The 8 Steps to Offer Your Own Branded Enterprise Cloud

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

Are you an MSP, VAR, or systems integrator? Do you want to start offering cloud services to upsell existing customers, while attracting new ones? CenturyLink Cloud is here to help. Last week, we announced a Reseller Edition of our cloud and we offer unique expertise in partnering with companies that want to quickly add cloud services to their product portfolio. In this blog post, we’ll walk through 8 quick steps to follow in order to get up and running as a cloud reseller.

1. Investigate the market and select a reseller.

We recently did a reseller-focused webcast with the folks at Talkin’ Cloud and a spot survey showed that over 75% of attendees were actively looking for a cloud partner. Clearly, a large number of telcos, SIs, and regional service providers are scouring the market and aggressively assessing whom to partner with.

If you are looking for a partner, what should you be asking each vendor? How can you ensure you are partnering with an innovative, differentiated provider that can bring you new revenue over the long-haul? Here’s a great starting point:

Does the provider have a global set of data centers?

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: Your customers are more global than ever,...

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Codenvy Cloud IDE Now Directly Supports CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service PaaS

April 6, 2013
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

Just a couple weeks ago, we looked at how Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) helps developers rapidly build and deploy applications to the cloud. We also covered a new breed of cloud-based development environments (IDE) that developers can use to create and publish their web applications. Since then, the cloud-based IDE we featured – called Codenvy – has updated their product to support the CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service. In this post, we’ll walk through how to quickly and easily deploy and manage Platform as a Service applications from your web browser.

To start with, when users of Codenvy start a new web application project, they are asked which technology they want to use, and then which PaaS to deploy to. At this moment, the CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service is available for Java Web Application (WAR), Java Spring, and Ruby on Rails projects. Note that Platform as a Service works with more environments than these three, but these are the technologies supported via Codenvy.

Codenvy Cloud IDE

Once the user chooses the technology and corresponding PaaS, they choose a simple project template (if one exists for that technology), and are then asked for the management API endpoint of the Platform as a Service environment.

Codenvy Cloud IDE

The project...

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Quite possibly the best Rails tutorial in existence

April 4, 2013
By Originally Published On AppFog

One of the best things about learning Rails has been the community. It’s amazing to see how many great tutorials and guides and forms of documentation have been created out there for beginners, even absolute beginners (as I very, very recently was).

The guides section of the Ruby on Rails website itself was, of course, very helpful in walking me step by step through installing rails and walking me through the various files and folders associated with the directory of any Rails app. I highly recommend it. And this video from Jeffrey Way is the best resource I’ve found so far for making the jump from just feeling your way around Rails into actually doing something with it (a chasm that I’m hoping to cross very soon).

But the very best thing that I’ve found so far, which will be useful for both beginners and those entering a more intermediate phase, is Michael Hartl’s t tutorial on railstutorial.org. What makes this tutorial stand out for me is its thoroughness. Plenty of tutorials walk you through step by step, but Hartl’s tutorial deals with a variety of crucial issues from the very get-go, including writing your own tests and specs to a discussion of...

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It’s Hard to be Number One

April 1, 2013
By Originally Posted On AppFog

Now that PaaS has become the hot topic in the Cloud – and now that Enterprise customers are starting to sign those 9 figure contracts for PaaS providers – we’re starting to see the sort of negative marketing that has long been the trademark of Enterprise Software. This is sad, but inevitable. At present the negative marketing seems to largely be targeted at the leaders in the space and seems to largely consist of FUD.

While normally we would simply ignore this kind of thing – a recent post on the Apprenda blog about Cloud Foundry does, in our opinion, require a response. We have been partners with VMware and Cloud Foundry from early in Cloud Foundry’s existence. We are big fans of Cloud Foundry and AppFog is built to support Cloud Foundry. As such we are a part of the ecosystem that Sinclair talks about. Given his basic thesis, we should be worried sick about VMware and should be fighting to find different alternatives.

Nothing is further from the truth.

FUD: What VMware is doing with Cloud Foundry will collapse the ecosystem!

