Posts Tagged: Automation

Spin Up a Cloud Relational Database in Minutes

October 10, 2016
By Daniel Morton

Relational DB Logo

Reading Time: about 4 minutes

CenturyLink demonstrates its commitment to provide automation and productivity on our Hybrid IT Services Platform, which makes it easy for you to manage and control your virtualized application and network resources.

Relational DB is a MySQL-compatible Database-as-a-Service (RDBaaS) designed to meet the needs of the developer for rapid software development while providing accelerated IT on-demand. For example, you can easily provision database environments without incurring any of the usual costs related to dedicated hardware and licensing. Developers can spin up high-performing, dynamic MySQL-compatible databases instantly to support their software delivery needs while minimizing infrastructure costs and reducing the time required to manage.

Deployment Options

Companies look for an advantage in the marketplace while also looking to control costs. There are basically two database deployment options facing many enterprises both large or small. In either case, the option begins with defining your need. The decision is determining which of the two makes the most sense for your business.

Traditional Self-Service Relational DB
Staff the required database administrators Define the budget
Procure or rent the hardware Consume services on an as-needed basis
Define infrastructure requirements Scale up or down as necessary
Define maintenance and downtime process
Manage security
Implement load balancing
Set up backup, failover, and failback procedures
Database application installation, configuration, automation, tuning,

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NEM and Expanse Blockchain Automation Come to CenturyLink Cloud

May 23, 2016
By Chris Meyer, Product Analyst

Blockchain Coin

CenturyLink Cloud® announces new automation to deploy blockchain nodes for both NEM and Expanse services.

What is a Blockchain and why is the Technology Significant?

Blockchain is a catch-all term for a shared immutable cryptographic distributed database. In this special kind of database the data, commonly referred to as the 'ledger', is encrypted for security and permanently stored in numerous systems across geographically varied sites for diversity and redundancy.

One of the top struggles of IT departments today is making data frictionless to consume by their customers, internal and external, yet doing so in a secure manner. With today’s technology and services those goals can be difficult to balance. Blockchain technology, however, can mitigate these concerns. By storing the data in an encrypted 'ledger' that spans numerous servers across the globe the data will be readably accessible at all times and secured against malicious modification.

The applications for blockchain technology interacting with our daily lives could be limitless - from making land-records more secure and invulnerable to fraudulent behavior, facilitating secure communication between smart devices (IoT), to promoting real-time financial transactions between banks -- the possibilities go on and on. With just this small glimpse into the practical uses for blockchain, it is easy...

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Hadoop Add-On Components Made Easy: Click to Install

May 5, 2016
By Daniel Morton

Big Data Footprint

Hadoop is one of the hottest enterprise big data technologies in the cloud today. To make big data in the cloud easier for our customers, 8 Cloudera Hadoop Add-on Services are now available for CenturyLink Cloud®. Through an ecosystem of open-source components, Hadoop Add-on Services fundamentally changes the way enterprises store, process, and analyze data to solve all kinds of big data problems.

For many, Hadoop is too difficult to deploy and manage. Automating a four-node cluster can be a daunting task. But not with the Cloudera Blueprint for CenturyLink Cloud! We've taken the complexity out of Hadoop by automating the dozens of deployment steps associated with a new cluster environment. We reduced all these steps to just a few clicks of the mouse.

Benefits of Cloudera Blueprint for CenturyLink Cloud

CenturyLink's Cloudera Blueprint simplifies the process of installing, configuring, and adding components for an entire Hadoop cluster. The Blueprints come in 1 and 4 server configurations. If you need more than 4 nodes, additional nodes can be added in minutes by upgrading the Cloudera Blueprint version.

  • Log into the Control Portal. Control Portal
  • Search for Cloudera in the Blueprints library.
  • Click the Blueprint version and cluster configuration you want.
  • Fill in the appropriate details.
  • Select your Cloudera version and
  • ...

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    Meet Runner, the Newest Multi-Cloud Automation and Orchestration Service

    May 2, 2016
    By Chris Kent, Product Owner

    CenturyLink Cloud Runner from CenturyLink Cloud on Vimeo.

