Behind the Scenes: The CenturyLink Cloud Connect Experience

March 1, 2016
By Dana Bowlin, Product Owner

ConnectHave you ever wanted to have a forum where you can ask in-depth questions about how a company addresses similar issues that you experience within your business, and how other companies are keeping up with the rapid pace of change in IT services? Or have you wanted to attend a deep-dive tour into a specific technology, product, or service that goes beyond a web page experience? We created the CenturyLink Connect Team to provide just that. Not only for others to connect with us, but for us to connect with the IT community. The Connect Team provides a tailored experience for briefings, site tours, event support and speakers, technical learning workshops, and deep-dive sessions into sharing how the latest technologies are solving real-world business problems in the digital economy.

When the team began working with customers, partners, and prospects we noticed a common interest. Businesses were interested in the technical details of how we work, how others were solving problems, automation, integration, and trends seen within our customer base. To address this need we created the Cloud Briefing Center which opened in late 2014. We assembled the Connect Team to provide a real-world experience for sharing knowledge, enabling others to solve...

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Capacity Planning for Cloud Platforms, Part 1

February 29, 2016
By Ryan Kirk, Principal Data Scientist, CenturyLink Cloud

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What is capacity planning for the cloud, why does this problem matter?

The cloud promises to provide scale-free access to a variety of platforms, services, and infrastructures. This is especially true for customers who want to trade the expensive “cost of assets” and their management for the much smaller “incremental just-in-time” ability to grow their own applications and technologies, as dictated by the requirements of their business. The need for an underlying set of computational resources is common to all of the offerings on cloud ecosystems. Essentially, providers require a solution that can accurately predict the projected levels of demand needs to coincide with current operational processes to aid in capacity planning and load.

Capacity planning for cloud platforms is both similar to and different from “on-premises” capacity planning. It is similar in that we can project our future expectations based upon our current utilization patterns. However, it is different for at least two substantial reasons. Firstly, cloud platforms represent a large, often global network of interconnected devices - this means that accurate forecasts initially require building a map of the network and devices based both upon device hierarchy and device function. Secondly, cloud platforms allow the consumption of each customer to...

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Automation, Alice, and the Endeavor Towards Better Customer Service

February 25, 2016
By Jessica Weber

Customer Service Acronym Image

Customer service, or a company's lack of customer service, is a detail overlooked by many businesses. For example, think about the last time you called a credit card company's customer service line. After being routed through the standard "Press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish" system of questions, you were connected to a representative. Depending on the reason for your call, you may have been transferred to several different representatives, each one trying to solve your issue using varying levels of background knowledge on the subject. This same scenario holds true for the customer service lines of most organizations, including IT help desks.

Make room for the CenturyLink Cloud Customer Care Team. The lead, Michael Talbert, has spent many years operating behind-the-scenes on customer service teams such as this. You may remember reading about Michael from this piece, which showcased his team and the ideas behind their formation and process. He's experienced the same frustration at the multiple-step process described above that may or may not end in a resolution of the problem. So, when he joined our team at CenturyLink, his first order of business was to build a team (and a process) that took the commonly-experienced frustration away. He...

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The Joys of Doing Lots More for Less: Enjoying Desktops as a Service (DaaS) with VDIworks & CenturyLink Cloud

February 24, 2016
By Muhammad Umair, VP of Software for VDIworks

Periodically, we turn over control of the CenturyLink Cloud blog to members of our certified technology Ecosystem to share how they leverage our platform to enable customer success. This week’s guest author from the Cloud Marketplace Provider Program is Muhammad Umair, VP of Software for VDIWorks.

VDIworks Logo

Desktop-as-a-Service(DaaS) with VDIworks and CenturyLink Cloud

With tens of thousands of licenses sold globally, VDIworks’ VDP is an end-to-end VDI management system that enables DaaS for your business.

By now you have probably read dozens, if not hundreds of articles touting the benefits of virtualized desktops. Most pundits agree virtual desktops lower costs of IT support through enhanced proactive management processes, mitigation of unplanned downtime via more reliable services, extend equipment lifecycles, and make it possible to achieve a nearly 50% reduction in desktop delivery costs. Imagine how that would feel.

What small, medium, or even large enterprise CIO wouldn’t relish the elation of knowing their organization had achieved a level of competence that eludes so many of their peers and competitors? Your organization, regardless of its size, can achieve a transition from the old PC-centric model of desktop delivery to employees and turn to a modern, state-of-the-art computing workspace. With cloud-based Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), you can...

