On Hyperscale, and the Shift to NoSQL Systems

January 26, 2014
By Jared Ruckle, Product Marketing, CenturyLink Cloud

Today, we announced the availability of Hyperscale instances, a new service that combines our high-end compute with 100% flash storage.  Before we jump into how customers can use the service, let’s take a minute to think about the characteristics of applications and architectures deployed today. 

Here are 5 key attributes we’ve noticed:

  • Large volumes of data ingested in real-time.  Customers and partners collaborating together; lots of machine-to-machine data as well.
  • Global reach.  Startups in a garage can be global in an instant.
  • Mobile focus (often exclusively).  Low latency and a responsive user experience is crucial.
  • Highly distributed.  No single points of failure or ‘master’ node controlling other components.
  • Low cost of failure.  Open source technologies without seven-figure contracts, minimal capital expense from hardware, if any.
  • Now, think about most applications running in enterprise data centers.  In all 5 cases, it’s almost the exact opposite.

    That’s NoSQL vs. relational databases in a nutshell.  The folks at MongoDB sum it up pretty well:

    If you’re a CIO, it’s simple.  The more relational systems you have, the slower you can respond to the market.  Relational databases will always have their place.  But most of the innovation happening in the next 5 years will be on NoSQL platforms.

    Of course, the public cloud is...

    Read on...

    The Six Commandments of Achieving Isolation in a Multi-Tenant (Cloud) Environment

    January 20, 2014
    By Richard Seroter, Head of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

    Multitenancy – the concept of using a single (software) platform to serve multiple customers – is a key aspect of nearly every cloud computing platform. Pooling resources results in lower costs for all parties, greater efficiencies, and faster innovation for customers. Are there risks and tradeoffs with this model? Sure, but every technology paradigm has them.

     In this blog post, we’ll look at some core principles for successful multitenancy, see how the CenturyLink Cloud provides tenant isolation, and review the ways that CenturyLink Cloud customers create isolation within their own account. The goal is to simply help customers understand what to look for when assessing multi-tenant environments to run their workloads, SaaS applications, and more.

    Core Principles

    Any service provider delivering a multi-tenant environment must adhere to these six commandments:

     1. Thou shalt isolate tenants within their own network. This one applies mainly to infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers who promise secure computing environments. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) customers on a platform like Salesforce.com don’t have this issue as customers do not have access to low level network traffic. When granting virtual machine access to users, the service provider has to ensure that there’s no opportunity to intercept network traffic from other customers.

     2. Thou shalt not...

    Read on...

    Someone’s Infrastructure is Someone Else’s Service

    January 10, 2014
    By

    These days where everything is offered up “as a service,” we run the risk of turning “as a service” into a meaningless marketing tag. Most everyday someone out there comes up with a new “as a service” offering forcing even the government to officiate guidelines for IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. In this blog, I’d like to explore the true meaning of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and see what it means for us as enterprises and developers.

    What Does IaaS Mean?

    As defined by the government, Infrastructure as a Service allows consumers to provision processing, storage, network, and other fundamental computing resources on demand. To these provisioned resources, consumers can deploy and run arbitrary software including operating systems and applications. Without having to manage or worry about the underlying cloud infrastructure, consumers can control operating systems, storage, their deployed applications, and even in some limited way control networking components like host firewalls.

    Before Amazon’s EC2 offering, many hosting companies like Rackspace had already offered compute resources on demand. But what’s so different about the AWS offering that triggered a whole IT revolution?

    Why’s Amazon IaaS Strategy Successful?

    I believe the difference is rooted in Amazon’s service centered culture as revealed in Steve Yegge’s post and...

    Read on...

    Better Together: Bosh and Cloud Foundry on CenturyLink Cloud

    January 7, 2014
    By Jared Wray, CTO. Find Jared on Twitter.

    We’re big fans of Cloud Foundry, open-source platform as a service.  Why?  Two reasons: the level of abstraction it offers enterprise developers, and the portability across cloud providers. This combination means faster development and deployment of multi-language web applications.  And Cloud Foundry is backed by a thriving ecosystem of hosting providers.

    It’s our goal to make the CenturyLink Cloud the cloud of choice for enterprise developers interested in Cloud Foundry.  To that end, we’re excited to announce an important milestone.

    Today, we’re pleased to announce the beta availability of BOSH on the CenturyLink Cloud.

    BOSH is a crucial tool for deploying and managing Cloud Foundry at scale. It is supported on AWS, OpenStack, and vSphere and vCloud Director – and now CenturyLink Cloud.

    Getting started with BOSH on the CenturyLink Cloud is easy - just set up a Micro-BOSH server configured for CenturyLink Cloud, then use the standard BOSH command line tools!  Check out how to get started here. Support is based on the BOSH July 2013 snapshot and is Ubuntu only.

