Managed OS Services -- Working Hard to be Better for You

January 13, 2016
By Ben Swoboda

By design, clicking the “Make Managed” button while configuring a server is very simple. It may be hard to believe, but that effortless task activates thousands of trained technicians, worldwide, to help you with your server (and you’re only paying them pennies per hour!). Everything after that – the ongoing support - should be as effortless as clicking that button.

Think of all the data a technician must consider to serve a customer: sales data, product data, customer data, network, monitoring, communication, change management, performance, and incident histories, just to name a few. The challenge is to funnel all that information to the technician supporting you in a way that makes sense. We’ve lived up to that challenge for years, but at CenturyLink, we are constantly striving to do a better job for our customers.

Our Operations team creates and updates internal tools that allow them to serve our customers in the best ways possible. They utilize customizable tools which enable them to respond quicker, more efficiently, and with greater impact. Here are some recent updates that we made to our tools so that we can continue to improve our service.

Monitoring Updates

Recent improvements to our monitoring solution eliminate waste and streamline processes....

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Six Data Backup Basics - Not Just for Cloud

January 7, 2016
By Mark Lee

Simple Backup ServiceLet's face it, you never know when the need will arise to restore or recover your data. We’ve all “been there, done that”, or we have it in the back of our mind that we’ll need to do it someday. However, the odds are that the need to restore won’t be triggered because of a disaster or a hack, but more likely because of common reasons such as: system/user error, corrupt data, deleted data, new environments, a legal hold request, or a Governance, Risk Management, or Compliance (GRC) program which requires that the data must be restored as proof that the data is being retained.

Whatever the case may be, the key to understanding data restoration is knowing that data backups are taking place to begin with; which means planning, implementation, and execution. These tasks can be daunting and riddled with details, which is why they are typically assigned to an operations team (including the planning). However, there are other contributors to backup planning: business owners, product owners, application/database owners, etc., especially when they have a vested interest in restoring or recovering after an issue or event has occurred. Naturally, you want (and need) the correct data restored as soon as...

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How the Internet of Things is Taking Over the World

January 4, 2016
By Jonathan Townsend

IOT cloud

What is the Internet of Things?

We live in complicated times governed by the interconnectivity of processes, schedules, tasks, and systems. Activities are constantly monitored, analyzed, and calibrated to maximize efficiency. But what does all this connectedness and integration amount to? In short -- the Internet of Things (IoT), which we can think of as the intelligent approach to connect devices, integrate systems, and improve networks by leveraging and mining data gathered from reporting tools and sensors in physical objects and machines.

In essence, the Internet of Things is taking over the world.

Think of the IoT as an umbrella that forms a connected web of collective communications, operations, and procedures in an ever-growing array of industries. It does this all in an effort to make our lives easier, by mining data to be streamlined in a more automated and efficient world. In 2014, Gartner cited that the Internet of Things was the year’s most-hyped technology. But what does Gartner's (an American market research and advisory firm) message really mean?

But Just How is the IoT Taking Over the World?

Starting with the seemingly mundane task of waking up, imagine your alarm clock triggering a series of processes to help expedite your morning routine. Televisions...

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Cloudberry Lab Presents: Fast & Secure Cloud Storage on CenturyLink Cloud

December 21, 2015
By Jacob Himmelstein

CloudBerry-logo

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 Jacob Himmelstein, Partner Manager for CloudBerry Lab.

CloudBerry Lab has integrated their backup technology with the CenturyLink Cloud platform. This integration allows the user to achieve rapid time-to-value for this Backup to Cloud Object Storage solution.

CLC platform

Solution Overview

The evolution of cloud technology saw cloud storage as a great tool to offload on-premise storage economics into the cloud. Thanks to ever-increasing Internet bandwidth and declining storage prices, keeping backups in the cloud has become a viable alternative to traditional on-site data storage for SMBs. Many companies often overlook key considerations when it comes to online backup, with Cloudberry Lab for CenturyLink Cloud, the user can be assured that important components are available, such as:

Reliable Cloud Storage that you control: When moving backup data off-site, a company should ensure the cloud storage service is reliable, cost-effective, yet high-performing. With CloudBerry Backup, you backup to customer-owned CenturyLink Cloud Storage, which you fully control and manage. Automate files and folders backup from your Windows desktop to the CenturyLink...