    CenturyLink is excited to announce the launch of Runner, a configuration management and orchestration service that works across Hybrid-IT architectures and diverse cloud environments. Runner addresses the potential time and resource drain confronting organizations that want their own private clouds. It reduces private cloud complexity and administrative workload by allowing for fast and easy automation of infrastructure in any cloud or data center. It offers fast, easy automation and orchestration on the CenturyLink Cloud® Platform, as well as on third-party cloud providers and on-premise infrastructures and devices. With Runner, you can quickly provision and modify resources on any environment.

    What is Runner?

    Runner is automation made simple! Runner exposes an open source automation and orchestration engine as a service. On top of the engine, we’ve created custom services and APIs to enhance job execution capabilities. Runner was created to enable users to quickly and efficiently manage their infrastructure, wherever it is. Runner securely connects customers to their infrastructure whether on the CenturyLink Platform, other clouds, or private data centers, allowing for both push and pull-based communication. Whether provisioning, configuring, or deploying, Runner makes it easy to quickly create and run jobs, report on the...

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    Migration and DR to CLC: Lessons Learned from the Front Lines

    April 25, 2016
    By Gautam Thockchom

    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 Gautam Thockchom for Sureline Systems.

    Sureline is leading the way with a complete, easy-to-deploy application mobility solution that is flexible, provides the highest quality recovery points and replicates them remotely for safety, delivers zero data loss failover and failback, and provides the ability to test disaster recovery (DR) plans easily and frequently without locking the customer to a specific cloud. We're an industry leader in cloud migration, DR software, and business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) solutions. Sureline fundamentally solves the problem of any-to-any DR and migration, enabling seamless data migration and DR from any environment -- physical or virtual -- to CenturyLink Cloud.


    In our experience moving customers to the cloud and protecting thousands of machines on the cloud, we've noticed that customers are quite serious about beginning the conversion process. However, a lot of cloud projects are slow to start because of a simple reason -- the question of how to move to the cloud is typically not answered clearly.

    In order...

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    How to Ansible with Runner

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



    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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    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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    Deploying Environments and Applications with Source Code: The Cloud-based Approach to Application Creation

    October 28, 2015
    By Chris Kent


    Creating and deploying applications is like a carefully choreographed dance. One that requires balancing business goals with expectation setting. This feat includes steps like writing groundbreaking code, solving timing restrictions, and overcoming the technical obstacles between all of the teams involved. Ensuring that the dependencies and timelines between the development and testing teams are in sync and align with the hosting company and their assigned help desk engineers can be a daunting task in itself, and it often creates a bottleneck in the process. Even though this dance can be repeated countless times, it’s usually this last step that is clumsy and always results in a different outcome. What if there was a more streamlined, succinct approach to creating and duplicating environments?

    What Is Killing Your Deployment Timeline?

    Often, the environments in which applications are developed, tested, and deployed compose one of the biggest variables that can impact an overall timeline. The elements of the environments are the same almost every time: a carefully constructed staging environment, which is a cleaner, more stable version of the development environment, both of which closely mimic QA and production environments. When the time comes for deploying to a live environment, unless the environments closely align,...

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    Chef-Provisioning-vSphere driver now open sourced

    July 20, 2015
    By Matt Wrock

    I am happy to announce that we have recently open sourced our Chef provisioning driver for vSphere. This driver makes it easy to provision Chef nodes on VMware vSphere infrastructure.

    What is Chef-Provisioning?

    Chef-Provisioning (formerly known as Chef-Metal) is a fairly new offering from Chef that allows you to create Chef recipes to bootstrap machines. It extends the functionality of a recipe typically used for defining an individual node to potentially define all infrastructure for a distributed application or even an entire data center.

    Chef-Provisioning introduces a collection of new resources to your recipes and at the center of these is the machine resource. With the machine resource one describes:

    • Hypervisor or cloud-specific properties of a machine
    • Node attributes to associate with the machine
    • A runlist that the created machine will converge

    Chef Provisioning exposes a driver interface making it possible for any hypervisor, cloud or even some bare metal infrastructures to interact with these machine resources. There are currently several drivers available and today, CenturyLink introduces our own driver for vSphere.

