Executives, IT pros, and developers are all looking for ways to inject more automation into their business processes. Public cloud services are a key enabler. But there are degrees of automation.

Run by Robots

To take this notion further, the Gartner Mode 1 / Mode 2 perspective on enterprise IT is a helpful frame of reference. Let’s start with Mode 2 first:

  • Mode 2 workloads – the cloud-native apps – are everyone’s favorite son. These “transform the business” projects are API-driven, and built to scale on low cost, elastic compute. Automation is central to application architecture and design - so much so that very small teams of engineers can create amazing apps that “go viral” worldwide. “Robots” do all the undifferentiated heavy lifting.

  • Mode 1 workloads – the existing “core” apps that run the business today – have a different slant on automation. These programs were largely designed for traditional infrastructure or basic virtualization, and as such, are ill suited for cloud scale. But the opportunity for automation exists in the form of day-to-day maintenance and optimization. Human experts are needed to keep these apps running - often in the form of outsourced managed services - since significant internal investment can’t be justified.

Our June release has a slew of updates geared towards both flavors of automation.

Mode 1: Cloud-based Managed Services in Three New Sites

Our cloud-style managed services are now available in three additional locations: Singapore (SG1), Toronto (CA3), and Chicago (IL1). CenturyLink now has managed services in six public cloud nodes - the three locations above plus Santa Clara (UC1), Sterling (VA1), and Slough (GB3).

How do managed services on public cloud help with Mode 1?

Our customers often tell us some variant of this: “I just need these apps online and running smoothly, I don’t have time to manage them – my hair is on fire with other stuff.” Managed services on our public cloud have proven to be a popular solution.

Customers can easily spin up managed environments in minutes - far faster than on traditional infrastructure. After the environments are online, our managed services team (the human experts) takes over, and keep tabs on the apps and underlying OS. What specifically are they doing? A few helpful examples:

Category Services Performed on Customer’s Behalf Example
Operating Systems SPLA management, User policy and administration, Best practice change control processes, OS-level hardening to boost security Windows, Red Hat
Databases Monitoring, Log Management, Network protocol configuration MS SQL, MySQL
Web Servers SSL certificate installation & configuration, Coordinated patching MS IIS, Apache

Of course, customers can still view their managed VMs 24x7, see real-time billing estimates, and even adjust resources; our managed services group simply steps in when needed.

Mode 2: New Features: Database as a Service, Automated Patching, and Firewall Policy APIs

Core automation comes to life with these new features:

Orchestrate Enhancements. Databases, particularly NoSQL databases, are the foundation for most cloud native apps. Orchestrate, our recently acquired database-as-a-service product has two new enhancements to help developers:

  • New bulk write API. Perform up to 250 operations (documents, events, graph relations) in a single call to the Bulk API. This can result in significantly better latency and throughput for the entire set of operations.
  • New dashboard query form. Previously, interacting with the full capabilities of Orchestrate required usage of its API. Now with this enhanced dashboard, more capabilities are exposed via the UI, making it easier to interact with the service. New elements that can be manipulated visually include: Server generated keys, Result pagination, Conditional requests, Search, Sorting, and more.

Orchestrate dashboard UI

Automated Patching as a Service for Windows 2012. Patching operating systems is a thankless (but necessary) task. Now there’s an easier way to keep your VMs running securely, with patching as a service, powered by Blueprints. Now all customers can patch their Windows 2012 VMs for free, on-demand. When you decide it’s time to patch your Windows box, simply apply the Blueprint, or do it in bulk via the “Execute Package” command in the Control Portal or API. The service will then patch the server, log the start and completion time, and list the applied patches. Learn more about Patching as a Service.

Automated patching

Firewall Policy APIs. Users can now interact with firewall policies via API – this helps weave networking and security into programmatic development of new applications. GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE verbs are all supported for intra-DC policies. These new capabilities builds on the VLAN management and load balancer APIs delivered in the last few releases, offering customers more ways to automate.

Bi-Modal Means Robots and Humans

It’s our mission at CenturyLink Cloud to offer a variety of agile infrastructure services that suit both Mode 1 and Mode 2 workloads. And our customers run both type of apps in a unified provisioning and management interface, the Control Portal. We like to say that our engineering team builds the robot that runs our cloud infrastructure. These robots, in turn, can be programmed to run your cloud native apps.

But we also know that human experts are needed too. See how robots and humans can work for you with a free trial.