Posts Tagged: AppFog

Platform CenturyLink: Power and Scalability in One Location

April 13, 2016
By Phil Jensen, Product Owner - Advanced Storage

Data Visualization

Background

I work as a Product Owner on the Advanced Storage team at CenturyLink Cloud®. My totally awesome team is comprised of 7 developers, an analyst (with dev chops) named Dan, and myself. One of the things I really enjoy about being a product owner at CenturyLink Cloud is that I have the autonomy to solve my own problems. I have access to, and I am encouraged to use, all the capabilities of our platform. It also helps that I have a development background, which gives me a desire to learn tech and use it to do fun things.

My team has been busy rolling out our next generation Object Storage product to Canada and the Eastern US. After we recently launched our product for the first time, Dan and I took some time to reflect on what tooling we needed in order to track against our business goals. We realized that we needed better visibility into how customers use our product. What customers and storage buckets are growing? At what rate are they growing? What customers are deleting their data? We desperately needed business intelligence on our product.

At CenturyLink Cloud, our internal Analytics team developed an ELK stack for our product...

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The Path to the Platform: Build or Buy?

March 21, 2016
By Jared Ruckle, Product Owner

Lego Docker

Developers love Docker. It’s simple, fast, and lightweight. There’s even an open-source community behind this tech that’s growing at an exponential rate. And there’s a decent chance that your organization is already using Docker; 70% of enterprises are using containers.

Further, Docker usage is serious business, notes Donnie Berkholz, Research Director at 451 Research (slide 13 of the deck):

Not Just a Toy

Build or Buy

For organizations considering the next step in their evolution toward cloud-native development, a new choice emerges: Build on my current container usage today and advance it into a Platform with internal resources, or look outside my organization to buy these capabilities?

These two options are summarized nicely by Sam Ramji, CEO of the Cloud Foundry Foundation. Cloud Foundry is represented as the Platform option on the left. The Do It Yourself option on the right features the Kubernetes/Mesos approach to Docker.

Build or Buy

Each option offers a thoughtful ways to embrace the 4 principles that will shape the future of IT. Both choices:

  • Are based on open-source.
  • Embrace the elastic, cheap compute of the public cloud (and private cloud where required).
  • Offer significant abstraction, keeping IT out of the guts of the stack. Some assembly is required to get to this point for the "Do It Yourself" path,
...

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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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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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Real-time Data Distribution with Apache Kafka

August 21, 2015
By Chris Kleban

Like most enterprises and service providers, at CenturyLink we aim to please our customers by making data-based decisions. As our business grows, so does the amount of data we collect. The effort required to distill, distribute and analyze the data in meaningful ways was increasingly strenuous to our team. In short, we needed to become faster with our analytics. If your organization is becoming overwhelmed with data, read on, as I’ll share how the Cloud analytics team used Apache Kafka to solve the following challenges with collecting and distributing data at scale:

  • Efficient access to data
  • Speed
  • Scalability
  • Distributed, Fault Tolerant, and Highly Available

Challenge #1: Efficient access to data

Getting access to data is sometimes the hardest part. Sometimes the data that you need lives in some isolated software service and a one-off data export is required. Perhaps your data integration flow is overly-complex due to your adoption of a service-oriented architecture (SOA). Maybe you have a process that requires multiple teams to perform work before data is moved around. We saw all of this and more, and decided to make it easier to move our data to increase the overall velocity of our organization. Our data distribution flow between services looked something like this:

Previous...

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AppFog Makes 12 Factor Apps Easier. But What Are 12 Factor Apps?

July 21, 2015
By Jared Ruckle

Businesses have a mandate to gain a competitive advantage from IT. Invariably, this discussion turns to cloud-native apps. Leaders ponder questions like “How can we create, run, and scale new applications quickly and easily?” “How do we experiment, get to market faster, and reduce the cost of trying new things?”

The answer: embrace the development and operational principles behind “12 Factor Apps.”

Our AppFog service (based on Cloud Foundry) makes it easy for developers to create apps that adhere to these 12 factors.

But what are these 12 factors? What does the developer need to do differently?

12 Factor Apps Meme

Thankfully, this phrase - defined on this manifesto - has avoided the fate of terms like “cloudbursting” or “as-a-service.” It has a very specific technical meaning, and strong roots with engineers, not vendors.