    We are confident enterprises and devs will like the “better together” combination of BOSH, Cloud Foundry and CenturyLink Cloud.  Here are five reasons why:

  • Supports everything you love about BOSH and Cloud Foundry. 
  • ...

    Read on...

    Cloud Services: Build, Buy, or Partner? Dell Chooses ‘Partner’ and So Should You

    November 12, 2013
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Marketing

    Today, Dell chose CenturyLink Cloud for their partner program due to our cloud’s extensive reseller capabilities.  These features, first launched as Tier 3’s Reseller Edition, include account management, APIs, SSO via SAML, extensive re-branding and more (details here and here). CenturyLink’s approach to reseller enablement gives Dell a completely rebranded public cloud offering overnight – no engineering required on their side.

    This is big news for us, and we’re excited to be working with Dell.

    Now, let’s explore this idea of partnerships for public cloud a little more.

    Developers and IT increasingly turn to new-school cloud vendors for their infrastructure.  Common sense on the eve of 2014.  But this shift was not anticipated by most SIs, MSPs, and hardware OEMs 5 years ago.

    How have these vendors responded?  The results are mixed.  Many are still refining their cloud strategy, and wrestling with the build, buy, partner calculus.

    The industry isn’t sitting still – far from it.  But there’s plenty of time for vendors who missed out on the first wave of cloud to capitalize on the second wave.  But as CenturyLink CTO Jared Wray recently wrote, building cloud is hard.  It takes a specific set of engineering skills that are in high demand.

    Consequently, we’re seeing...

    Read on...

    Five Ways To Enhance IT Ops With CenturyLink Cloud

    November 12, 2013
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Marketing, CenturyLink Cloud

    Today at Dell World, Dell announced that CenturyLink has joined the Dell Cloud Partner Program.

    So what does this news mean for Dell customers?  Simple: you now have easy access to a high performance, highly resilient public cloud, with extensive self-service capabilities.  And you will be supported by Dell and the CenturyLink Cloud team every step of the way.

    autoscale

    Here are five key benefits you can take advantage of immediately on this platform:

  • Deploy on virtual servers with resiliency and redundancy.  When it comes to public cloud, you hear the phrase ‘build for failure.’  That’s a critical design pattern for cloud-native applications.  But many of the apps running in your data center today – including many that are candidates to move to the public cloud – are designed with reliable infrastructure in mind.  Dell Cloud On Demand with CenturyLink offers built-in resiliency and redundancy, so many of your legacy apps – homegrown, from boutique ISVs, or Microsoft – will run smoothly ‘out of the box’ on CenturyLink Cloud.
  • Simplify DR and backups.  These tedious activities should be immediately automated.  Savvy IT departments – and those that will thrive in the future as a strategic enabler of the business – are already on this
  • ...

    Read on...

    2013 Cloud Predictions: How Did We Do?

    November 10, 2013
    By Richard Seroter, Head of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

    Last year, we made 12 predictions about what would happen in the cloud space in 2013. As the year comes to a close, it’s only fair for us to assess our hits and misses to see how well we did.

    Recap and Scorecard

    PREDICTION #1: 2013 will be the year of cloud management software.

    REALITY: Hit. We saw this come true on multiple fronts. First, cloud management providers Enstratius and ServiceMesh were acquired by Dell and CSC, respectively. Tier 3 – known for the sophisticated management software that runs our IaaS – was acquired by CenturyLink. On top of this, Gartner estimates that a new vendor enters the cloud management space every month, and nearly every cloud provider is constantly beefing up their own management offerings. This shows the strategic value of comprehensive management capabilities in a cloud portfolio. Customer adoption of these platforms is also on the rise and Gartner sees 60% of Global 2000 enterprises using cloud management technology (up from 30% in 2013).

     

    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.

    REALITY: Mixed. Of course, cloud prices definitely...

    Read on...

    ITaaS: The Innovative CIO’s Recipe to Curb Shadow IT

    October 31, 2013
    By

    Early this month I was at the CIO Executive Leadership Summit in San Diego, which attracted about 900 people; among them were CIOs from big enterprises, influencers from the press, and portfolio companies sponsored by Intel.

    At this popular networking event, I had a chance to meet several C-level executives from enterprises that turn over upwards of a billion dollars in annual revenue. It was great to connect with these folks because you get to hear of challenges from a whole organization’s perspective thanks to their bird’s eye view.

    Wary of the Shadow

    In our meetings, the CIOs talked about shadow IT problems that affect departments today. Shadow IT happens typically when groups inside your organization quickly start experimenting with or using SaaS and cloud services without waiting around for IT and organizational approval.

    Shadow IT problems spring up in large enterprises when IT departments are slow to respond to pressing business demands. IT is often too busy processing a flood of requests related to production, post production, dev, and test. They’re held back from delivering services fast because of workflow processes and the amount of manual setup involved.

