic follows a social mention.

Instead of standing up gobs of (costly) infrastructure that only add value during random usage spikes, consider services like CenturyLink Cloud Horizontal Autoscale. Our...

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Deploying a MongoDB Cluster with Cloud Application Manager

June 20, 2014
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With Cloud Application Manager, you can easily deploy a self replicating MongoDB cluster in just a few minutes. In order to accommodate Cloud Application Manager’s data needs, we rely on MongoDB clusters that run on two public clouds and one private data center.

This way we can provide redundancy, high availability and excellent read and write performance around the world. Using Cloud Application Manager, and our concept of Boxes, which are application or infrastructure components made available as a service, we can consistently deploy a MongoDB cluster in just a matter of minutes on any of our Cloud Providers.

To get started deploying MongoDB clusters on Cloud Application Manager, sign up today for our free account! If you’re interested in other resources on MongoDB, check out how you can easily use Splunk to monitor MongoDB using Cloud Application Manager.

The Basics

What is MongoDB? MongoDB is an open-source document store database.

Why would you want to cluster MongoDB? To provide redundancy and high-availability for production deployments.

How We Use MongoDB

In our case, MongoDB is using a replica set model. A replica set is a group of MongoDB instances that host the same data set. One MongoDB, the primary, receives all write operations. All other instances, secondaries,...

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Mind the Gap: Innovating in the Cloud with APIs

June 16, 2014
By

If you’ve ever traveled London by the underground tube, you’ve likely heard the station speakers announce “mind the gap.” They’re warning you of a gap between the train and the platform. But why build a curved train platform in the first place? Were the engineers not aware of its dangers?

Mind the Gap

Bridging Decades of Software Gap

Now, London is an old city. Generations of engineers and architects have added their vision to the city’s foundation. Our software industry is not as old, but in comparison has seen such fast paced innovation and reinvention that it has generated decades of software on which our modern civilization is built. As a result, the only way to bridge the gap between decades of generated software is to build the equivalent of a curved station.

It’s hard to look both forward and back at the same time. For years as they combined old with new technology–ranging from hardware to application runtimes–IT tried to stabilize operations with very little room for error. That stabilizing process has been arduous and expensive.

On the other hand, the software development process is marked by continual change. Most organizations reconciled the operations and development worlds by introducing release cycles measured in years, even naming...

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Multi-Tier Applications Done Right

June 11, 2014
By

One of the biggest problems facing software engineers since the dawn of the multi-tier application is, well, how to make it multi-tier.

It’s more than just having several supporting applications – it is about connecting the layers correctly and allowing them to communicate with each other. All this is to create a scalable and responsive deployment that can be easily updated and adapted to changing business needs.

It is about ensuring that your infrastructure can co-ordinate the order in which your application tiers are spun up, even when the apps themselves have not been designed to perform these critical dependency checks.

What Are You Looking For?

Intelligently handling your solution’s dependencies is an inherent problem in multi-tier deployments – at whatever scale you are operating. For instance,

As a developer working on a project:

“I want to ensure that my database is up and running before my web-server is deployed.”

As the CTO of a rapidly growing startup:

“I want to bootstrap on basic AWS services (such as managed cache, load balancing, and managed databases), but as the product evolves, I want to give myself the freedom to evolve the services I connect to and consume – experiencing as little downtime as...

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CenturyLink Cloud Expands Canadian Presence

June 8, 2014
By Jared Ruckle, Product Management

New cloud node in Toronto gives customers more choice and flexibility for Canadian-based cloud services

The CenturyLink Cloud global footprint expansion continues.

Today, we’re excited to give customers a new public cloud deployment option in Canada. Effective immediately, customers can deploy and manage virtual resources in our “CA3” cloud node in our CenturyLink Toronto “TR1” facility.

For businesses based in Canada, and those that do business in Canada – this new CenturyLink Cloud node offers several benefits: data sovereignty (for compliance), performance (host your apps close to your users) and the best aspects of having the CenturyLink Public Cloud available in a CenturyLink facility:

  • Scale.  The CA3 node is built to handle the pent-up demand for cloud services in Canada.
  • Advanced connectivity. CenturyLink customers who already deploy resources in our TR1 location can now connect existing infrastructure to our public cloud offering. Customers using nearby TR3, our new Toronto data center opening later this year, will also be able to take advantage of this capability.
  • Self-service access to a robust set of cloud services.Users have Lots of options to build and manage enterprise cloud environments, including Hyperscale instances with 100% flash storage for Hadoop and NoSQL workloads.

Have additional questions?  We’ve got answers!

**

What cloud services are...

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A Watershed Event for Cloud:  Managed Services On Demand

May 18, 2014
By Jared Wray, CTO of Cloud

We are in the business of solving real problems. That’s what our customers expect.  And today, we are announcing a new managed service that does just that.  Today we are introducing a cloud-based managed services offering that will help corporate managers minimize costs, complexity and risk while increasing agility and freeing budget for capabilities that transform the business and create competitive differentiation.  At CenturyLink, we believe that one of the most significant measures of problem solving is doing what we do best – managing the infrastructure that underpins the critical business initiatives of our clients and infusing that management with the automation and economics of our cloud platform.  Combined, those two elements deliver a value that no other provider can compete with today.  Infrastructure and people to run that infrastructure on-demand, paid for by the hour. Simply put, we are making cloud easier to manage for our customers.

We all know that Cloud is crossing a threshold into a new level of enterprise adoption possibilities. Enterprises now consider the cloud to be a basic necessity; a core element of their IT portfolios.  The challenge, however, is that most cloud platforms still operate on the do-it-yourself basis as cloud providers have...

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8 Managed Services, Remastered for Public Cloud

May 18, 2014
By Jared Ruckle, Product Management

Today, we announce a new way to consume managed services - a cloud-friendly way.

This is exciting news for us, given CenturyLink’s expertise in both cloud and managed services.  Our CTO Jared Wray posted his thoughts here on what this news means for our company and the industry.

Let’s look into the details of these powerful new cloud-based managed services.  The heart of our value proposition to customers is two-fold:

  • Automation, front-and-center.  We’ve automated best practices for the configuration, monitoring, and ongoing administration of 8 managed services.  The provisioning of each service is also automated, via our Blueprints orchestration engine.
  • Humans, when you need them.  Of course, humans play a key role in uptime and performance of managed environments.  But our managed services involve them intelligently, with proactive notifications.  These alerts indicate that a decision, or perhaps a manual action, is required.  That means our team is engaged, and hands-on with your environment whenever it’s needed, 24x7.

Both of these principles are hallmarks of public clouds – automation to the Nth degree, with humans jumping in only when needed.  This approach yields self-service, hourly billing, and scale.  All three are big wins for customers.

Here’s what is available on CenturyLink Cloud, effective June 30.  8 managed...

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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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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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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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