For those just getting started with cloud native apps, we thought it might be helpful to discuss each of the factors – and what you can do to adhere to each one. We’ve included quotes from the 12 Factor site when helpful.

I. Codebase - One codebase tracked in revision control, many deploys

WHAT IT MEANS

Many organizations have siloed development and operations teams (unintentionally or otherwise). This results in different codebases; different versions across different systems,...

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From Application Services to Bare Metal: A Complete Platform for a Complex World

July 16, 2015
By Richard Seroter

As comedian Louis C.K. put it, everything is amazing right now. Companies serve a worldwide audience by deploying apps almost anywhere in minutes, collect unprecedented amounts of data by processing hundreds of millions of events without breaking a sweat, and design resilient systems that quickly adapt to changing usage patterns and unplanned disruptions.

With all this power, comes complexity. The era of simple two-tier, single-technology apps is over. To achieve the scale and performance needed to solve modern problems and differentiate your company from competitors, developers often create powerful distributed systems made up of ephemeral containers running single function microservices based on cutting edge open source software, and all of it deployed via automation. Even if you’re not doing all of those things right now, your applications and services rarely fit neatly into a single host. What you need, is a platform that offers the optimal host for each component of your system.

That’s our focus at CenturyLink — but more on that in a moment.

Let’s look at an example. A typical business system has a number of components that comprise the overall solution. In the case below, a mobile user comes into the system via an app that leverages an API...

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CenturyLink Cloud May Release: A Potpourri of Delight

May 8, 2015
By Jared Ruckle

Regular readers of our release notes know we now detail enhancements across a broad range of services, beyond what’s included in our flagship public cloud services.

This shift has a practical benefit to customers, since the vast majority of what we build is available via self-service and on-demand. Online documentation is crucial to enabling our customers with these new capabilities.

Here are a few highlights of our May release, grouped by product “theme” for context.

New Services for Developers

Most businesses that have thrived the past decade have one thing in common – great software. (Cue the "software is eating the world" narrative.)

If you’re operating in the retail, consumer goods, or transportation sector, how do you consistently build and deliver great software to users? You use the cloud, and you use new, innovative services that make life easier for developers. Two such examples are front-and-center in the May release:

  • Orchestrate.io – API-driven database-as-a-service, recently acquired by CenturyLink. The service is now accessible in four CenturyLink Cloud nodes, and can be integrated in with other cloud deployments.
  • AppFog Limited Beta – this new service is based on Cloud Foundry v2, offering massive productivity benefits for developers. It’s now available as a Limited Beta – to sign-up, visit
...

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CenturyLink Building Platform Momentum with Cloud Foundry

May 7, 2015
By Wendy White

While getting ready for Cloud Foundry Summit, I sat down with our resident AppFog product owner, Chris Sterling, and CenturyLink Cloud ecosystem head, David Shacochis, to discuss their respective efforts within the Cloud Foundry landscape and what they’re looking forward to at the upcoming event.

Q: With Cloud Foundry Summit right around the corner, what momentum do you see for the broader Cloud Foundry ecosystem?

Shacochis: Chris sent around this link the other day of Sam Ramji’s interview with Alex Williams on the Cloud Foundry ecosystem – it’s very consistent with the momentum we’re seeing around Cloud Foundry here at CenturyLink.

Sterling: Absolutely, and for anyone who hasn’t heard that podcast, it’s almost required listening if you want to better appreciate the past and future of Cloud Foundry.

Q: What stood out to you in that interview?

Shacochis: The important piece to me is the power an open-source ecosystem holds when it’s well-managed and incorporates diverse perspectives toward a shared goal. Ramji covers how many large organizations are part of the Cloud Foundry Foundation and driving innovations from their particular part of the industry into the code base. It made me think of all the work CenturyLink has been doing with the Foundation to fine-tune...

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PaaS First; IaaS Second: Five Reasons to Select Your PaaS First

April 1, 2014
By Originally Posted On AppFog.com

Are you building your cloud application directly on the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider vs. using a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)? In recent conversations with dozens of cloud application developers I’ve found many developers are still choosing to build their application using services offered by the IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) provider, e.g., Amazon (AWS), Rackspace or other IaaS providers vs. using a PaaS between the application and the infrastructure. In nearly every instance I find the primary reason for selecting an IaaS first was that the development team didn’t fully understand the benefits of a PaaS or didn’t know how to evaluate one.

