Posts Tagged: Hybrid IT

Mastering the Digital Customer Experience at Dynatrace Perform 2017!

January 17, 2017
By Bob Stolzberg

digital customer

Dynatrace, a CenturyLink channel alliance partner, is hosting the largest peer-to-peer digital performance management event in the world, Perform 2017! Taking place February 6th–9th in Las Vegas, the event provides organizations a platform to explore how to transform their businesses and an opportunity to learn from top leaders in the digital performance and customer experience arena. The event includes 75 speakers, 60+ hands-on training sessions, and in-depth education and certification opportunities. Perform’s jam-packed thought leadership agenda includes industry-leading speakers who will share their expertise and provide how-to ways to help you shift your business to the cloud, master digital complexity, create waves within your industry, and, most importantly, delight your users and customers!

Attendees at Perform 2017 will learn:

• Performance and architecture validation with continuous integration

• Gaining business intelligence via PureLytics and big data

• Advanced eCommerce monitoring – Performance and business metrics

• Super charge your public cloud performance management

• Uncover your path to digital performance excellence – Six steps to success

And more!

Master Your Cloud Application Universe with Dynatrace and CenturyLink

CenturyLink is a proud diamond sponsor of Perform 2017. Our subject matter experts will be on-site covering...

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6 Reasons to Use Bare Metal in the Cloud for Gaming

December 19, 2016
By Daniel Morton

Bare Metal Logo

Reading Time: about 4 minutes

Power Up for Game On! Today's gamer has come to expect fast development turn-around for high definition, no-latency, multi-player games with the speed that is available globally. In short, they want a seamless, dynamic gaming experience. To deliver on these expectations, many game developers and publishers look for hosted infrastructure that is high-powered and built on speed, performance, scalability, and high availability to provide games to their customers. Anything less than that is insufficient. A platform that is sluggish or delivers interrupted performance means "game over". And that impacts the game publisher's bottom line. CenturyLink addresses that challenge.

You can build a scalable server architecture for your gaming engine that leverages all the advantages available to you on the CenturyLink Cloud® platform while voiding the capital expenses associated with managing an in-house data center. Our high-performing CenturyLink Cloud infrastructure allows you to focus on the things you do best — creating unbelievable games and bringing them to market. Bare Metal servers on our platform give you the ability to deliver an awesome gaming experience seamlessly, with more computing power available to you than you usually find in a virtualized environment.

Advantages of Gaming on Bare Metal

The CenturyLink...

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Transform Your IT via the CenturyLink Cloud Platform

December 16, 2016
By David Shacochis

Helping our customers transform IT through a cohesive set of services that span workloads, infrastructure, and network is our core focus at CenturyLink. Many service providers in the market are focused exclusively on innovating within the cloud services layer, and then partnering for service management and network connectivity. CenturyLink’s strategy is more workload-oriented: We focus on integrating solutions that span the layers of the Hybrid IT stack because we feel it unlocks more value for our customers over time.

Customers have different needs, and many are gravitating toward strategic partners like CenturyLink to support a range of workload scenarios. Businesses can unleash the power of the CenturyLink platform, to create a recipe of products and services that not only meet their individual business needs, but also offload onerous tactical items where IT departments often can't afford to invest scarce resources.

The CenturyLink Cloud platform is one of the core pieces of this strategy. We've architected our platform to be an easy way for enterprise technology efforts to get started quickly, with access to the right networks. We expose this platform publicly, so that our customers and partners can co-innovate with us.

We have created a quick "Platform Overview" video highlighting the...

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Advantages of Running Containers on Bare Metal in the Cloud

November 22, 2016
By Daniel Morton

Bare Metal Logo

Reading Time: about 5 minutes

With each passing day businesses become more and more reliant on data analytics and high-performance infrastructure needed to power data workloads. Enter CenturyLink Cloud® Bare Metal, the next evolution in cloud computing. It's a natural progression of virtualized cloud technology that offer's the capability of cloud without drawbacks of virtualization.

Handling the incredible amounts of information streaming across company networks is a huge challenge for any system administrator. Businesses are realizing that running bare metal servers in the cloud and combining them with container technology, built on top of a complete enterprise cloud platform, is essential for success.

The container you choose depends on the complexity of the project and your specific business needs. If your DevOps team is smaller and you want broad functionality right out of the box, Docker is a good choice. If customization is an important criterion, CoreOS Rocket is a good selection. If you're looking for operating system isolation between instances, Canonical LXD is a good option. You can find tutorials on our Developer Center that show how to implement any of these three containers on our platform. When it comes to physical servers that provide the flexibility and control of a virtual...

