CenturyLink Cloud VPN Client Service Updates

July 6, 2012
By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

Many of you have noticed the upgrade of your CenturyLink Cloud Client VPN service, which allows you to connect to the secure network that contains your servers and resources. Read on to learn more about the service and the enhancements made with this update.

Overview

Client VPN enables users to connect to their secure isolated network. Each account has its own isolated VPN service provided at no charge. This built-in service is managed by CenturyLink Cloud’s highly trained network operation center. If you have any issues please look at the status system or contact support.

To complete the Client VPN initial configuration, simply download the certificate—used when connecting to the VPN service—or complete the two-factor authentication that we’ve linked to below. To learn more about ways to connect such as persistent VPN connections or direct connections please go here.

Current Limitations

There are only a few limitations on this service as it is based on the OpenVPN project.

  • Maximum concurrent users: 20 (if you need additional users, please contact support)
  • Maximum connection: 1Gbps

Performance and Tuning Enhancements

We’ve made a host of performance and tuning enhancements to the Client VPN service that will result in a better user experience. We decreased CPU utilization on each unique instance from 80%...

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Control System Updates!

July 6, 2012
By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

We are always working to resolve bugs and add features to the control system. This update is a major bug update and here are the items that have been fixed in this build!

  • Incorrect calculation of total server resources allocated to an account which was causing errors on server create.
  • Create snapshot button was available when it should not be.
  • Archived Lab Groups appeared in the Lab Group DDL on new server create.
  • Fixed error that occurred when creating new Accounts (no bug was created for this).
  • Added Account Alias validation to ensure that duplicate Account Aliases do not get created.
  • Fixed the DateTime display on the Lab Scheduled Task list to be customer time zone aware, as opposed to displaying in UTC
  • DNS Management errors on updating and creating aliases

If you have any questions please feel free to let us know.

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Control System Updates Build 672

July 6, 2012
By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

Build 672 has gone live with new features and bug fixes for the vpn service and control system. Here are some of the key new features:

  • Managing VPN Max Concurrent Users): You now have the ability to control the number of concurrent users and control your costs. In our system the first concurrent connection is always at no cost and anything after that is at $15.00 / Month. Now you can go in and change this level at any time. So if you need to add more concurrent users go to control.tier3.com > network tab > vpn > edit vpn settings.
  • Two Factor Authentication with Active Directory: Now you can configure your vpn service to do two factor authentication via active directory. This will require the user to have not only a certificate but will be prompted for their active directory credentials.
  • New Templates: Added Windows XP 32-bit, Windows Vista 32-bit, Windows Vista 64-bit, and Windows 7 32-bit templates.
  • Welcome Screen: We have added your CPU, Memory, and Storage counts to the welcome page.

There was a total of 20 bugs that also were fixed in the current build. As always if you need anything please let us know as we are constantly adding new...

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CenturyLink Cloud's Enterprise Cloud Turns SysAdmins into Office Heroes

July 6, 2012
By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

Today is SysAdmin Day, and we at CenturyLink Cloud would like to show our appreciation of system administrators around the world. To commemorate the occasion, we’ve made a comic to show how CenturyLink Cloud’s enterprise cloud platform can save admins time and effort—and turn them into office heroes.

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New Features, Fixes Arrive in Today’s Software Release

July 6, 2012
By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

CenturyLink Cloud has settled into a nice release cadence and today marks the end of another development cycle. Our platform is being updated frequently, and today’s release is accompanied by a new “release notes” process initiated by our product management team. Immediately upon each platform release, the CenturyLink Cloud team will publish a set of release notes to the Knowledge Base. The August 1st release notes outline the six new features and fifty minor fixes that were part of this push.

Let’s take a look at two of the new platform features and see how they make our users more efficient.

Add multiple instances of the same software package to a Blueprint

Customers use blueprints, which is CenturyLink Cloud’s server orchestration technology, to model complex server environments. One key aspect of blueprints is the ability to include software and scripts in the build process. Imagine building an n-tier system environment made up of web servers and database servers. Developers and system administrators use blueprints to create a template made up of all the server configurations and software that define that system. That blueprint can then be deployed again and again with little effort.

Up until now, it was difficult to add the same software/script...

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Newly-Announced Environment Engine is Turning Heads

July 6, 2012
By

We knew that Environment Engine, our recently-announced cloud environment deployment solution, would be a big hit with our customers. After all, by automating the design, discovery, configuration, and deployment of best practice-optimized “Blueprints,” Environment Engine makes it easier than ever to roll out environments and applications to the cloud. But it’s not just customers who are recognizing the benefits of Environment Engine: now the media is taking notice, too. Tier 1 Research reports “customers will like what the Environment Engine can do,” saying the toolset represents a “significant” step forward for CenturyLink Platform. A platform that, according to the research group, is built using “solid development practices” which allow developers to automate anything that can be done through the web interface via a robust API. Even technical users, however, will appreciate that the GUI is “friendly and clean, and almost has an Apple-like quality to its straightforward intuitiveness.” According to an article published by Read Write Web and picked up by the Wall Street Journal, Environment Engine “is uniquely aimed at enabling the creation and use of best practice templates… This saves costs and enables applications to be deployed faster, more consistently and with less possibility of human error.” Moreover,...