We recommend to our clients that they select their PaaS first and then select the IaaS provider that best supports their selected PaaS. By developing your application using a PaaS, you can lower the total cost of ownership of your application by 30% or more. With the right PaaS, you also gain the freedom to change cloud infrastructure providers over-time and avoid infrastructure vendor lock-in by making your application portable to any IaaS provider.

We see five primary reasons for using a PaaS:

Reduced Operations Cost – we generally find that 30% or greater of development time can be consumed in DevOps functions. A PaaS will...

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Better Together: Bosh and Cloud Foundry on CenturyLink Cloud

January 7, 2014
By Jared Wray, CTO. Find Jared on Twitter.

We’re big fans of Cloud Foundry, open-source platform as a service.  Why?  Two reasons: the level of abstraction it offers enterprise developers, and the portability across cloud providers. This combination means faster development and deployment of multi-language web applications.  And Cloud Foundry is backed by a thriving ecosystem of hosting providers.

It’s our goal to make the CenturyLink Cloud the cloud of choice for enterprise developers interested in Cloud Foundry.  To that end, we’re excited to announce an important milestone.

Today, we’re pleased to announce the beta availability of BOSH on the CenturyLink Cloud.

BOSH is a crucial tool for deploying and managing Cloud Foundry at scale. It is supported on AWS, OpenStack, and vSphere and vCloud Director – and now CenturyLink Cloud.

Getting started with BOSH on the CenturyLink Cloud is easy - just set up a Micro-BOSH server configured for CenturyLink Cloud, then use the standard BOSH command line tools!  Check out how to get started here. Support is based on the BOSH July 2013 snapshot and is Ubuntu only.

We are confident enterprises and devs will like the “better together” combination of BOSH, Cloud Foundry and CenturyLink Cloud.  Here are five reasons why:

  • Supports everything you love about BOSH and Cloud Foundry. 
  • ...

    Read on...

    New horizons in Node.js: App.js and WebRTC

    September 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    It’s hopeless trying to keep up with developments in the Node.js community. Believe me, I’ve tried.

    Once upon a time, I held out hope that I would be able to keep my finger on the pulse of Node-related discourse, but it all turned out to be in vain. New modules are added and updated to npmjs.org on an almost minute-by-minute basis. It’s enough to make your head spin (in a good way, if that makes sense). However, there have been a few big and bold movements in the Node.js space that have caught my attention recently that I think are incredibly promising and that I just couldn’t keep to myself: desktop client creation with App.js and WebRTC.

    Make some room, Qt: App.js is the new kid in town

    Did you ever want to use JavaScript to construct a rich UI experience in a non-browser setting? Well, now is your chance. Did it never even occur to you to try such a thing? Well, that’s okay, too, because I always assumed that I would have to learn C++ to ever accomplish such a thing. But playing around with App.js, which is available as an NPM module, has convinced me that this is a really...

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    The developer’s toolkit: HTTPie

    August 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    Make no mistake: for people who hack on UNIX-based systems, curl is a really powerful command. It enables you to extract the client-side content of any web page in an instant and also to do all kinds of things with the result, like dumping it into a .txt file (a trick which has been extremely useful to me in learning web development).

    But the curl command doesn’t always function all that intuitively on the input side, and the output always comes out monochromatic, making it difficult to immediately discern what’s going on in the stream of text you’re presented with in the CLI.

    HTTPie, in the words of its creator, was built “out of frustration with existing tools.” It provides the capacity to make both more intuitive requests and polychromatic output. Using it couldn’t be any more simple. The commands underlying an HTTPie request look like this in generic form:

    http [flags] [METHOD] URL [items] Let’s have a look at a sample POST request (taken from HTTPie’s GitHub readme):

    http --form POST api.example.org/person/1 name=’John Smith’ [email protected] The equivalent request done with the curl command:

    curl --data “name=John+Smith&email=john%40example.org” api.example.org/person/1 Requests in HTTPie aren’t necessarily significantly less verbose than curl requests. But that’s not their primary function. The benefit of...

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    Why Cloud Foundry matters to Hackers

    August 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    Unless you live under a rock, you have heard of Cloud Foundry. However there is still a lot of skepticism out there about PaaS in general and Cloud Foundry in particular.