    Chef Provisioning for the Enterprise

    The CenturyLink-released driver fills in a significant gap for provisioning Chef nodes in enterprise shops that use VMware for their core virtualization technology. We began working on this in the spring of...

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    Automated Patching: Improving security and efficiency in the Cloud

    June 25, 2015
    By Navin Arora, Operating Systems Product Manager

    Cloud computing has automated the traditional IT world, reducing application development time, while increasing speed and agility. Most of the automation has focused on things that are mostly short term in nature, like spinning the servers up and down with the change in demand. However, when running critical applications, it’s important to keep servers patched and constantly up to date.

    Maintaining server patching is as crucial in the IT world as maintaining our cars in our day-to-day lives. Patching keeps servers healthy to fight malicious viruses, repel hacker attacks and perform like well-tuned cars. Most managed hosting customers have their servers manually patched, by scheduling this with their service provider. However, self-managed customers have to patch their own servers, a process that is tedious and time consuming, as they must manually check for updates and install them.

    CenturyLink Cloud now offers Patching as a Service to all our customers, both those that we manage as well as those that are self-managed, providing an automated, self-service patching approach that is both simple and provides for greater cloud security.

    CenturyLink customers can now patch their servers, whenever they want, through any of the following three methods:

  • Blueprint- simply run the appropriate blueprint for the OS -

  • ...

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    Safehaven Run Book Automation – A small change with a big impact

    August 30, 2014
    By Scott Good, Senior Product Manager

    In an earlier post, we discussed SafeHaven for CenturyLink Cloud Disaster Recovery- as-a- Service (DRaaS) solution and the benefits it offers IT Administrators.  As we noted, failing over a multi-tiered application when executing a disaster recovery plan is critical. However, it’s not always as easy as it seems.  In order for a multi-tiered application to recover correctly, the VMs upon which it depends start up according to a prescribed “recovery plan.”  For instance, it is usually necessary for the database to be running before application servers boot and, similarly, necessary that application services be running before webservers boot.

    Safehaven for CenturyLink Cloud’s latest feature enhancement, Run Book Automation, allows end users to configure custom shut-down and bring-up plans for each group of IT systems that received disaster protection.  For example, delivering web services often involves a set of interdependent workloads that need to start in a specific order and taking into account time intervals between applications.

    For each group of IT systems within the CenturyLink Cloud, users can pre-configure and test recovery plans in the Safehaven Console that identifies bring-up and shut-down order, actions, delays, as well as any custom script to be executed as part of the recovery operation. ...

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    Five Ways To Enhance IT Ops With CenturyLink Cloud

    November 12, 2013
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Marketing, CenturyLink Cloud

    Today at Dell World, Dell announced that CenturyLink has joined the Dell Cloud Partner Program.

    So what does this news mean for Dell customers?  Simple: you now have easy access to a high performance, highly resilient public cloud, with extensive self-service capabilities.  And you will be supported by Dell and the CenturyLink Cloud team every step of the way.


    Here are five key benefits you can take advantage of immediately on this platform:

  • Deploy on virtual servers with resiliency and redundancy.  When it comes to public cloud, you hear the phrase ‘build for failure.’  That’s a critical design pattern for cloud-native applications.  But many of the apps running in your data center today – including many that are candidates to move to the public cloud – are designed with reliable infrastructure in mind.  Dell Cloud On Demand with CenturyLink offers built-in resiliency and redundancy, so many of your legacy apps – homegrown, from boutique ISVs, or Microsoft – will run smoothly ‘out of the box’ on CenturyLink Cloud.
  • Simplify DR and backups.  These tedious activities should be immediately automated.  Savvy IT departments – and those that will thrive in the future as a strategic enabler of the business – are already on this
  • ...

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    Four Quick Steps to Deploying a Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server in the CenturyLink Technology Soluti

    October 6, 2012
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    We just announced that we are a Red Hat Certified Cloud Provider which means that you can now confidently deploy Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers in the CenturyLink Cloud cloud. But enough talking about it; let’s show you how it’s done! In this post, I’ll walk through the short steps for getting a Red Hat Enterprise Linux box up and running.