In looking at the post, the entire thesis is that “more cloud” is a bad thing and that by helping enterprises...

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Enterprise Cloud Monitoring, Made Simple

April 1, 2013
By Shantu Roy, Senior Product Manager

In the coming months, CenturyLink Cloud will launch new, enterprise monitoring capabilities, powered by ScienceLogic and New Relic.  We wrote a guest blog post for ScienceLogic, describing our approach to monitoring, check it out here.

...

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Everybody Loves PaaS; PaaS is Failing

April 1, 2013
By Originally Published On AppFog

In the beginning, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) was created for developers, not for enterprises. Developers could deploy and test applications within minutes, not days, weeks or months. PaaS enabled developers to sidestep the need to invest in a platform of their own (or mess with jumping the IT queue). And Developers found it good. Agility and velocity became the primary drivers for moving workloads off-premise and into public clouds. As a result, PaaS rapidly became the preferred platform for cutting-edge startups and ambitious developers within small and large organizations.

Low introductory prices made it easy for developers and executives to adopt PaaS as their platform; and everyone enthusiastically embraced the agility and velocity they realized through PaaS. Even corporate IT executives saw the upside of PaaS: faster application development reflects well on them. But they saw a downside, too, especially as business units went off the reservation for PaaS suppliers. The lack of central control complicated management of corporate system and created potentially serious liabilities because the integration points were unclear and complicated. The first PaaS providers ignored all of these concerns, even claiming that incumbent systems “didn’t exist” because they weren’t focused on enterprises.

But these days, early PaaS success is making the...

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Find Cloud Resources Faster with CenturyLink Cloud’s New Global Search

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

Customer-driven innovation is baked into our company’s DNA. We’re always looking for ways to help customers create and manage enterprise-class environments on our platform.

One thing they’ve told us in recent months is that they want to be able to quickly find all of the diverse resources they’ve created in the CenturyLink Cloud cloud. We heard that request loud and clear and just released Global Search which is a unique capability that dramatically improves your user experience.

What is Global Search? It’s a platform-wide utility that lets you search for accounts, users, servers, Groups, networks, cloud orchestration Blueprints, Blueprint packages, and IP addresses – all from a single search box that is always displayed at the top of each page in our Control Portal.

Global Search

The IT Professional Scenario

This powerful feature works with partial matches, which means that you can type a word like “Exchange” and get back any CenturyLink Cloud resource in your account hierarchy that is related to a Microsoft Exchange mail server. Below, see that this particular search returned some servers that are running Exchange Server, groups residing in different data centers, an account with the word “Exchange” in the description field, and a Blueprint.

Our design team studied the best search...

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The Simplest Way to Build and Deploy Web Applications to the Cloud? Use PaaS and Cloud IDEs!

March 17, 2013
By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

Web applications are a dominant part of most enterprise IT portfolios and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) products offer a compelling way to easily deploy and manage these applications. However, PaaS have proven tricky for vendors to explain, and therefore difficult for customers to understand. In this post, we’ll discuss the reason you should consider using PaaS products, what CenturyLink Cloud has to offer, and how you can deploy a web application to a PaaS in a matter of minutes.

Benefits of PaaS

What exactly is PaaS? Basically, it’s a way of delivering an application platform as a service. Developers don’t interface directly with infrastructure (e.g. servers, networks, load balancers) but rather, focus on building and deployment applications through a set of exposed services in a managed fabric. PaaS simplifies the deployment and management of modern web applications while making those applications more resilient and functional. How can PaaS add value to your organization? Let’s drill into some specifics:

  *Reduce server sprawl with a centralized host for web applications. How many web servers are sitting relatively idle in your data center because they are only running a handful of applications? Server sprawl can be a major issue as each IT project requisitions its...

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Six Interesting Things from Cloud Connect

March 10, 2013
By Jared Ruckle

Cloud Connect, last week in Santa Clara, offered an insightful look on the state of the industry, with perspectives from analysts, big name vendors, and startups.  Here are a few things that caught our eye in the week that was.

