CenturyLink Cloud Adds Support for Red Hat Solutions to its Enterprise Cloud Platform

October 5, 2012
By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

CenturyLink Cloud joins Red Hat ecosystem as a Certified Cloud Provider

BELLEVUE, Wash. — November 5, 2012 ― CenturyLink Cloud, Inc., the enterprise cloud platform provider, announced today it has joined the Red Hat Cloud ecosystem and is now a Red Hat Certified Cloud Provider.   Red Hat Enterprise Linux is immediately available to customers of CenturyLink Cloud’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service offerings.

“Today’s enterprises demand the flexibility to deploy the operating systems and run-times of their choice.  In fact, IT leaders are increasingly selecting unique combinations of technology to optimize the performance of specific workloads,” said Jim Newkirk, VP of engineering at CenturyLink Cloud. “Red Hat is one of the biggest proponents of enterprise cloud computing, and our partnership will help customers migrate more projects to the CenturyLink Cloud cloud with confidence.”

CenturyLink Cloud’s cloud services are designed for large and mid-sized businesses.  The company includes important enterprise features in its base products, including advanced security measures, risk mitigation and high availability.  This enables IT departments to bring applications and services to the cloud more easily with CenturyLink Cloud than other alternatives.

There’s also good news for enterprises that use on-premise images of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.  These customers that deploy cloud-based versions of this...

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Your apps don’t have to be BUILT for the cloud to be IN the cloud

October 1, 2012
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

We at CenturyLink Cloud never like to see fellow cloud providers experience downtime as it hurts the reputation of our industry. Following an outage by a couple major cloud providers last week, many pundits came out of the woodwork to scold the customers of these cloud services that experienced corresponding downtime. Why? It’s become “common knowledge” that if a user of cloud services experiences downtime, then they haven’t properly architected their apps for the cloud. I wonder why we assume that every business has the engineering prowess of cloud pioneers like Netflix. Cloud users are rightly encouraged to build and deploy distributed applications that can withstand the failure of any component(s), but the reality is that this doesn’t always happen because of one or more of these reasons:

They Don't Know Any Better

While many of us have spent years in the cloud, it’s easy to forget that this is an entirely new domain for the vast majority of enterprise customers. To be sure, principles of good architecture and highly available systems have been around for decades, but we recognize that cloud computing introduces its own wrinkles to those existing patterns. It’s up to all of those in the industry to help...

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Who Does What: A Look at Everyone’s Responsibilities in IaaS

September 30, 2012
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

As organizations continue to get more comfortable with the idea of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), one area of confusion can still be “who does what?” While clouds, like the one offered by CenturyLink Cloud, deliver a wide variety of self-service capabilities and automated infrastructure management, not everything is simply “taken care of.” It’s dangerous to assume that something (e.g. high availability, data security) is handled by the software or the service provider when in fact it is not.  When plotting out usage of IaaS resources, it’s important for organizations to understand where they need their engineers, what the software will do for them, and what sorts of requests involve engineers from the CenturyLink Cloud Network Operations Center (NOC). In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the responsibilities of each actor.

Customers

Let’s start with the customer. There are a few things that a cloud customer does outside of any software provided by CenturyLink Cloud. For instance, it’s up to the customer to figure out who is going to be an administrator of the cloud and what the expected resource consumption is going to be. Our software is built to make it easy to actually define a cloud server configuration, but it’s...

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PEER 1 Hosting and CenturyLink Cloud deliver VMware-based enterprise cloud in the UK

September 25, 2012
By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

High Availability SLA, Automatic Back Up and Offsite Replication Available on Pay as You Use Basis

PEER 1 Hosting (TSX:PIX), the global IT hosting provider, and CenturyLink Cloud, the enterprise cloud platform developer, today announced a partnership to deliver VMware-based enterprise cloud to the UK market.

The solution combines hosting services from PEER 1 Hosting with the enterprise-grade cloud platform from CenturyLink Cloud, and is underpinned by VMware’s vCloud platform; giving customers the ability to easily and successfully manage their businesses in the cloud.

Built with IT and development operations in mind, the enterprise cloud platform drives tangible return on investment, reduces time to market, makes it easier to manage complexity and minimizes operational requirements. Customers will also benefit from local data centers and regionalized disaster recovery along with an expanding global footprint of cloud nodes.