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Big Data on Bare Metal

November 14, 2016
By Brandy Smith

big data on bare metal

Reading Time: about 4 minutes

Recently we beefed up our Bare Metal servers to provide customers with more ways to utilize, build, and customize their bare metal instances. These new configurations were designed to allow the Bare Metal servers to support more intensive compute workloads, as well as accommodate a wider range of use cases while still providing the flexibility and control of virtual machines.

CenturyLink Bare Metal servers are fully-integrated into the CenturyLink Cloud®, allowing you to create and manage physical servers alongside virtual instances. Customizable solutions are available such as the ability to power on and off your bare metal instances as needed with pay-as-you go flexibility, and host a wide range of applications from a unified interface. Ideal for compute-intensive applications like databases, analytics jobs, grid computing, and other workloads requiring consistent performance.

Big Data on Bare Metal

Bare Metal Servers on CenturyLink Cloud provide an excellent environment for your business’s big data application workloads. They provide the ability to provision and manage physical machines fast via API or Control Portal. Design and grow your clusters to meet the exact demands of your data. Compute isolation and consistent performance are essential when mining demanding scenarios like recommendation engines, machine learning, and...

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Leveraging Relational DB to Control IT Sprawl

November 7, 2016
By Daniel Morton

Reading Time: about 4 minutes

Control IT Sprawl

Data is the foundation of businesses today. Thus, database technology is a critical component of any IT infrastructure. In a typical enterprise IT environment, it’s not uncommon to see engineers and developers create hundreds or even thousands of databases and the bare metal machines or VMs needed to run them. That raises the issue of a significant problem for companies, both large and small -- database sprawl. The Uptime Institute estimates that up to 30% of servers in this country alone are "comatose," but still "racked and running." In the typical enterprise environment there are huge numbers of resources sitting idle, poorly optimized, under-utilized, or completely forgotten. A digital footprint like that consumes more in resources than many companies care even to think about.

The Problem of Database Sprawl

Management of IT sprawl is more than simply an administrative headache. There are both tangible and intangible costs that impact an organization’s IT operations, and those costs can add up quickly. Here is just a sample:

  • Poor Use of Resources - IT personnel now have the added responsibilities of administering databases and maintaining servers.
  • Best Practices Overlooked - The fact is, all databases are not implemented or maintained in the same
...

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Four Factors to Consider Before Taking Big Data to the Cloud

October 26, 2016
By Brandy Smith

EMC-Cloud-Big-Data

Big data is rapidly evolving from proof-of-concept to production. While the terms big data and cloud were previously taboo, many businesses are looking to big data as a source of customer insight and a way to bolster operational efficiencies. The cloud is becoming a viable option as many IT managers are faced with the challenges of finding ways to collect, store, manage, and analyze large amounts of data collected from thousands of sources.

As big data production applications migrate toward becoming the norm across organizations, it is being increasingly applied to enterprise-wide, mission-critical operations. Big data has become too massive to keep on a single proprietary system. As such, the demands for integration are increasing exponentially. The current task at hand for many IT decision makers is to create a plan for taking their businesses data to the cloud, and how it will be used after it is there. But once that is complete, the monumental task of building out a long-term strategy for their data to succeed in real-world corporate IT settings awaits.

The Big Data Model

Big data activity can be aggressive. Often this means that the issue of data collection is way ahead of storage and utilization capabilities. When...

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Tips for a Successful Security Strategy

October 19, 2016
By Brandy Smith

secure cloud

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), an annual campaign sponsored by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). The overall goal, according to the Department of Homeland Security, which participates in NCSAM, is to “increase the resiliency of the Nation in the event of a cyber incident.”

Security threats are vast and constantly evolving, as should your businesses security strategy.

Today, security isn’t just about basic protection. Companies have far more to consider than they once did. Now, a security strategy is a holistic approach to protection, prevention, detection and response—and it needs to encompass all aspects of an adaptive security architecture.

Top Business Security Threats

Here’s an overview of what you need to consider when implementing, updating, and enforcing your security strategy.

External Threats

According to Cisco's Annual Security report, 100% of multinational companies show evidence that suspicious traffic was emanating from their networks and attempting to connect to questionable sites.

The speed at which external threats are increasing is exponential. There are millions of malware variations that enterprises must defend against, but it’s difficult for signature-based malware to keep up. There are more distributed denial-of-services (DDoS) attacks than ever before, and they vary widely; they can be highly targeted or generic, long...