    I’ve been an open source hacker for over a decade. Compiling linux kernels, hacking MySQL, and generally getting my hands into every system that I could. I have also authored over a dozen open source libraries, some being used widely.

    When I saw PaaS in the early days, with EngineYard and Heroku, I thought it was really cool and inspiring. Like many hackers though, it is hard to trust something or fully enjoy it when you can not get under the hood.

    Why does Cloud Foundry matter?

    EDIT — It is a great PaaS. As the first commentator noted, none of this matters if the technology sucks. Cloud Foundry is a great, easy to use technology that works reliably, simply, and smartly. It supports many languages and many services. To a hacker and tinkerer, it is a haven for fun.

    It is well designed. Example: A message bus acts as a nerve center to various components via pub/sub. For example, when a new app server comes online, it subscribes to listen for new app...

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    Putting the MOVE framework in proper perspective

    August 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    In a recent post, on data models and persistence, I made what I now realized to be a pretty fundamental mistake: I talked about the use of data models in web development, but I restricted my discussion to MVC-style frameworks alone and should have said more about alternative design patterns.

    I restricted my discussion in this way more for the sake of brevity than anything else, but I’ve learned a lot in the last few weeks about alternative architectures and want to begin weighing in. Next week, I will discuss Knockout.js’s MVVM (model-view-view model) front-end architecture and the abstraction gains associated with it. But first, I want to discuss another alternative to MVC that’s been getting a lot of traction on the webs in the last few days: the MOVE framework, as outlined by Conrad Irwin.

    MOVE is an (admittedly quite clever) acronym for Models-Operations-Views-Events. What the term seeks to capture is an emerging way of structuring applications that doesn’t rely on an explicitly defined and coded controller. The problem, according to Irwin, is that quite often “you end up stuffing too much code into your controllers, because you don’t know where else to put it.”

    A much better way of doing things...

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    Optimizing JavaScript for the V8 Engine

    August 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    For those of you like myself that didn’t have the good fortune of going to Google I/O, I hope you caught this video, “Breaking the JavaScript Speed Barrier:”

    As an aspiring developer, this was far and away the most intriguing and helpful video from the conference. This talk, delivered by Google’s Daniel Clifford, provides a number of essential guidelines for writing JavaScript that is better optimized for running on Google Chrome’s V8 JavaScript Engine. Google has been doing pretty incredible things in the last few years with JavaScript, improving benchmarks and narrowing the speed gap between JavaScript and other languages that was once thought to be unbridgeable.

    We should be grateful that Google has invested so much time and energy into optimizing JavaScript performance. It has never been more important as a language, and its star is unlikely to fade anytime soon. For Clifford, optimizing JavaScript performance not only helps us do the same old things faster and better. It also broadens our development horizons and transforms the kinds of things that are possible, especially in the sphere of front-end development.

    I won’t give a fully fleshed-out summary of the talk, as I would recommend watching it on your own. It’s briskly presented...

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    Twitter Bootstrap and the rise of total front-end frameworks

    August 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    It’s no secret that there’s lots and lots going on in back-end web development these days. As an example, debates surrounding node and asynchronicity, to give just one example, have reached a fever pitch and have occasionally felt more like philosophical arguments than technical arguments.

    The same has been true for debates between “thick” frameworks like Rails and Django versus “thin” frameworks like Sinatra, Flask, and Express. On top of these issues, we’re also witnessing an explosion of creativity in the world of full-stack frameworks (Padrino for Sinatra, Tower.js for node, etc.). (More on this very soon, so be sure to hit a subscribe link on the right)

    But what has surprised me recently is that similar developments are afoot in the world of front-end development. The shining example par excellence: Twitter Bootstrap.

    Bootstrap was essentially a big, juicy bone thrown to the web development community by Mark Otto and the folks in the design department at Twitter. The purpose is to allow third-party developers to easily lend some much-needed aesthetic consistency to the world of Twitter-related web apps, which now number in the hundreds of thousands (see this article by Drew Heatley, which gives a figure of a million, which I didn’t...

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    The developer’s toolkit: Swagger

    August 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    I know what you’re probably thinking: I’ve written this post to recommend developers to add swagger (note the small “s”) to their existing set of skills and attributes. While I certainly do not disrecommend swagger as a character trait, my purpose today is instead to talk about the Swagger (note the big “S”) API documentation and exploration tool.