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Anti-virus is Not Enough!

December 17, 2015
By Kevin White

In today's growing market, we are seeing customers of all sizes migrate to the cloud for a variety of reasons. The cloud is certainly showing its value in the market, from the small developer looking for a free, disposable, or cost efficient server to large corporate customers looking to optimize IT agility and expenses.

Unfortunately, whether it's cloud or traditional managed services, many clients opt for nothing more than an anti-virus application and perhaps a firewall to cover their information security compliance requirements. However, as attacks grow more sophisticated and Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) grow more prevalent, using nothing but anti-virus and a firewall can leave gaps in your security profile, exposing you and your customers to unnecessary risks.

To get an idea of the risks you might face, consider this article - MySQL servers hijacked with malware to perform DDoS attacks. In this case, the attacker was able to upload a Trojan Horse application directly into a database, most likely through a SQL injection. An Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), unlike an anti-virus application, would have detected the SQL injection attempt and blocked it at the web interface. However, because the system was inadequately protected, the attacker slipped the Trojan Horse past...

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An End to the Platform Wars: Cloud Foundry Rising

December 16, 2015
By Jared Ruckle

Vendor Lock-In Withers

As long as there have been IT vendors, there has been worry about vendor lock-in from buyers. Businesses squirm at the notion of having data and systems stuck with a particular provider over time, without an easy out.

Public cloud infrastructure, and more specifically, add-on tech from cloud brokers (remember them?) promised to alleviate this anxiety. So did OpenStack, with lukewarm results so far, years after the original promise.

To date, tinkering with interoperability for cloud has been a non-starter for businesses. Once again, the effort to achieve compatibility just hasn’t been worth it.

A New Hope

Now, containers and application services offer the legit possibility of vanquishing the lock-in "boogeyman" once and for all. Why might this time be different? Ruthless commodification is creeping up the stack, where nearly everything besides the actual code the developer is writing can be operated, managed, and maintained by a 3rd party on the cheap.

Which brings us to today’s news regarding Cloud Foundry Certification. This is a big development for enterprises striving to remain relevant as software gobbles the world. Cloud Foundry Certification ensures that application code running in one Cloud Foundry service will run seamlessly in another. Providers who display the Cloud Foundry Certification...

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Hybrid IT: Why Cloud Delivery Matters

December 16, 2015
By David Shacochis

In meeting with customers and partners over the past several months, I hear one question on a regular basis: "We like the flexibility of your Hybrid IT portfolio, but why are you building a public cloud?" As recently stated by our CTO, we are committed to a next generation cloud user experience for the delivery of our primary business: managed services across data center and network .

To understand why we are using this approach, it’s helpful to think about the writings of Nick Carr. His 2003 Harvard Business Review article "IT Doesn’t Matter," touched off a firestorm of debate throughout our industry, especially within the vendor community.

It’s easy to see what Mr. Carr got right. He correctly observed that the client-server era led to companies over-estimating the discrete value of IT device technology. He stressed the importance of strategic alignment between information technology and business stakeholders. He predicted the rise of cloud computing and utility-like pricing based on consumption.

And while there are valid criticisms afforded by a decade of hindsight, Carr’s fundamental truth holds up today. IT isn’t valuable unto itself; its value is derived from what it allows the larger organization to...

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Colocation: Why Go There?

December 14, 2015
By Matt Farrell

Colocation-globe

In today's IT market place, decision makers are often burdened with finding the right hosting mix. The challenge is often determining where the business services would best fit: into Colocation, Managed Hosting, or Cloud? Or is it possible that a Hybrid IT model is most effective? The answers to those questions are not always clear. This blog focuses on Colocation Services; and how to determine when Colocation Services may be the right choice for you. While Cloud Services seem to demand a majority of the market attention, Colocation offers the value of owners economics. Colocation allows for more control and predictable traffic patterns, as it provides monthly OpEx. We aim to provide a comprehensive definition of the Colocation space while focusing on some of the more prominent benefits of Colocation. In addition, this post will distinguish when Colocation may make more sense versus other IT spaces.

What is Colocation?

At its core, Colocation is pretty simple. Retail Colocation providers offer space, physical security, power, and cooling for the server, storage, and networking equipment of other firms. Colocation providers further offer the ability to connect to an ecosystem of cloud, platform, ISV, telecommunications and network service providers - with minimum cost...