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Beefing Up Bare Metal

October 3, 2016
By Joe Nguyen

Servers in the cloud

In an effort to better meet our customers' needs and the ever changing market, we beefed up the feature set and availability for our Bare Metal servers on the CenturyLink Cloud®. At CenturyLink we continue to build a customer driven cloud, powered by feedback from the front lines of our business---the user. And while Bare Metal servers in the CenturyLink Cloud have always delivered the best of both worlds: the computing power of a physical server, plus the automation and pay-as-you-go flexibility of virtual machines; these new enhancements provide our customers with more options regarding where and how they can build their Bare Metal instances.

New Data Center Availability

Previously, customers could build their Bare Metal servers in either our Sterling, VA or Slough, United Kingdom data centers. We added three new data center locations to the line-up: New York, Vancouver, and coming soon, Sydney. The addition of these new locations gives our customers more options on a global scale.

New Server Configurations

New configurations are designed to allow the Bare Metal servers to support more intensive compute workloads. These modifications mean more cores, more memory, SSDs, and more local storage with configurable RAID control options.

Server matrix

For detailed information about the full set-up updates,...

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Obstacles to Better Broadband in Rural Communities

August 30, 2016
By Jessica Weber

bicycle-wheel.jpg

It's easy to lose perspective when you're working with and using technology. Something that seems so simple and fast, like transferring a file, requires a lot of "behind-the-scenes" work to happen. There's the physical limitations -- does the network even reach my location? -- and there's also resource limitations -- is there enough staff or money to make file transfers in this area a reality?

In a world where the Internet of Things (IOT) is becoming a common commodity and people in urban areas expect fast transfer speeds and instant data access, there are those outside the urban bubble, mainly rural communities, that still face a number of challenges to making fast and reliable data transfer a reality.

There are many reasons that these rural communities need faster and more reliable broadband connections. The infrastructure of a community relies heavily on the speedy communication between staff. Whether it be to put out a fire or respond to an emergency situation, people need to communicate quickly and efficiently. This is especially important in the realm of health care. Rural communities have a difficult time upgrading the technologies that would grant them faster access to health care specialists, who are most likely located in...

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Your Applications on Any Cloud, Across Many Clouds

August 16, 2016
By Ross Gray

Cloudsoft-Logo

Periodically, we turn over control of the CenturyLink Cloud blog to members of our certified technology Ecosystem to share how they leverage our platform to enable customer success. This week’s guest author from the Cloud Marketplace Provider Program is Ross Gray, VP at Cloudsoft

Cloudsoft Application Management Platform (AMP) is software which streamlines the development and operation of applications. AMP orchestrates services, platforms, and infrastructures to ensure they directly meet the needs of applications, dynamically and in real time. This results in more reliable operations, productive development, and greater agility for IT to respond to their business needs. Now, Cloudsoft AMP is available on the CenturyLink Cloud Platform via Blueprint. CenturyLink Cloud works with Cloudsoft to provide agility and reliability throughout the application lifecycle, and provide users with the ability to build applications across any cloud, or across many clouds.

Behind the Cloud AMP Technology

AMP is built on a foundation of Apache Brooklyn, Clocker, Apache jclouds and other open source technologies. AMP collects and packages the open source projects Apache Brooklyn and Clocker. AMP’s autonomic policy-based management transforms cloud operations and liberates applications from infrastructure, allowing you to mix-and-match bare metal, virtual machines and containers.

Cloud AMP utilizes autonomic computing, a framework which...

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How to Conquer the New IT: Cloud, Network, and Managed Services

August 4, 2016
By David Shacochis, VP, Product Management for Hybrid IT Services

The 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide was just released - download it here, and to most readers it looks similar to last year. Two vendors are in the leaders quadrant, a sole vendor in the visionary quadrant, while a peloton of other platforms rounds out the niche quadrant. We agree with this characterization of the market, and thought it would be helpful to add some clarity to our niche strategy that currently supports thousands of enterprise customers around the world with their digital transformation journey.

There is a subtle nuance to the public cloud market worth noting: nearly all the leading providers have some other line of business that complements (or subsidizes) their cloud services. In this regard, CenturyLink is no different.

As the title of the piece suggests, our focus is on helping customers transform their IT operations through a cohesive set of services that span cloud, network, and management. We’ve seen how this can overcome obstacles to digital transformation that the pure-play platforms cannot erase on their own.

Many service providers in the market are focused exclusively on innovating within the cloud services layer, and then partnering for managed services and network connectivity....

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What’s the Big Grey Thing in the Corner?

July 28, 2016
By Kenny McBride

elephant

Has the 'elephant in the room' suddenly appeared or has the IT world merely been turning a blind eye when it comes to recognizing one of the most important facets of virtualization and cloud computing? There seems to be resistance to the inevitable and necessary restructuring of IT organizations in this new virtual, services-driven world.