    Swagger enables you to transform your API into a sleek UI that makes it vastly easier for third-party users to see an exhaustive list of what your API offers, how requests are matched with URLs, and what the server will return in response to specific requests.

    Swagger also provides a sandbox UI for experimentation with APIs. Have a look at the demo UI. What you find there is an API for a hypothetical pet store. If you click on “/pet” for example, this will open up a menu of all of the HTTP requests associated with that directory.

    If I want to see what pets are available with the ID “Fido,” I simply need to open up the menu bar associated with GET /pet.json/{petId} requests, insert “Fido” into the text field, and hit the “Try it out!” button to get the API’s response:

    What I get...

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    Two reasons why PaaS is so much more than automation

    August 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    Bruno Terkaly is a heck of an interesting and intelligent guy. I suggest you check out his many videos and writings. As a fellow developer evangelist, I look up to Bruno a lot. And like him, I’m heavily invested in the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) paradigm. And so when I came across this piece of his from a while back, I couldn’t help but devour it and ruminate on it for several days. It’s an impressive bit of thinking but I feel that there are some serious problems with his understanding of PaaS.

    The argument of the piece, titled “Why Platform as a Service (Robotics) will rule the world,” is essentially this: PaaS will rule the (cloud) world because the principle behind PaaS is automation, and automation is the core of a “radical technology revolution” that is slowly but surely making our global digital architecture more efficient. Terkaly even goes as far as to equate PaaS and “robotics” in the very title of the piece. The premise is that PaaS essentially roboticizes cloud infrastructure and thereby makes it vastly more efficient and easier to use.

    How does this roboticized system work? The answer lies in what Terkaly calls the Fabric Controller. It lies at...

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    Traditional vs PaaS hosting

    August 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    Comparing a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) to traditional hosting like VPS/shared hosting (e.g. DreamHost, Host Gator, GoDaddy) or infrastructure-as-a-service hosting (e.g. Amazon Web Services, Linode, CenturyLink Cloud) is like comparing apples and oranges. One must look beyond hardware and price to get a true cost/value when picking a hosting provider.

    Shopping for traditional hosting is too much like shopping for breakfast cereal: many mediocre options, little differentiation, annoyances for up-sell.

    Traditional hosting… (aka “do it yourself”)

    With traditional hosting developers have many responsibilities before they can even touch a line of code. Lets look at some of these responsibilities…

    • Set up the application server (e.g. Apache, Nginx, etc.)
    • Set up MySQL database
    • Setting up the run-time platform like PHP, Ruby, etc
    • Something isn’t working.
    • Diagnose, re-configure/re-setup, try again.
    • Dependencies… right, have to setup those up too.
    • Setup FTP to deploy your code.
    • Setup security and firewall.
    • It worked on localhost, why isn’t it working now!!!

    As you can see, before you get to the code, you’ll have to spend hours getting your production environment in a state which is just barely good enough to host your application. If you want your application to be reliable, scalable, and resilient against various failures, you’ll have to deal with additional issues like setting up monitoring, alerting, load...

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    What is NoOps anyhow

    July 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    Since having our infographic published on GigaOm, there has been a lot of controversy and FUD around “NoOps”. Paul Graham recently wrote about schlep blindness. NoOps is a response to the schlep blindness of developers doing SysOps.

    What does NoOps mean?

    • NoOps means developers can code and let a service deploy, manage and scale their code
    • NoOps means automated systems like CloudFoundry managing app lifecycles, not SAs “the point isn’t that ops are going away, but they’re going away for developers” – Derrick Harris at GigaOm

    What does NoOps NOT mean?

    • NoOps doesn’t mean that operations are dead and nobody will do them (like this tweet thinks)
    • NoOps isn’t a job role (like this tweet and this tweet thinks)
    • NoOps isn’t blissful ignorance (like this tweet thinks)
    • NoOps isn’t marketing fluff made up by non-technical idiots (like this tweet and this tweet thinks)

    This is the true spirit of NoOps:

    “Netflix runs NoOps … Netflix is a much larger example of a PaaS based NoNops organization … We claim a competitive advantage from the agility and automation of a PaaS based product and a NoOps organization.” – Adrian Cockcroft, Cloud Architect at Netflix (read more)

    The growth of the SysOps movement has been driven mainly by developers who were tired of...

