CenturyLink Cloud Delivers IPS Anywhere

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

cloud_security

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 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 way,...

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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 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 a...

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Virtual Appliance Update: Managing Applications in Your Data Center

February 16, 2016
By Mariana Welti

New Appliance

Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. The much awaited update for the Cloud Application Manager virtual appliance has arrived and it brings robust cloud application management experiences from the SaaS environment directly into your datacenter. With many customers requiring unique infrastructure configurations and isolation from a shared platform whether it be for regulatory, compliance or simply taking advantage of existing investments; we’re enabling users to manage their applications consistently across clouds while IT has the confidence that on-premises investments are being leveraged.

One of the leading updates for this release is that Kubernetes from the Google Compute Engine is now supported as a deployment target, allowing users to build applications and package them with the appropriate configurations for the Google cloud. This expands the deployment options for customers who aspire for a wide range of applications that can be packaged into a container and managed on Cloud Application Manager.

We also expanded support for the Google Compute Engine (GCE) cloud itself which includes: new autoscaling support, Windows instances support, and new functionality that allows users to select the desired boot disk size, based on their needs (SSD’s and enhanced support for disk images).

This comprehensive appliance update also allows for more cloud providers: OpenStack now supports...

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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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New Cloud Application Manager Updates: Visual Insights and Custom Box Branding

January 26, 2016
By Brannan Matherson

Icon Picker

With the latest update from Cloud Application Manager, we have introduced two unique capabilities to improve the user experience and surface insights gathered from application operations to make informed business decisions. This update includes:

Live Viewer: Brings the application visualization experience to applications which have been deployed into production (Instances tab within the portal). Building on our previous visualization enhancements back in November 2015, users can see all of the relevant components of an application and their inter-dependencies in a single topology view. This allows users to quickly understand which components are online or those that need attention in relation to the fully-deployed application.

Icon Picker: Empowers users to provide their own unique application stacks and boxes through branding of various icons that can be assigned to each component. This will allow organizations to select their own icon for a script box (1st party or 3rd party) as well as an application box to provide a custom service catalog of applications that are consistent with a given set of policies, licensing and branding.

Live Viewer

As customers continue to evolve their deployment processes and integrate responsibilities between application teams and IT infrastructure administrators, real-time information about a running application is critical. Essentially, the Live...

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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 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 performance...

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How to Ansible with Runner

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

how-ansible-logo

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 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 little...

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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 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 incredible...

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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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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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