    Let me give an example. Company A, a publicly traded fortune 500 company, has a policy...

    Read on...

    A Personal Message from Tier 3’s Jared Wray

    October 19, 2013
    By Jared Wray, CTO. Find Jared on Twitter.

    Tier 3 has joined CenturyLink.  We are going to build amazing things together.

    But let’s look back before we look ahead.

    Many people contributed to the success of Tier 3.  Developers launched feature after feature, while network engineers supported customers day and night.  A passion for problem solving fueled their achievements.  A tireless team of marketing, sales, and finance pros helped along the way as well – building our thought leadership campaigns, winning new business, and keeping our back office humming.

    I’d like to thank these talented individuals.  This is the team that built APIs, designed the UX, rolled out new self-service functions, and helped our customers grow.  We’ve worked with lots of great partners too.  Together, we advanced cloud computing.

    Cloud is really, really hard.  Just read the headlines – enterprises and traditional IT vendors are struggling.

    We started Tier 3 to make cloud easier.  We created products, processes, and a culture to help enable cloud for the enterprise.

    And cloud is a littler easier now, thanks to Tier 3’s ecosystem of people and partners.

    This deal would not be possible without Tier 3’s customers.  Their support, their decision to trust a smaller company for their cloud needs, and their feedback on how we could improve...

    Read on...

    Cloud IaaS Price/Performance Benchmarking – Part 2

    October 18, 2013
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Marketing

    In part one, we highlighted Tier 3’s strong showing in a recent performance benchmarking survey.

    So what to make of reports like this?  Here are 6 observations that might help you, a buyer of cloud services, interpret findings like this.

    Two Things These Reports Can Tell You

    • Quantification of vendor claims & normalization. Vendors will describe their products as “high performance.”  Well, compared to what?  And given that each vendor has a different hypervisor and hardware in their data center – in addition to different instance sizes, or a build to custom specs capability (Tier 3’s approach) – it is hard to gauge clock speeds across providers.  This particular report cuts through that.
    • Each cloud on this list is likely better than another competitor – your internal data center. Every cloud provider on this list is operating at scale, releasing new features often, and supporting a multi-tenant service.  As a result, they are almost certainly delivering better performance than what you have on-premise today.  And due to the expansive self-service offerings some of these providers offer, superior agility relative to your internal data center is a given.  The really interesting – and possibly confusing - thing?  Some of the vendors on this list
    ...

    Read on...

    Cloud IaaS Price/Performance Benchmarking – Part 1

    October 7, 2013
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Marketing

    It’s difficult for businesses to compare so many diverse players in the cloud.  To make the task a bit easier, the team at Cloud Spectator recently issued a useful report: “IaaS Performance and Value Analysis.”  View it here, registration required to download.

    At CenturyLink Cloud, we’ve always claimed to be a “high performance” cloud (who doesn’t?), so it is nice to see this validated by a third party.  A summary of findings that brought a smile to our faces:

    • #1 “Performance Leader” for overall system results
    • #1 performance leader for Disk and RAM
    • #2 performance leader for CPU and internal networking

    My personal favorite passage:

    UnixBench highlights the significant system performance difference among the top providers in the IaaS industry. The highest and lowest scorers show a difference of 4.7x in system performance; CenturyLink Cloud’s average UnixBench score is 2998, while Amazon EC2’s is 642.

    Results in visual form (image edited to highlight CenturyLink Cloud):

    Cloud Spectator - Results Summary

    There was considerable public chatter about these results, and industry analyst Ben Kepes wondered if these types of reports even matter. Since price/performance is only a single dimension of a cloud’s value, how should a buyer and consumer of cloud services use this type of information?

    In Part 2, we’ll build on his train...

    Read on...

    Cloud Developers & Resellers Get a Boost from CenturyLink Cloud Webhooks

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

    “Getting a little bit of the right information just ahead of when it’s needed is a lot more valuable than all the information in the world a month or a day later.” That quote – found in the book The Two Second Advantage by Vivek Ranadive and Kevin Maney – highlights a new reality where responsiveness can be a competitive advantage. Smart companies are building a responsive IT infrastructure where data isn’t just hoarded in massive repositories, but analyzed quickly and acted upon. How can you know more, faster and have better situational awareness?

    With an increasing amount of critical IT systems running in the cloud, there’s a need to know what’s happening and act on it. This month, CenturyLink Cloud introduced Webhooks, making us among the first public IaaS cloud providers to send real-time notifications to a web service endpoint. For this initial release, customers can set up Webhooks for events within accounts, users, and servers.

    When To Use This?

    Webhooks are relatively new idea, although already used by diverse web properties like Wordpress and Zoho. Let’s look at three different scenarios where CenturyLink Cloud Webhooks can lead to better decisions.

    Scenario #1 – Data Synchronization

    Polling is an inefficient way to retrieve data...

    Read on...


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