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CenturyLink Cloud Delivers IPS Anywhere

February 23, 2016
By Chris Meyer-Product Analyst, Client Security

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Recently a major vulnerability in the open source GNU C Library (aka ‘glibc’) was disclosed to the public. We discussed in a post on February 19th, how to tell if you were affected by the glibc vulnerability and how the CenturyLink Cloud platform was largely unaffected by the issue. For many users and providers, however, that was not the case. Despite a patch being issued in parallel with the disclosure, this revelation undoubtedly kicked-off a scramble in IT organizations of all sizes and industries to evaluate the level of exposure this vulnerability presents within their overall environment.

For most companies the ability to estimate quickly and accurately their level of risk to a vulnerability like glibc just doesn't exist. Even if a company has a robust threat evaluation process, IT personnel usually aren't equipped to answer the real question of whether the cost -- both tangible and intangible -- and risk associated with performing emergency maintenance and patching is a necessary or a worthwhile investment. Sometimes, a patch isn't available at the time of the disclosure and doesn’t have that option. Essentially, IT personnel can know that the company is vulnerable, yet there isn’t anything they can do about it. Either...

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The Customer-Driven Cloud

February 22, 2016
By Michael Talbert

CDC

CenturyLink Cloud is focused on becoming the most customer-driven cloud service provider in the marketplace. While CenturyLink has always operated as a customer-driven company, we are passionate about continuously improving the way our customers – both current and prospective – interact with us.

Technology enables us to stay connected like never before and provides the opportunity to reduce the time and distance between us. So communicating with the most important asset we have, our customers, is only a few clicks away. Last quarter, we posted a blog about how CenturyLink’s approach to customer care is different. This quarter, we’re reinforcing the simple mechanisms that are available when you need help - and that we want to hear from you! In fact, we’ll take your question and respond to it -- even if you’re not yet a customer. Unlike some other cloud providers in the marketplace, customers and non-customers don’t need to pay us extra to ask questions.

Within the CenturyLink Platform, Cloud Products and Hosting organization, we manage our organizational structure to maximize customer and operational responsiveness and support agile product development, that is truly driven by customer feedback. We know that our success is predicated...

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How to Tell if You Are Affected by glibc Vulnerability

February 19, 2016
By Steve White, Director of Security and Compliance

security

Popular media outlets are reporting a new vulnerability that was recently discovered in "glibc" which is a key component in most modern Linux systems. For background, you can read the details of the original discovery and the summary information on the risk rating for this vulnerability.

The CenturyLink Cloud® platform is largely unaffected by this issue. We have patched our DNS servers and the default DNS servers used by customer virtual machines on our platform. Customers running their own DNS servers on Linux-based virtual machines or customers not using the default CenturyLink Cloud DNS servers should apply the released patches to these servers as soon as possible.

For customers using the CenturyLink Cloud® Intrusion Prevention Service (IPS) your hosts already have detection enabled for any attempts to exploit this vulnerability. This particular signature is set to "detect only" rather than "block" in order to prevent unintended impact to production services. The IPS system will send you an alert using the configured mechanisms if there are any attempts at an exploit. We recommend you update the operating system on your servers according to your standard maintenance cycle. You can learn more by reading our IPS Anywhere post.

For CenturyLink Cloud® customers using VMs with...

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The Function of Quality Assurance (QA) with the Internet of Things

February 4, 2016
By Jonathan Townsend

Internet of Things CTL

These are exciting times for tech-driven integration. The Internet of Things is in fact taking over the world in both concept and practice, perpetually changing the way industries work together. The IoT has spurred the rapid evolution of ideas that affect our day-to-day activities and will undoubtedly accelerate the tech world's capability to make digital ecosystems 'of the future' a present-day reality.

According to Gartner, "The Internet of Things installed base will grow to 26 billion units by 2020. IoT product and service suppliers will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion, mostly in services, in 2020. It will result in $1.9 trillion in global economic value-add through sales into diverse end markets.”

At the core of IoT is the principle of using sensors to connect smart technologies with everyday life. The practice of mining data from the sensors that make up an IoT ecosystem is what ushers forth and shapes a brave new world full of technologies that automate processes, expedite progress, connect industries, and ultimately, improve overall user experiences.

The chances are great that you've seen the widening array of embedded applications that make the IoT a tangible thing. For example, wearable technologies are redefining the fitness world; word processing algorithms and...