“Our partnership with CenturyLink Cloud means we can now offer enterprise customers an innovative, high performance cloud service with business continuity built right in,” said Fabio Banducci, President and CEO, PEER 1 Hosting. “This easy-to-manage cloud solution will allow customers to focus on growing their business without worrying about security, backup or compliance. Our unique utility-based pricing model also means they are paying only for what they need without having to...

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Small Feature, Big Impact: Executing Script Statements Against Groups of Cloud Servers

September 24, 2012
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

In last week’s cloud software release, we pushed out a subtle new capability that should pack a big punch for our customers. CenturyLink Cloud is constantly looking for ways to engineer a better server management experience for our IaaS customers, and we think that this a great example of that focus. In this blog post, I’ll describe this new feature, show you where to access it, and when you will want to use it.

What is it?

In a nutshell, users can now easily execute arbitrary script commands when creating or managing servers in our cloud. Windows users can choose between PowerShell and Windows Command scripts, while Linux users may use SSH scripts. Both the Command and SSH scripts execute directly on the target machine(s) whereas PowerShell scripts take advantage of the “remote PowerShell” capability.

Where do I access it?

We expose this capability in the two most relevant places. First, blueprint designers can include the Script activity when orchestrating new server environments

When this Script task package is added to a blueprint, the blueprint designer is asked to choose both the target server and execution mode (PowerShell/Command/SSH), and then enter the actual script statement. In the “Script” textbox, the user inputs a single statement...

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CenturyLink Cloud is a 2012 Magic Quadrant Visionary for Public Cloud Infrastructure

September 23, 2012
By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

Company Recognized for its Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision

BELLEVUE, Wash. — October 22, 2012 ― CenturyLink Cloud, Inc., the enterprise cloud platform company, today announced that it has been positioned by Gartner, Inc. as a Visionary in the 2012 Magic Quadrant for Public Cloud Infrastructure as a Service1. The Magic Quadrant depicts Gartner’s analysis of how certain vendors measure against criteria for that marketplace, as defined by Gartner.

CenturyLink Cloud offers a full featured, well-engineered platform with an easy to use self-service portal along with its innovative and ambitious product roadmap. Architected for the enterprise, CenturyLink Cloud’s trusted virtual private cloud solution puts companies on the path to IT as a Service without compromising on IT requirements.  The CenturyLink Cloud cloud offers a services fabric PaaS and advanced orchestration to enable agility for both greenfield and legacy applications as well as advanced management features that enhance IT operational efficiency, creating scale around our customers most valuable resource –people.

Read the 2012 Magic Quadrant for Public Cloud Infrastructure as a Service report.

For the report, Gartner defines Infrastructure as a Service as a standardized, highly automated offering, where compute resources, complemented by storage and networking capabilities, are owned by a service provider...

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SaaS Your App: Providing Support to Customers (Part V)

September 12, 2012
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

Throughout this series of articles, we have looked at the architectural considerations and solution components that are necessary for delivering software as a service (SaaS). We have seen that upfront design is critical when building software that can be successfully used by customers with unique needs. A full-featured cloud service provider like CenturyLink Cloud offers many of the infrastructure automation and management services that makes it possible to efficiently deliver such software at scale. In this final article, we take a look at the choices that a SaaS provider needs to consider when deciding upon a support strategy for their customers.

One overarching consideration that any SaaS provider has to make is whether they plan on providing consumer-oriented, personalized service, or something with a more mass market flavor. Each approach has merit but would result in different implementations of four suggestions below.

Standardize wherever possible

One of the only ways that any software provider, SaaS or otherwise, can sell at scale is to standardize their offering and avoid per-customer customization. While everyone loves the idea of “I want it my way”, that concept quickly falls apart when the software provider is maintaining unique code bases, support instructions, and pricing.

The most...

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SaaS Your App: Building a Customer Sign-Up and Management Portal (Part IV)

August 26, 2012
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

So far, we have reviewed many considerations for designing, hosting and managing a SaaS application on a cloud platform. One of the hallmarks of cloud computing is the notion of “self service”, and for SaaS providers, it’s the only way that they can efficiently scale to hundreds or thousands of customers. In this article, we will look at how to use the CenturyLink Cloud web API to create a self-service sign up and management portal that lets SaaS customers administer their applications without requiring help from the software provider.

Solution Overview

We have been working through a scenario with a fictitious SaaS application that acts as a public face for candidates running for elected office. The application’s developer chose to deploy unique server clusters for each customer in order to isolate their sensitive donor and donation data. The management database, which holds account details and application configuration data, was shared.