Technology shifts are remaking the Chief Information Officer (CIO) career trajectory, and as a result organizations will have to evolve to meet these new demands and expectations. The increasing reliance on IT across the enterprise has seen the CIO evolve from being a 'function' leader to a 'business strategy' leader. Statements like: “We are more focused on business outcomes than technology,” will likely become the norm rather than the exception. The CIO role is evolving from a support-based position; it's now shifting to a role more closely-aligned to corporate strategist, especially in this rapidly-changing service-orientated cloud computing environment.

To get the most out of highly-virtualized, cloud-ready environments consumers and users have to rethink and realign IT organizations. Consider the typical organization of a data center, which usually contains a hardware department, a network department, and a storage department. Internal customers can no longer require separate equipment and...

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How to Build Cloud at Scale: The Secrets of Tinman

July 19, 2016
By Brandy Smith

cloud automation

The proliferation of mobile devices, rapid generation of data, and cheap broadband access (all contributing to the “Digital Tsunami”) has forced many data center providers to re-think how they build capacity, specifically public cloud capacity. Only a few of the traditional providers have transitioned to public cloud. For our part at CenturyLink in the last few years, we’ve expanded our reach to 14 public cloud nodes around the world. Each one offers a compelling mix of elastic services at a competitive price. And we are expanding in each data center constantly. Because of this expertise, many enterprise customers offload infrastructure management to us. But even as many of these businesses shift to public cloud, IT leaders often ask us about how they can run their on-premises deployments more effectively. To paraphrase “how can I bring some public cloud automation pixie dust to my private cloud deployment?” With that backdrop, we wanted to share some of the best practices behind one of our internal automation projects, Tinman. Tinman is a collection of APIs and scripts that ingests a rack of gear, then quickly transforms it into usable compute services. Tinman is how we bring new gear online, in a completely automated way.

Where to Get

...

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CenturyLink Cloud Provides the Top Price & Performance Value in Europe

June 29, 2016
By Kevin Yurica

CloudSpec1

Cloud Spectator, an independent testing organization, recently reported the results of benchmark testing on cloud performance across nine of the largest, most well-known public cloud providers with data centers in Europe. Across this group of cloud providers that included Google, Microsoft, Amazon AWS, IBM and others, CenturyLink Cloud® had the highest CloudSpecs™ Score in the test and was recognized as the cloud service provider offering the highest overall value to customers. This pattern has played out before in similar studies.

For 2016, Cloud Spectator has focused industry attention on the considerable performance variability across otherwise similar product offerings from different cloud vendors with operations in Europe - and they note that this observed performance variability directly impacts the value delivered to cloud customers. Based on testing against all the major public cloud vendors with data centers in Europe, Cloud Spectator describes three common misconceptions about performance in the cloud:

  • VM performance is pretty much the same across different cloud service providers (CSPs).

    False. Cloud Spectator netted entirely different performance results given similar VM configurations from different cloud service providers.

  • When it comes to performance, you get what you pay for.

    False. In this study focused on performance, Cloud Spectator found no real correlation between price and performance.

  • Resource

  • ...

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    Enhanced LDAP Capabilities for Better User Management

    May 26, 2016
    By David Navarro

    Hacker

    Recapping the first half of the year, we’ve introduced a lot of new product capabilities which include the Live Viewer, Clone Option, and Public Application Boxes to make it easier for DevOps to work together in small teams, and collaborate on large projects across organizations.

    ElasticBox continues to help IT management teams automate deployments in compliance with their corporate policies, the latest launched feature: Enhanced LDAP Groups. In our commitment to simplify the life of IT ops we are providing them with more visibility, control and insight into their users and resource trends.

    We introduced LDAP groups 2 years ago, to help sync LDAP groups in your organization with ElasticBox workspaces. This tool enables users to sign in with their org credentials and immediately start working in a team assigned workspace in ElasticBox. Reduced setup friction, simplified on-boarding process, and controlled access to deployment assets are just some of the benefits of integrating LDAP in ElasticBox.

    So what does this enhancement mean for you? Beyond refreshing the portal and user experience, the Enhanced LDAP Groups offers filtering of groups for easier discovery of complex implementations and support for posixGroups. The group filtering allows you to sort and show only your desired users and...

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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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    ElasticBox API’s: The Secret Sauce

    May 12, 2016
    By Mariana Welti

    Secret Sauce

    ElasticBox’s API supports all functionality available on the UI. But what does this mean for customers who are integrating ElasticBox with their custom solutions for managing services?