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CenturyLink Cloud Launches Relational Database Service on CenturyLink Cloud Platform

January 26, 2016
By Christine Parr, Product Owner - Relational DB

Relational DataBase Service Overview

The CenturyLink Relational Database (DB) team is excited to announce the General Availability of Relational DB, a MySQL-compatible Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) product that has been in beta since August of 2015. This product complements the CenturyLink Cloud® portfolio and reiterates our commitment to cloud native applications by providing developers instant access to a high-performance, enterprise-hardened MySQL-compatible database instance built on the Hyperscale platform from CenturyLink Cloud.

Designed for Enterprise and SMB customers, our Relational DB Service includes:

• Available in VA1, UC1 and IL1; global expansion throughout 2016

• Flexible provisioning options – choose any combination of CPU, RAM and storage within the platform limits

• Scale CPU, RAM, and storage independently of each other as your needs grow through self-service automation

• Daily backups with configurable backup time

• In data center replication option with auto-failover for high-availability

• SSL Certificate provided to encrypt connection and data in transit

• Access to REST APIs

• Built on enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure

Enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure is critical for database performance. The CenturyLink Cloud Platform powered by Hyperscale servers out-performed other high profile competitors in an independent benchmark study by CloudHarmony. By leveraging this platform, Relational DB benefits from SSD storage which is local to the host. This maximizes storage...

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CenturyLink St. Louis User Group Mobile App Launch with DoubleDutch.me

January 25, 2016
By Bob Stolzberg

Pivotal LogoThis past November, the CenturyLink St. Louis User Group (#CTLSTL) hosted their second CloudWalk event. For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, CloudWalks are technical events where our users and customers get together to experience our cloud platform in a hands-on, learning environment. While there, technical experts guide everyone, technical and non-technical alike, in a group development session.

At the CloudWalk, the focus was on showcasing how easily available and deployable the open-source Cloud Foundry instance is on the CenturyLink cloud platform via hands-on exercises. Every participant was encouraged to bring a laptop and dive into the development. We covered a lot of ground, starting with a set-up of the Cloud Foundry environment, followed by a tutorial on deploying applications and then managing and scaling apps within the environment. We also discussed how companies are using Cloud Foundry to help their businesses thrive. And of course, there were cool prizes and excellent food to go along with all the learning.

CloudWalk Learning Session

After the CloudWalk, the new #CTLSTL User Group held a launch party with help from sponsors -- Dynatrace and A10 Networks --to showcase some new local tech from Aisle411, introduce some community opportunities from CoderDojoSTL (kids programming), and listen to some...

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How to Ansible with Runner

January 25, 2016
By Chris Kent - Product Owner, Runner

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Introduction

Here at CenturyLink Cloud, we use a technology called Ansible pretty extensively throughout our platform. Ansible is an IT automation and orchestration engine that enables configuration management, provisioning, deployment, as well as many other IT needs. Runner wraps all of Ansible’s goodness into a Job Service, along with other micro services such as SSH, VPN, status, queuing, and scheduling. Next we'll look at what Runner is and how you would use it.

What Is Runner?

Runner is a new product from CenturyLink Cloud that enables fast, easy automation and orchestration on the CenturyLink Cloud Platform, as well as third-party cloud providers and on-premises infrastructure and devices. Runner provides the ability to quickly provision and modify resources on any environment, and gives users a true Hybrid IT solution, regardless of where their resources are.

On a more granular level, Runner is an automation and orchestration engine that we exposed as a service, and coupled with services mentioned below, enhance the Runner experience. Runner, at its core, is an Ansible engine. On top of that engine exists several other custom services and APIs we've created, many of which were created in tandem with the Runner job service to enhance the job execution capabilities.

Here is a...

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As the Cloud Turns

January 15, 2016
By Jim Battenberg - Director, Platform User Enablement

Platform

The new year often brings about a time of reflection, coupled with an anticipation of what’s to come. Along those lines, we wanted to share with you some key highlights of 2015 and things to look forward to in 2016. 2015 was a busy year at CenturyLink Cloud, as we expanded our global presence, completed hundreds of product and feature launches on a 15-day cadence, and were recognized by industry experts as a leading cloud service provider.

Leading Industry Analyst Firms Recognize CenturyLink's 2015 Cloud Achievements

Frost

Gartner

  • Gartner granted us “Visionary” status in their annual Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service. (1)

  • Gartner also named us a “Leader” in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting, Asia Pacific, 2015. (2)

Platform Highlights of 2015

CIOsecurity

...

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