In previous articles, we walked through the steps of creating a blueprint for the server clusters, and now need a way to automatically provision these clusters and enable a self-service management experience.

Adding New Customers

The first thing that our developer provided was the ability to add new SaaS customers. For...

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(Actually) To the Cloud

August 20, 2012
By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

I am delighted to report that I have joined CenturyLink Cloud as the VP of Engineering. I joined CenturyLink Cloud for two primary reasons; its comprehensive cloud management offering that is built for agility, and its talented team with the ability to execute on its vision.

As I look at the various cloud computing offerings from other vendors, they focus on compute, storage, and networking. Don’t get me wrong; all of these are necessary. CenturyLink Cloud not only addresses these building blocks, but we optimize them for more agile infrastructure that is easy to use and, just as important, easy to manage for IT operational efficiency.

The second reason is the people. Years ago when I joined my first start-up, Clear Communications (no, it did not bring me riches), I made a decision that working with great people on a day-to-day basis was critical for my professional development. For example, even though I worked at Teradyne with Robert C. Martin (Uncle Bob) it wasn’t until I moved to Clear Communications that I began to work with him on a daily basis. I cannot underestimate how much I learned in a short period of time from working with him. I have met and...

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SaaS Your App: Establishing Operational Support (Part III)

August 12, 2012
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

So far in this series of articles, we’ve looked at how a software provider can deliver their product in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) manner using the CenturyLink Cloud Enterprise Cloud Platform. While provisioning and deployment of solutions is an exciting topic, the majority of an application’s life will be spent in maintenance mode. In this article, we will look at how a CenturyLink Cloud cloud user can efficiently manage and monitor their SaaS environment.

Defining Customer Capacity Thresholds

You may recall from the last article that our fictitious SaaS application is targeted at candidates for political office. In this scenario, the application developer chose to create individual pods of servers for each customer instead of co-locating the customers on the same application or database server.

Each of the pods of servers go into a CenturyLink Cloud Group which creates a logical segmentation of servers. Each Group can have its own permissions, maintenance schedule, performance monitors and much more. From the CenturyLink Cloud Control Portal, we can browse the individual server groups and have at-a-glance visibility into the resources being used by each server.

In an upcoming article we will look at how to allow SaaS customers to increase server resources...

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SaaS Your App: "Blueprinting" Your Application (Part II)

August 5, 2012
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

In the first article of this series, we discussed the major things to consider when looking to create a software-as-a-service version hosted on a cloud platform. One major factor called out in that article was the need for a solid hosting environment. In this article, we will look at how to use the CenturyLink Cloud Enterprise Cloud Platform to package a web application for SaaS provisioning.

Solution Overview

To provide some real-life applicability to this article series, let us work with a fictitious, but realistic, use case. Elections to government posts are a regular part of most societies and it’s becoming increasingly critical for candidates to have a robust web presence. Let’s imagine that a web developer successfully built a web site for a local candidate and has realized that this site template could be reused by multiple candidates. Recall from the previous article that an application can be multi-tenant (and thus easier to maintain for multiple customers) in multiple ways:

  • All customers could reside on the same instance of the web application and database.
  • Customers can share a web application but maintain unique databases.
  • Each customer gets their own web application and database instance and MAY share underlying infrastructure.

    There are benefits and risks

  • ...

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    CenturyLink Cloud Unveils New Cloud Server Group Management Features

    July 28, 2012
    By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

    Innovative Cloud-Based Group Management Features Mitigate Server Sprawl and Further Optimize Management, Monitoring and Reporting

    BELLEVUE, Wash. — August 28, 2012 ― CenturyLink Cloud, Inc., the enterprise cloud platform company, today introduced a new set of Server Group Management features that make it easier to maintain large server environments located in its Cloud. The newly unveiled capabilities provide users with a consistent and intuitive way to organize and manage virtual machines through group-based permissions, policies, bulk execution actions, and more.

    As organizations move more of their workloads to the Cloud, organizing and managing those server farms can become challenging, expensive and time-consuming. The CenturyLink Cloud Cloud Server Group Management capability gives system administrators the tools they need to navigate these challenges starting with the ability to logically group and manage their large-scale cloud deployments. Groups are intuitively integrated within both the CenturyLink Cloud Control Portal and programmatic API, allowing administrators to create collections of servers that have their own permissions, policies and default server configuration settings.  In addition, actions performed against the groups, such as rebooting or taking snapshots of a server, can be performed in bulk—allowing administrators to spend less time maintaining individual servers and more time optimizing their overall cloud...

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