    We have the privilege to work with industry-leading companies such as Netflix, DeNA and Cytobank, to name a few. While most of them operate with hundreds and even thousands of instances at the same time, taking advantage of integration with their existing investments allows them to provide users an experience that fosters productivity. Sometimes that’s best served with an off-the-shelf implementation and other times, using API’s to leverage functionality on a proprietary platform can also be beneficial. Nonetheless, we give customers choice.

    Many times, organizations have environments in which their manual operations are not manageable which causes sprawl of systems and services; ultimately leading to a significant increase in systemic errors. This is where automation can be used to run a customers’ processes, and thanks to our API, they can deploy thousands of instances quickly, update environments in a few simple steps and simply re-deploy dormant instances.

    In this scenario, ElasticBox’s UI works as a control panel, as users can monitor workloads in a graphical manner from the admin console. They can also...

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    Benefits of Cloud Load Balancing

    May 9, 2016
    By Thomas Broadwell

    load-balancing.png

    Businesses large and small are leveraging the cloud to run a variety of applications that are critical to their success. Tools for sales and customer management, inventory management, expense tracking, file storage and sharing, websites, and custom applications are just a few of the many cloud-hosted services that keep businesses running. The scalable and global nature of the cloud helps to create affordable and flexible applications in a web hosting solution for most businesses today. Since servers host these applications in the cloud, it only makes sense to load balance the servers in the cloud as well.

    Proven Performance

    Real-world application performance can be unpredictable. To ensure maximum uptime and reliability, the CenturyLink Cloud® platform offers a portfolio of cloud load balancers to meet the unique requirements of your apps. Less complex applications can deploy shared load balancers, while more involved apps can use dedicated load balancers that support advanced OSI Model Layer 4 - Transport and Layer 7 - Application rules. SSL offloading is also available, from 100 Mbps to 500 Mbps.

    Cloud Load Balancing from CenturyLink uses a multi-tenant, scalable, and programmable infrastructure presented to the customer as a service. The Dedicated Load Balancer uses Citrix® NetScaler®, the industry’s leading web...

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    Container Impact on the Cloud - What’s Next?

    May 5, 2016
    By Mariana Welti

    Containers

    Containers have become one of many viable solutions to running software with high reliability when migrated from one cloud environment to another. This can be from a physical machine to a virtual machine in a private or public cloud, or from a staging environment into production.

    Companies like Google, IBM, VMware and Microsoft are all investing in container offerings and are becoming more popular each day. This is largely due to the fact that containers let you pack more computing workloads onto a single server, resulting in less hardware purchase, lower facilities cost for your datacenter and reduction in experts required to manage that equipment. Meanwhile, Linux containers give each application its own isolated environment in which to run whereas multiple containers leverage the host servers’ operating system. Since you don’t have to boot up an operating system, you can create containers in seconds versus minutes like virtual machines.

    So what should I expect to see for the foreseeable future?

    Will containers eventually replace server virtualization?

    The most reasonable answer nowadays is “No”, as virtual machines still offer better security than containers do. However, it’s not a “one-or-the-other” approach either, but management tools are evolving to orchestrate large numbers of containers in...

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    Sharpening the Cloudy Arrow

    May 4, 2016
    By Mike Kane

    dynclclogo

    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 Mike Kane, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, for Dyn.

    We’ve all done it at one time or another. You know… drawing a fuzzy arrow between two system components without really knowing exactly how the data is going to get from point A to point B. Almost every reference architecture scribbled on a white board has at least one such cloudy arrow. If the information has to travel between customers and users, as well as cloud and data center assets, typically the path is usually not well understood. Yet these paths can have as much impact on service performance as anything else. The situation requires deeper examination.

    The chances are, unless you’re specialized in network operations, you may not be completely aware of the nuances and challenges involved in moving data and procedure calls on the Internet. It’s time to get on it though. As your organization transitions from on-premises infrastructure to cloud-based and Hybrid architectures, you will likely find yourself relying on...

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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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    Unleash the Power of the Platform

    April 20, 2016
    By Jonathan Townsend

    cloud-technology.jpg

    Unleash the Power of the Platform

    Understanding not only what the CenturyLink Cloud® Platform is, but how to use it to get the most out of the products, services, and offerings, requires more than a surface-level view. In essence, our goal is to show you how to really engage with the CenturyLink Cloud Platform. We created a quick "Platform Overview" video to cover a wide array of our platform offerings and to show you how you can easily build and customize our catalog of products and services to fit your specific business needs; and most importantly, manage them seamlessly with just a few clicks. Watch the video below to learn how to utilize the CenturyLink Cloud Platform and transform how you deliver services to your customers.