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    The magic of not-even-rendering: on Knockout.js

    July 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    In a number of casual–and sometimes not-so-casual (!)–discussions about client-side JavaScript libraries, I’ve noticed that people have an unfortunate tendency to lump them all into a single amorphous blob. Backbone? Ember? Angular? Knockout? They all do something-or-other involving structuration on the front end; they’re all more or less the same thing.

    WRONG!!!

    There are indeed deep similarities between these libraries in terms of what they offer developers, but understanding their differences means understanding which use cases they’re best suited for. Here, I’ll make a foray into this discussion by outlining some of the basic characteristics of Knockout.js I’ve discussed Backbone previously, and I’ll discuss the others in a future post.

    According to Knockout creator Steve Sanderson in this video, Knockout, like many other libraries, was meant to provide “rich client-side interactivity.” HTML and the DOM are never ever ever going to provide you this on their own. What you see is what you get. In 1992, that was just fine. In 2012 we expect a whole lot of interactivity on the client side, but this kind of interactivity can’t be built on sand. Doesn’t a library like jQuery get us there? Well, not quite.

    Binding jQuery to an underlying data structure

    Knockout is a library...

    Read on...

    AngularJS: the beauty of concision

    June 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    Some of you might remember a Backbone blogging engine I made a while back. It certainly wasn’t the most advanced use case for Backbone, but I think that it did a decent job of elucidating some of Backbone’s features: event-driven responsiveness, templating, collections, and so on. It was also a great learning experience and my first foray into thick client-style development.

    But then a few weeks ago, a number of trusted friends and colleagues began raving about AngularJS. Curious about what the fuss was about, I began doing some exploring, looking at sample apps, reading the API docs, and watching a few videos, and it became abundantly clear that Angular is an almost shockingly powerful library. I was surprised by the kinds of heavy lifting that can be accomplished with little effort. And so I set out to see how concisely I could re-implement my Backbone project in Angular.

    I was quite pleased with the result.

    Getting started

    The first thing you need to do is specify within your <html> tag itself–I know, crazy, right?–that your HTML page is going to be staging an Angular app. Instead of the typical <html> tag, you need to insert a <html ng-app> tag instead. As you’ll see...

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    Best Practices for Accelerating Your Enterprise Cloud Strategy

    June 2, 2013
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager

    Last week, CenturyLink Cloud led a webinar focused on helping organizations kick-start their cloud efforts. While the cloud makes a lot of sense for organizations of all sizes, it can be daunting to get started with such a disruptive initiative. No doubt that most CIOs have heard horror stories about failed cloud initiatives, so how do they avoid becoming a statistic? CenturyLink Cloud offered five best practices to help companies take a successful plunge into the cloud.

    #1 - Form a “tiger team” to achieve quick wins and pursue IT-as-a-Service

    What’s a “tiger team”? I liked this description of its military background and applicability to IT:

    “When the Navy needed some quick turnaround work or repairs, they would assemble a tiger team,” Ballard said. “The connotation was that it was a self-contained team that included all the skill sets and resources needed to do the work — journeymen, planners, engineers, fabricators, etc.”

     “A tiger team was a small hand-picked, particularly skilled and capable group of ‘tigers,’ often chosen and chartered by a commanding officer, to plan for and/or achieve a very specific mission,” Lehman said.

    The good news - you probably do this in your organization today when new, major initiatives come up and big...

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    Codenvy Cloud IDE Now Directly Supports CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service PaaS

    April 6, 2013
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    Just a couple weeks ago, we looked at how Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) helps developers rapidly build and deploy applications to the cloud. We also covered a new breed of cloud-based development environments (IDE) that developers can use to create and publish their web applications. Since then, the cloud-based IDE we featured – called Codenvy – has updated their product to support the CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service. In this post, we’ll walk through how to quickly and easily deploy and manage Platform as a Service applications from your web browser.

    To start with, when users of Codenvy start a new web application project, they are asked which technology they want to use, and then which PaaS to deploy to. At this moment, the CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service is available for Java Web Application (WAR), Java Spring, and Ruby on Rails projects. Note that Platform as a Service works with more environments than these three, but these are the technologies supported via Codenvy.

    Codenvy Cloud IDE

    Once the user chooses the technology and corresponding PaaS, they choose a simple project template (if one exists for that technology), and are then asked for the management API endpoint of the Platform as a Service environment.