The Enterprise Cloud Adoption Survey Summary from Everest Group.  Done in conjunction with the organizers of Cloud Connect, the survey of 3 segments (cloud buyers, cloud service providers, and cloud advisors) offers a reality check on where the market is today, compared to the future-looking perspectives that are common in emerging spaces like this one.  One of the more interesting highlights that mirrors our experience:

Public cloud providers may need to modify their communication on the cost benefits of adoption from a pure cost/unit conversation to one that is more focused around lower TCO and ROI

The findings also paint a positive picture for platform-as-a-service (PaaS), indicating that a strong majority of survey respondents are already using PaaS, or plan to in the near future.  Check out the whole survey here.

Q&A with Joe Weinman of Telx.  Against conventional wisdom, Joe has long predicted that hybrid clouds will be the eventual end state of cloud computing.  Our own Richard Seroter catches up with Joe,...

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Docker and the Future of the PaaS Layer

March 4, 2013
By Originally Published On AppFog

You know what’s pretty easy nowadays? Throwing a bunch of processes onto a server running somewhere far away. Dozens. Thousands. Millions. As many as you want. This was really, exasperatingly hard just a few years ago. But Amazon Web Service, CenturyLink, and other players have come along to make this pretty painless.

But you know what’s still really hard? Making those processes completely self-contained and yet running on one kernel and manageable from a single interface. This is the problem that Docker was meant to solve.

Brief intro to Docker

Docker chose to address this problem by building a developer-friendly abstraction layer on top of Linux containers (LXC). LXC is a powerful concept, but it simply wasn’t built as an intuitive interface. It’s a pain to use and prohibitively complicated for anyone but the most adept Linux power users.

And so the idea of enabling developers of all stripes to actually use them in a way that gets rid of tons of conceptual overhead and streamlines the use of containers into an actual runtime that makes real sense amounts to a massive win over the more low-level containerization tools that already exist.

Docker takes LXC and constructs a set of basic commands around it, commands...

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Why JSON will continue to push XML out of the picture

March 4, 2013
By Originally Published On AppFog

The world’s digital infrastructure is currently characterized by a plethora of data interchange formats. It’s not the least bit surprising that such a multiplicity undergirds things at the moment. The internet is scarcely a generation old, while the “Internet of Things” and “Big Data” more closely resemble regulative ideals than realities. But I nonetheless believe that there are strong, discernible historical tendencies currently at work in this field, tendencies that strongly favor JSON over others.

Ten years ago, XML was the primary data interchange format. When it came on the scene, it was a breath of fresh air and a vast improvement over the truly appalling SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language). It enabled people to do previously unthinkable things, like exchange Microsoft Office documents across HTTP connections. With all the dissatisfaction surrounding XML, it’s easy to forget just how crucial it was in the evolution of the web in its capacity as a “Swiss Army Knife of the internet.”

But it’s no secret that in the last few years, a bold transformation has been afoot in the world of data interchange. The more lightweight, bandwidth-non-intensive JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) has emerged not just as an alternative to XML, but rather as a...

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Load Balancing, High Availability, and Disaster Recovery: What They Are and How We Can Help

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

It’s easy for cloud customers to get confused about the roles and responsibilities of their internal team and their cloud vendor. That confusion is especially evident when it comes to application availability and business continuity planning. How does disaster recovery differ from high availability? Does my cloud provider automatically load balance my application servers? The answers to these questions are critical, but sometimes overlooked until a crisis occurs. In this post, we’ll talk about load balancing, high availability, and disaster recovery in the cloud, and what the CenturyLink Cloud’s cloud infrastructure has to offer.

Load Balancing

What is it?

Wikipedia describes load balancing) as:

Load balancing is a computer networking method to distribute workload across multiple computers or a computer cluster, network links, central processing units, disk drives, or other resources, to achieve optimal resource utilization, maximize throughput, minimize response time, and avoid overload. Using multiple components with load balancing, instead of a single component, may increase reliability through redundancy).

You commonly see this technique employed in web applications where multiple web servers work together to handle inbound traffic.

There are at least two reasons why load balancing is employed:

  • The required capacity is too large for a single machine. When running processes that consume a large

...

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