    Step 1: Build the Server in the CenturyLink Cloud Cloud

    Our customers have two primary ways to build up server environments in the cloud. First off, servers can be included as part of a blueprint. Our customers leverage blueprints when they want to build reusable templates for single or multi-server environments. You can now include Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers as part of sophisticated blueprints. In addition to using blueprints, customers can build servers through a dedicated “create server” workflow. In this flow, users can provision Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers with any resource combination (CPU+memory+storage) and install any private software packages onto the new server.

    After completing the workflow, users will see their new server come online in a matter of minutes.


    Step 2: Update the server with all the latest patchset

    Recall that CenturyLink Cloud cloud servers are private by default, and...

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    SaaS Your App: Providing Support to Customers (Part V)

    September 12, 2012
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    Throughout this series of articles, we have looked at the architectural considerations and solution components that are necessary for delivering software as a service (SaaS). We have seen that upfront design is critical when building software that can be successfully used by customers with unique needs. A full-featured cloud service provider like CenturyLink Cloud offers many of the infrastructure automation and management services that makes it possible to efficiently deliver such software at scale. In this final article, we take a look at the choices that a SaaS provider needs to consider when deciding upon a support strategy for their customers.

    One overarching consideration that any SaaS provider has to make is whether they plan on providing consumer-oriented, personalized service, or something with a more mass market flavor. Each approach has merit but would result in different implementations of four suggestions below.

    Standardize wherever possible

    One of the only ways that any software provider, SaaS or otherwise, can sell at scale is to standardize their offering and avoid per-customer customization. While everyone loves the idea of “I want it my way”, that concept quickly falls apart when the software provider is maintaining unique code bases, support instructions, and pricing.

    The most...

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    SaaS Your App: Building a Customer Sign-Up and Management Portal (Part IV)

    August 26, 2012
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    So far, we have reviewed many considerations for designing, hosting and managing a SaaS application on a cloud platform. One of the hallmarks of cloud computing is the notion of “self service”, and for SaaS providers, it’s the only way that they can efficiently scale to hundreds or thousands of customers. In this article, we will look at how to use the CenturyLink Cloud web API to create a self-service sign up and management portal that lets SaaS customers administer their applications without requiring help from the software provider.

    Solution Overview

    We have been working through a scenario with a fictitious SaaS application that acts as a public face for candidates running for elected office. The application’s developer chose to deploy unique server clusters for each customer in order to isolate their sensitive donor and donation data. The management database, which holds account details and application configuration data, was shared.

    In previous articles, we walked through the steps of creating a blueprint for the server clusters, and now need a way to automatically provision these clusters and enable a self-service management experience.

    Adding New Customers

    The first thing that our developer provided was the ability to add new SaaS customers. For...

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    SaaS Your App: Establishing Operational Support (Part III)

    August 12, 2012
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    So far in this series of articles, we’ve looked at how a software provider can deliver their product in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) manner using the CenturyLink Cloud Enterprise Cloud Platform. While provisioning and deployment of solutions is an exciting topic, the majority of an application’s life will be spent in maintenance mode. In this article, we will look at how a CenturyLink Cloud cloud user can efficiently manage and monitor their SaaS environment.

    Defining Customer Capacity Thresholds

    You may recall from the last article that our fictitious SaaS application is targeted at candidates for political office. In this scenario, the application developer chose to create individual pods of servers for each customer instead of co-locating the customers on the same application or database server.

    Each of the pods of servers go into a CenturyLink Cloud Group which creates a logical segmentation of servers. Each Group can have its own permissions, maintenance schedule, performance monitors and much more. From the CenturyLink Cloud Control Portal, we can browse the individual server groups and have at-a-glance visibility into the resources being used by each server.

    In an upcoming article we will look at how to allow SaaS customers to increase server resources...

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    SaaS Your App: "Blueprinting" Your Application (Part II)

    August 5, 2012
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    In the first article of this series, we discussed the major things to consider when looking to create a software-as-a-service version hosted on a cloud platform. One major factor called out in that article was the need for a solid hosting environment. In this article, we will look at how to use the CenturyLink Cloud Enterprise Cloud Platform to package a web application for SaaS provisioning.