    2016 CenturyLink Cloud Platform Walkthrough from CenturyLink Cloud on Vimeo.

    clc-platform-dashboard

    Customizable Control at your Fingertips

    The CenturyLink Cloud Platform is comprised of IaaS, PaaS, and cloud management features that make it easier to manage and operate resources. Users can engage the platform by using the Control Portal, API's, and SDK's. There's a lot that goes into managing and building a cloud environment, such as thinking about the entire lifecycle of your resources. The Control Portal unlocks full functionality...

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    CenturyLink Cloud Price Drops: More Scale, More Automation & We Pass the Savings on to You

    April 20, 2016
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Owner

    clouddollarsign

    CenturyLink is pleased to announce price reductions for several of our flagship public cloud services around the world.

    Highlights:

    The CenturyLink Cloud® online estimator, TCO tool, and product pages have been updated to reflect our lower prices. The lower prices are effective for customers retroactive to April 1, 2016. And the customer invoices delivered for April will reflect the price changes noted above.

    Public Cloud Economies of Scale at Work for You

    This is the benefit of the public cloud – large providers like CenturyLink buy the gear and write automation software to run it efficiently. Part of the scale we can achieve at CenturyLink with our public cloud is due to our other infrastructure services – colocation, and hosting products in over 60 data centers, as well as a world-class fiber network....

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    Data at Risk – What to do?

    April 14, 2016
    By Justin Withington

    DR_start

    Why Data Protection Services are Important

    Data backup and restoration is critical on both a personal and business continuity level. From personal photos to customer financial information, data is always at risk of being lost. These risk factors range from user error to natural disaster; it’s not a matter of “if”, but "when." The associated downtime of these sudden events can cripple businesses. Those who are prepared can resume operations swiftly and not only minimize financial impact, but seize the opportunity to gain new business from competitors whose operations may be nonfunctional. The consequences of data loss can be so great that many businesses are forced on a regulatory level to maintain consistent copies of data.

    What Solution is Right for You?

    So you have important data that you don’t want to lose -- what next? With the myriad of choices, it may be difficult to determine what product provides the best fit for your needs. The first step in the selection process is to ask yourself “What am I trying to protect and why?”. Are you trying to ensure your precious memories are not erased forever? Perhaps you need to protect your sensitive client information from vandalism or system failure, or even...

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    CenturyLink Cloud in Australia: Our 14th Public Cloud Node is Live

    April 12, 2016
    By Chris Levanes, Director of Cloud & Managed Hosting, APAC

    Australia-cloud

    CenturyLink Cloud® is open for business Down Under.

    The new Sydney location features our portfolio of compute, storage, and networking products, fully self-service, elastic, and on-demand.

    Now, businesses operating or based in Australia can now turn to a single, trusted provider for public and private Cloud infrastructure, managed services, colocation, networking and support for advanced Hybrid IT scenarios. The Sydney site is our 14th public cloud node, and is federated with our other locations in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Singapore.

    CenturyLink Cloud’s infrastructure and platform offers customers an enterprise-ready path to leveraging cloud services to meet their business and IT requirements. Users can deploy a wide range of applications on our infrastructure – lift-and-shift migrations, traditional three-tier apps, and new cloud native patterns.

    Key CenturyLink Differentiators

    So what's different about CenturyLink's services? What's unique for the Australian market?

    • CenturyLink Cloud offers built-in cloud management, automation and orchestration capabilities to help customers enable business agility with self-service. Bundled billing and governance features reduce runaway spending or bill shock.

    • Customers can provision highly-configurable virtual servers instantly. These can then be connected to our full portfolio of Hybrid IT services– Colocation, Managed Hosting and Network, to deliver real-world applications running in across different islands of compute.

    • Customers

    ...

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    Leonteq Enables Self-Service of Infrastructure and Applications

    April 11, 2016
    By Brannan Matherson

    Leonteq

    Solving Business Challenges

    Everyday new applications and services are requested and requires IT provisioning to deliver differentiated value back to the business as well as to end-customers. Leonteq is the latest customer to publicly share how IT is approaching the challenges of rapid deployment and management of modern applications across varying cloud infrastructures. Being an industry leader in technologies for investment solutions within the financial services sector, they have been addressing challenges with disparate infrastructure resources, exploding requests for services and a diverse set of application tools.

    Check out the Leonteq case study to learn how ElasticBox is helping IT:

  • Consolidate cloud infrastructure (private and public environments).

  • Deliver a self-service catalog of application services and tools.