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New Relic Monitoring Comes to CenturyLink Cloud’s Enterprise Cloud Platform

July 6, 2012
By

New Relic has made their technology available as a Blueprint on the CenturyLink Platform, resulting in a simple yet robust deployment and monitoring system that is available at the push of a few buttons. New Relic Standard is accessible through CenturyLink Cloud’s management control portal or its API, making it easy for organizations to monitor end-user experiences and PHP, Ruby, Java, .NET, and Python applications in real-time. Watch the introductory video to learn more about CenturyLink Cloud’s New Relic Blueprint:New Relic has done a tremendous job of taking the monitoring to a new level. Monitoring has always been a core offering of the CenturyLink Platform, but now that monitoring holistically looks at the application—the bread and butter of a solution—thanks to New Relic’s technology. You used to get network data, SNMP gathered CPU, Memory and IO data, as well as the database and its handling of queries. At that point you had to look at these disparate forms of data to infer what could be wrong with your app, finally trying multiple things to see if the pain points disappeared. New Relic turns this process on its head to provide the end user with very valuable data with all the...

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Moving to the Cloud? Better Use a Checklist

July 6, 2012
By

Checklists—pilots use them. So do doctors and construction engineers. And the humble checklist was the reason for a 47% drop in death rate across eight hospitals in 2008. Professionals trust checklists to save lives, but they’re just as valuable in business. That’s why we’ve put together two essential checklists to guide your company’s migration to the cloud. With our Enterprise Cloud Provider Checklist, you’ll learn what measurable qualifications to look for in a cloud computing partner—such as a five 9s SLA covering servers, network, and storage; and automated 14-day rolling backups. Meanwhile our Cloud Migration Considerations Checklist will help you assess your company’s cloud readiness and keep in mind all the most relevant details of moving to the cloud. Download your free checklists below: - Your Enterprise Cloud Provider Checklist - Your Cloud Migration Considerations Checklist

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When Provisioning Breaks, Blueprints Shine

July 6, 2012
By

There is nothing worse than getting that email or error warning you that provisioning has failed. And inevitably this happens at the very last stages of getting an environment automated.

You ask yourself: _What happened? Why did it fail? And then: Did I build my own logging? Did the person that built the orchestration provide logging (and, if so, where is it)?_ After asking yourself all of these questions, you realize that the orchestration/provisioning layer only shows you a simple “failure” message and no details of where it failed or why. Frustrating.

#### With Blueprints, even failure is amazing…

“Blueprints” is CenturyLink Cloud’s environment templating engine. It allows you to combine virtual machine templates, infrastructure tasks, script packages, and software packages to create a fully deployable environment—such as building a Microsoft Exchange server environment with just the click of a button. The other Blueprint feature that is simply incredible is the debugging and details that you have access to when deploying a Blueprint. This includes access to not only the status of the deployment, but also the tasks being executed. If something fails, you know where and why. ![](/assets/images/blog/BP-1-252x300.png "Deployment Failure") Here is an example of a blueprint being executed that fails on step...

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Building Servers with the CenturyLink Cloud API

July 6, 2012
By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

Any service provider worth its salt has to have an API. It’s one of the first questions we ask our providers and understandably one we get asked a lot as well. With our latest release we also updated our API, so I figured what better way to show off the API that with a sample of how easy it is to build a server.

First using Visual Studio 2010 we’ll install RestSharp using NuGet (if you don’t have NuGet installed stop reading and do yourself a favor and install it).

Install-Package RestSharp

Then create a rest client pointing at the CenturyLink Cloud API.

`private RestClient Client = new RestClient("https://api.ctl.io/rest");

Now we are ready to call the API. Once you create an API user in your account you can use it to logon and store the authentication in the client cookies.

`var request = new RestRequest("/auth/logon"); request.Method = Method.POST; request.RequestFormat = DataFormat.Json; request.AddBody(new { APIKey = "b3b41e0818ad4dfdb9d43c964f680de1", Password = "plAtform6{+*" }); ` `var response = Client.Execute(request); var content = DeserializeContent(response); if (content.StatusCode != 0) throw new ApplicationException(content.Message); ` `if (Client.CookieContainer == null) Client.CookieContainer = new System.Net.CookieContainer(); ` `response.Cookies .Select(c => new Cookie(c.Name, c.Value, c.Path, c.Domain)) .ToList() .ForEach(c => Client.CookieContainer.Add(c));`

You’ll notice a few helpers methods I created to deal with deserializing the JSON response into a...

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Automated provisioning of VPN

July 6, 2012
By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

Today we released automated provisioning of vpn services for our users. This is very exciting as it is part of our total goal of full automation and self servicing on our platform. Now with a single click of creating your server we will build out your VPN services without any configuration or setup from you all on demand. We have been working on this for a while and have been using this product under the covers which up until now was just for testing. If you already have VPN services with us then you will migrated over the next 6 months and someone from your account team will contact you. Here is a quick run down of the features:

  • No configuration required! All of the routing and setup is done for you automatically!
  • Works with Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
  • First concurrent user is free!
  • It will automatically build out your vpn server when you build your first server.
  • You can add or remove users via the control system
  • Only 25.00 per concurrent user and bandwidth costs per month.
  • Each customer gets their own instance which gives better performance and isolation than traditional models.
  • It is based on standard Open VPN which is widely tested and supported.
  • Can
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API Documentation is now Online!

July 6, 2012
By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

We have just released a new version of our API and have decided to just make it available online so you wont have to ask for it! The API has been built along side all of the features of the platform with the idea that if you can do it in the control system you can do it via our API. The API currently supports Xml, JSON, and SOAP which is far more featured than any of the other API’s that we have seen out there. Go check it out: www.ctl.io/api-docs/v2 Create an API user here: https://control.tier3.com/security/api As always, anything you need or see that we could improve on let us know!

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