    Solution Overview

    To provide some real-life applicability to this article series, let us work with a fictitious, but realistic, use case. Elections to government posts are a regular part of most societies and it’s becoming increasingly critical for candidates to have a robust web presence. Let’s imagine that a web developer successfully built a web site for a local candidate and has realized that this site template could be reused by multiple candidates. Recall from the previous article that an application can be multi-tenant (and thus easier to maintain for multiple customers) in multiple ways:

  • All customers could reside on the same instance of the web application and database.
  • Customers can share a web application but maintain unique databases.
  • Each customer gets their own web application and database instance and MAY share underlying infrastructure.

    There are benefits and risks

  • ...

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    SaaS Your App: Building for Software as a Service (Part I)

    July 27, 2012
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    It will surprise no one to say that Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a hot topic. Really hot. In 2010, Gartner reported that 95% of organizations are planning to grow or maintain their SaaS investment. According to the influential technology blog GigaOm, the valuation of SaaS companies is skyrocketing compared to more traditional enterprise software vendors. While most organizations are increasing their use of SaaS products, some are looking for ways to offer their own software in a SaaS delivery model. What does it mean to “SaaS your app”? This series of articles will walk through the considerations and techniques for creating (or converting) an application for a SaaS offering. In this first article, we will lay the foundation for the series by identifying the critical aspects of SaaS and what you should look for when planning and architecting your software.

    Comparing Application Hosting vs. Software as a Service

    Isn’t SaaS just a rebranding of the products and services offered by Application Service Provider (ASPs)? The answer is a resounding NO, but it’s easy to become confused when you find so many products with “cloud!” slapped on their label. To be fair, SaaS is an extension of the ideas introduced by ASPs, but there...

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    Making it Even Easier for Our Customers to Deploy Hybrid Cloud

    July 16, 2012

    Manual environment deployments can be time-consuming and expensive. Over the years we’ve felt our customers’ frustrations: enterprise IT departments trying to be more agile in the face of business demands; ISVs that need faster time-to-money; Systems Integrators that are bogged down in repetitive work. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce the launch of Environment Engine, a toolset that automates environment and application deployments to the enterprise cloud using “Blueprints.” Blueprints contain the DNA of an environment—from host configurations, to firewall and load balancing rules, to any applications running on top. (And yes, before you ask, these tools are completely free to use for all CenturyLink Cloud customers.) With Environment Engine, the elusive IT-as-a-Service is no longer a myth. Now IT pros can create best practice-optimized Blueprints that others can use later to deploy complex applications and environments on-demand. Rollout times drop from days or weeks to hours or minutes, and because deployments are automated across the whole technology stack, build-outs are consistent and leave little room for pesky human errors. So how exactly does all of this work? Let’s get into the nitty-gritty… 1. Using the Blueprint Designer, a technical expert can create Blueprints that include host and network configurations;...

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    When Provisioning Breaks, Blueprints Shine

    July 6, 2012

    There is nothing worse than getting that email or error warning you that provisioning has failed. And inevitably this happens at the very last stages of getting an environment automated.

    You ask yourself: _What happened? Why did it fail? And then: Did I build my own logging? Did the person that built the orchestration provide logging (and, if so, where is it)?_ After asking yourself all of these questions, you realize that the orchestration/provisioning layer only shows you a simple “failure” message and no details of where it failed or why. Frustrating.

    #### With Blueprints, even failure is amazing…

    “Blueprints” is CenturyLink Cloud’s environment templating engine. It allows you to combine virtual machine templates, infrastructure tasks, script packages, and software packages to create a fully deployable environment—such as building a Microsoft Exchange server environment with just the click of a button. The other Blueprint feature that is simply incredible is the debugging and details that you have access to when deploying a Blueprint. This includes access to not only the status of the deployment, but also the tasks being executed. If something fails, you know where and why. ![](/assets/images/blog/BP-1-252x300.png "Deployment Failure") Here is an example of a blueprint being executed that fails on step...

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