  • Foster user collaboration with a policy-based approach.

  • Being able to empower teams to create environments on-demand and manage numerous application stacks helps to increase efficiency and focus on innovation for customers. Leonteq offers a great playbook on how enterprises consider their transition to the cloud and adoption of modern application delivery. With heavy investments in their own datacenter, having a platform that leverages on-premises deployments as well as offers consideration for other public cloud environments in the future is extremely valuable. This allows them, and similar organizations, to adopt the...

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    Capacity Planning for Cloud Platforms, Part 2

    March 28, 2016
    By Ryan Kirk, Principal Data Scientist, CenturyLink Cloud

    capacity-planning2.jpg

    In Part 1 of our two-part series on Capacity Planning for Cloud Platforms, we tackled some major factors relating to what capacity planning is, why it's a constantly evolving exercise, and how best to prepare and forecast for future business, platform, and customer needs. Capacity planning for a cloud-based platform requires a careful look at the business landscape with regards to assessing future expected levels, and needs. Considerations such as purchasing decisions and patterns in conjunction with their associated cadences heavily impact and dictate capacity planning and implementation.

    In Part 2 of the series, we're going to discuss capacity planning with regards to forecasting for different types of devices, customer behavior and process-orientated build patterns, integration strategies, and handling the unexpected.

    How we Forecast for Different Types of Devices

    The cloud platform is an infrastructure of connected devices of different types and different manufactures. Fortunately, there are many similarities between devices from different manufactures. For capacity planning purposes, these similarities between manufacturers often allow us to treat different devices similarly as long as they are the same type of device. There are many types of devices such as: network devices, storage devices, and compute devices. For both business and technical reasons, our forecast...

    Read on...

    Cultivating Containers: Best Practices for Gen 3 Cloud Management

    March 24, 2016
    By Carol Carpenter

    Cloud Meetup

    Last night, the ElasticKube team sponsored a San Francisco Cloud Mafia meetup with AppOrbit. While containers have been around for a while, the varied topics and questions reflect the fact that most companies are in the early stages of using containers. Topics ranged from best practices for container management at scale, to namespaces, to picking a repo.

    After some yummy Mediterranean and Mexican food (“mediterran-ican”), CTO and co-founder of ElasticBox, Alberto Maestro, kicked off the evening with a review of the generational shifts in cloud management platforms, highlighting Generation 1 as being workflow driven with an emphasis on flexibility over reusability. Generation 2 is defined as model-driven or declarative with a premium placed on reusability over flexibility. Finally, he described Generation 3 as container driven with configuration management being done at build time, not deploy time. Gen 3 is typified by a single abstract container infrastructure model. Modern companies are moving towards Gen 3 cloud management.

    With this context, Alberto then explained why we selected Kubernetes over other solutions in the market as the platform for our container management solution.

    Why Kubernetes

    He then shared ElasticKube, an open source project for container management on top of Kubernetes. His demo included authorizing new users, managing a...

    Read on...

    Ecosystem: Easy Solutions to Cloud Complexity

    March 15, 2016
    By Jeff Meacham

    Cloud Complexity

    CenturyLink Cloud has an impressive track record over the past few years of delivering new features and functionality to its platform. To wit: Frost & Sullivan recently recognized CenturyLink as its Company of the Year for the North American Cloud Industry. The report details how CenturyLink is meeting the needs of the next generation of technical and line-of-business cloud users. CenturyLink Award

    One aspect of CenturyLink Cloud’s approach worth highlighting is the simplicity of deploying add-on tech to complete a complex, hybrid cloud solution.

    CenturyLink Ecosystem

    CenturyLink introduced its Partner Ecosystem in early 2015. Since then, partners have introduced over 200 solutions that solve specific business needs.

    What’s more, these solutions can be deployed instantly by using CenturyLink’s built-in orchestration framework called Blueprints. Blueprints are pre-packaged workflows that can be defined and re-played at any time on the platform. Custom configuration settings are entered in minutes during deployment. Blueprint Framework

    How can this Ecosystem work for you? Let’s start with Disaster Recovery (DR), a common workload for enterprises just beginning their cloud journey. Public cloud is great for DR for three key reasons:

    • No CapEx: No new capital outlays are required in the form of new hardware or a build-out of a secondary data center.
    • Easy to Get Started: Point-and-click to
    ...