    Codenvy Cloud IDE

    The project...

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    Quite possibly the best Rails tutorial in existence

    April 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    One of the best things about learning Rails has been the community. It’s amazing to see how many great tutorials and guides and forms of documentation have been created out there for beginners, even absolute beginners (as I very, very recently was).

    The guides section of the Ruby on Rails website itself was, of course, very helpful in walking me step by step through installing rails and walking me through the various files and folders associated with the directory of any Rails app. I highly recommend it. And this video from Jeffrey Way is the best resource I’ve found so far for making the jump from just feeling your way around Rails into actually doing something with it (a chasm that I’m hoping to cross very soon).

    But the very best thing that I’ve found so far, which will be useful for both beginners and those entering a more intermediate phase, is Michael Hartl’s t tutorial on railstutorial.org. What makes this tutorial stand out for me is its thoroughness. Plenty of tutorials walk you through step by step, but Hartl’s tutorial deals with a variety of crucial issues from the very get-go, including writing your own tests and specs to a discussion of...

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    Everybody Loves PaaS; PaaS is Failing

    April 1, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    In the beginning, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) was created for developers, not for enterprises. Developers could deploy and test applications within minutes, not days, weeks or months. PaaS enabled developers to sidestep the need to invest in a platform of their own (or mess with jumping the IT queue). And Developers found it good. Agility and velocity became the primary drivers for moving workloads off-premise and into public clouds. As a result, PaaS rapidly became the preferred platform for cutting-edge startups and ambitious developers within small and large organizations.

    Low introductory prices made it easy for developers and executives to adopt PaaS as their platform; and everyone enthusiastically embraced the agility and velocity they realized through PaaS. Even corporate IT executives saw the upside of PaaS: faster application development reflects well on them. But they saw a downside, too, especially as business units went off the reservation for PaaS suppliers. The lack of central control complicated management of corporate system and created potentially serious liabilities because the integration points were unclear and complicated. The first PaaS providers ignored all of these concerns, even claiming that incumbent systems “didn’t exist” because they weren’t focused on enterprises.

    But these days, early PaaS success is making the...

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    It’s Hard to be Number One

    April 1, 2013
    By Originally Posted On AppFog

    Now that PaaS has become the hot topic in the Cloud – and now that Enterprise customers are starting to sign those 9 figure contracts for PaaS providers – we’re starting to see the sort of negative marketing that has long been the trademark of Enterprise Software. This is sad, but inevitable. At present the negative marketing seems to largely be targeted at the leaders in the space and seems to largely consist of FUD.

    While normally we would simply ignore this kind of thing – a recent post on the Apprenda blog about Cloud Foundry does, in our opinion, require a response. We have been partners with VMware and Cloud Foundry from early in Cloud Foundry’s existence. We are big fans of Cloud Foundry and AppFog is built to support Cloud Foundry. As such we are a part of the ecosystem that Sinclair talks about. Given his basic thesis, we should be worried sick about VMware and should be fighting to find different alternatives.

    Nothing is further from the truth.

    FUD: What VMware is doing with Cloud Foundry will collapse the ecosystem!

    In looking at the post, the entire thesis is that “more cloud” is a bad thing and that by helping enterprises...

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    The Simplest Way to Build and Deploy Web Applications to the Cloud? Use PaaS and Cloud IDEs!

    March 17, 2013
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    Web applications are a dominant part of most enterprise IT portfolios and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) products offer a compelling way to easily deploy and manage these applications. However, PaaS have proven tricky for vendors to explain, and therefore difficult for customers to understand. In this post, we’ll discuss the reason you should consider using PaaS products, what CenturyLink Cloud has to offer, and how you can deploy a web application to a PaaS in a matter of minutes.

    Benefits of PaaS

    What exactly is PaaS? Basically, it’s a way of delivering an application platform as a service. Developers don’t interface directly with infrastructure (e.g. servers, networks, load balancers) but rather, focus on building and deployment applications through a set of exposed services in a managed fabric. PaaS simplifies the deployment and management of modern web applications while making those applications more resilient and functional. How can PaaS add value to your organization? Let’s drill into some specifics:

      *Reduce server sprawl with a centralized host for web applications. How many web servers are sitting relatively idle in your data center because they are only running a handful of applications? Server sprawl can be a major issue as each IT project requisitions its...