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Taking a Different Look at WordPress

December 7, 2015
By Andy Watson

what-is-wordpress.png

What is WordPress?

Today, nearly 25% of the sites on the Internet are WordPress sites. WordPress is an open source project that started out as just a blogging site has grown into a robust user-driven Content Management System (CMS). With WordPress, the use-cases are unlimited. There are thousands of plugins, themes, and widgets that help extend and add to the functionality available in WordPress.

In addition to all that WordPress has to offer, there is an extensive and helpful community of WordPress users around the world. Questions and answers can be found in support forums, mailing lists, WordCamps and, if that is not enough, thousands of video presentations exist and are being added to on wordpress.tv to help everyone, from the beginner to the expert.

Ways to Integrate WordPress on CenturyLink Cloud

WordPress - Blueprint

The CenturyLink Blueprint provides a click-through solution to install and configure WordPress on a new or existing server in the Linux platform.

CenturyLink Cloud works with Bitnami to provide open source software integrations to its customers. Bitnami is a library of popular server applications and development environments that can be installed with one click, either in your laptop, on a virtual machine (VM) or hosted in the cloud. Bitnami takes care...

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Colocation Buyer’s Guide

November 19, 2015
By Joseph Nguyen

Colocation-globe

In regards to Colocation, the saying: "You get what you pay for...” is especially true. Generally, the least expensive quote does not always offer the best value. In this article, we will cover an array of important topics that affect the cost-to-benefits ratio in an effort to arm you with the necessary knowledge to make educated decisions throughout the process. Whether you are just beginning the quest of determining if Colocation is a viable option for your business, or are just starting to shop the market for providers, this guide highlights some of the things to consider throughout the process.

Meet with the Prospective Teams

Talk with the sales and technical staff to gauge if their knowledge and routines are a match for your business needs, which is important because they will become an extension of your existing team. The staff will help you support equipment, answer questions, and you can leverage them to provide additional insight on the best practices for deploying and scaling your operations.

Schedule a site visit.

A site visit is a must. Evaluate the site and confirm everything is "as promised" while gaining a deeper understanding of what will be available in the future. This is a great time...

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Fedr8 on AppFog is Driving PaaS Usage in Unique Ways

November 16, 2015
By @KeithResar

fedr8-logo

The PaaS Promise - as Implemented

As an industry we see a need for faster iteration on business solutions and an expectation of higher quality. AppFog, like all cloud-based Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings, is supporting this by changing the way these applications are developed, hosted, and deployed. This change permeates throughout organizations far more deeply than the adoption of Information-as-a-Service (IaaS). In his Forbes article Mike Kavis pointed out the following:

The intent of PaaS was to abstract away all of the messy and challenging IT plumbing work so developers could just write code. PaaS’s original promise was “forget about infrastructure and operations, we will handle that for you.”

This usually presents itself as developers operating with less day-to-day involvement with IT processes as well as the staff focused on infrastructure operations. No more logging tickets for resources and waiting for manual procurement and provisioning. Once developers are using a PaaS in production, the day-to-day management and scaling of the app is highly automated.

Fedr8 Takes PaaS Adoption One Step Further

This is why the Fedr8 model on AppFog struck such a unique chord. True their service depends on PaaS for all the typical operational efficiencies in the web front-end, release management, and...

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Data Center: Media Protection

October 30, 2015
By Daniel Morton, et. al.

Data Center Media Protection

Ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of data and that customer media is protected are strategic priorities at CenturyLink. That filters down into our chain of custody procedures when handling or transferring customer media and in our procedures for the sanitization and disposal of media. Here's a shocking observation from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-88, Rev.1 on a leading source of media vulnerability and what is needed to close the gap.

An often rich source of illicit information collection is either through dumpster diving for improperly disposed hard copy media, acquisition of improperly sanitized electronic media, or through keyboard and laboratory reconstruction of media sanitized in a manner not commensurate with the confidentiality of its information. Media flows in and out of organizational control through recycle bins in paper form, out to vendors for equipment repairs, and hot swapped into other systems in response to hardware or software failures. This potential vulnerability can be mitigated through proper understanding of where information is located, what that information is, and how to protect it.

Part 3 of the Data Center series highlights the safety measures in place for digital and non-digital media in a CenturyLink data center. We've limited...

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