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    Docker and the Future of the PaaS Layer

    March 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    You know what’s pretty easy nowadays? Throwing a bunch of processes onto a server running somewhere far away. Dozens. Thousands. Millions. As many as you want. This was really, exasperatingly hard just a few years ago. But Amazon Web Service, CenturyLink, and other players have come along to make this pretty painless.

    But you know what’s still really hard? Making those processes completely self-contained and yet running on one kernel and manageable from a single interface. This is the problem that Docker was meant to solve.

    Brief intro to Docker

    Docker chose to address this problem by building a developer-friendly abstraction layer on top of Linux containers (LXC). LXC is a powerful concept, but it simply wasn’t built as an intuitive interface. It’s a pain to use and prohibitively complicated for anyone but the most adept Linux power users.

    And so the idea of enabling developers of all stripes to actually use them in a way that gets rid of tons of conceptual overhead and streamlines the use of containers into an actual runtime that makes real sense amounts to a massive win over the more low-level containerization tools that already exist.

    Docker takes LXC and constructs a set of basic commands around it, commands...

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    Why JSON will continue to push XML out of the picture

    March 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    The world’s digital infrastructure is currently characterized by a plethora of data interchange formats. It’s not the least bit surprising that such a multiplicity undergirds things at the moment. The internet is scarcely a generation old, while the “Internet of Things” and “Big Data” more closely resemble regulative ideals than realities. But I nonetheless believe that there are strong, discernible historical tendencies currently at work in this field, tendencies that strongly favor JSON over others.

    Ten years ago, XML was the primary data interchange format. When it came on the scene, it was a breath of fresh air and a vast improvement over the truly appalling SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language). It enabled people to do previously unthinkable things, like exchange Microsoft Office documents across HTTP connections. With all the dissatisfaction surrounding XML, it’s easy to forget just how crucial it was in the evolution of the web in its capacity as a “Swiss Army Knife of the internet.”

    But it’s no secret that in the last few years, a bold transformation has been afoot in the world of data interchange. The more lightweight, bandwidth-non-intensive JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) has emerged not just as an alternative to XML, but rather as a...

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    Node.js is taking over the Enterprise – whether you like it or not

    February 4, 2013
    By Originally Published On AppFog

    Node.js is taking over the Enterprise – whether you like it or not

    The question is no longer if Node is enterprise ready. The question now is the following: what major digital enterprises will end up being the last hold-outs?

    There’s now no question whatsoever that Node is far more than a flash in the pan. The question nowadays is not whether or not Node will break out of its so-called “hipster hacker” bubble, but rather how much of the digital world it will conquer.

    In spite of all of the early FUD directed at the Node community and arguments that you shouldn’t use Node for anything much less for enterprise-ready web development, a pretty sizable chunk of the corporate world has gotten on the train.

    It turns out that the same things that made hackers fall in love with Node are more or less the same reasons why enterprises are turning to it. In a world in which we want information pipelined to us in real time and in which technological advancements like open APIs and distributed computing have made that possible in once-unprecedented ways, then it’s no surprise whatsoever that the contemporary digital marketplace would begin looking for tools to not just...

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    Application Portability in Action: A Demonstration of Cloud Foundry Core

    January 2, 2013
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager

    The Cloud Foundry PaaS team recently announced Cloud Foundry Core as a way to make it simple for PaaS customers to discover the services and platforms supported by each Cloud Foundry provider. The provider platform, such as CenturyLink Cloud’s Platform as a Service,  is interrogated live to show the latest services and frameworks that are supported. But does this really matter? Is portability overrated?  While your business applications are probably not leaping between environments on a daily basis, portability does greatly improve deployment choice and disaster recovery options**.

    Let’s see how this plays out in real life. I built a sample application that used Node.js for the web layer and PostgreSQL for the database layer. My goal is to quickly and seamlessly move this application between development (Micro Cloud Foundry), test (CloudFoundry.com) and production (CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service) environments.

    Deploy an Application to Micro Cloud Foundry

    Micro Cloud Foundry is a fully encapsulated virtual machine that surfaces all of the Cloud Foundry services. Developers can work with this local cloud to build and test their applications before deploying to a production-quality Cloud Foundry environment. This offering differs from the development fabric offered by other clouds in that it’s a complete clone...

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