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    Authentication, User Management, & Repeatable Deployment Container Services on Kubernetes Clusters

    March 11, 2016
    By Brannan Matherson

    ElasticKube

    With so much angst in the market over new and innovative ways to deliver cloud application services, ElasticBox has joined the open source community by introducing an entirely new project focused on container management called ElasticKube. Many of our customers have shown a keen interest in containers, although they’re looking to leverage ElasticBox for “traditional” virtualized environments. However, I’m always intrigued at how cautiously optimistic IT organizations are and even sometimes, downright pessimistic, when it comes to management and security of containers. So it makes perfect sense that ElasticBox has chosen to invest in containers and meet a huge need in the market.

    Today’s launch is the first step in working with the community to help standardize the way enterprises deploy and manage containers. But what is ElasticKube exactly? Glad you asked; it is essentially a management layer on top of a Kubernetes cluster. Similar to the experience that you might see in our ElasticBox offering, this is a web console and self-service template catalog of all the containerized services that are available in your repository (for example, GitHub). Our primary focus has been to add value with authorization and user management which allows for visibility into who has done what...

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    Container Management Made Easy: Kubernetes on CenturyLink Cloud

    March 2, 2016
    By Chris Kleban, Product Manager - CenturyLink Cloud

    Today, we’ve announced a new way for developers to quickly deploy Docker containers on CenturyLink Cloud with automated scripts to configure and launch Kubernetes, the open source container orchestration system.

    Docker Logo   Kubernetes Logo

    Why Docker and Kubernetes?

    Docker containers allow you to run your software across multiple platforms, giving you reduced load times, version control, and reusable software components while removing the need to manage shared software dependencies. Kubernetes is the open-source platform for automating the deployment, scaling, and operations of application containers across clusters of hosts. Together, Docker and Kubernetes enable our customers to accelerate development, simplify operations, and deliver a truly open hybrid cloud strategy.

    Both Docker and Kubernetes are open-source projects with large active communities. They are constantly rolling out new features and are being used in both small and large scale production environments.

    Types of Applications

    Docker and Kubernetes are the ideal combination for many types of applications. They enable 12-factor applications, micro-services, and cloud-native applications, as well as more traditional back-end services like databases, big data stacks, and file stores. Using a "pets" versus "cattle" analogy, this solution provides you with the tools required to run your applications like "cattle", not "pets".

    Why Kubernetes on CenturyLink Cloud?

    CenturyLink’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offers on-demand virtual and...

    Read on...

    Capacity Planning for Cloud Platforms, Part 1

    February 29, 2016
    By Ryan Kirk, Principal Data Scientist, CenturyLink Cloud

    cloudCP

    What is capacity planning for the cloud, why does this problem matter?

    The cloud promises to provide scale-free access to a variety of platforms, services, and infrastructures. This is especially true for customers who want to trade the expensive “cost of assets” and their management for the much smaller “incremental just-in-time” ability to grow their own applications and technologies, as dictated by the requirements of their business. The need for an underlying set of computational resources is common to all of the offerings on cloud ecosystems. Essentially, providers require a solution that can accurately predict the projected levels of demand needs to coincide with current operational processes to aid in capacity planning and load.

    Capacity planning for cloud platforms is both similar to and different from “on-premises” capacity planning. It is similar in that we can project our future expectations based upon our current utilization patterns. However, it is different for at least two substantial reasons. Firstly, cloud platforms represent a large, often global network of interconnected devices - this means that accurate forecasts initially require building a map of the network and devices based both upon device hierarchy and device function. Secondly, cloud platforms allow the consumption of each customer to...

    Read on...

    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 ElasticBox 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 ElasticBox.

    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 Keystone v3 without domains...

    Read on...

    New ElasticBox Updates: Visual Insights and Custom Box Branding

    January 26, 2016
    By Brannan Matherson

    Icon Picker

    With the latest update from ElasticBox, 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 Viewer gives...

    Read on...

    How to Deliver Applications with High Availability

    December 17, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    High Availability

    How many times have you felt less-than-confident about the stability of your most critical applications in case of a disaster? We have all experienced the frustration of losing control of our systems, processes, applications and infrastructure resources while not being able to easily recover from downtime (planned or unplanned).

    With the latest release of ElasticBox, those times have come to an end.

    ElasticBox has expanded its support to a new type of deployment in case of a scenario where a failover is needed. Our appliance supports an active/passive topology. So…how does it work?

    The recommended way to implement this capability is to run a two-node cluster (the main node and the backup node which has the data shared). This active/passive configuration offers resiliency in the event of a failover and is fairly easy to operate, as the back-up node can be activated and configured so you can continue working normally. Important considerations to get you started!

    Make a snapshot of your ElasticBox VM so you can recover to the previous instance before setting a new appliance as replica. Once a failure is detected, you can execute the failover via scripts and ensure that no data is lost or compromised.

    Let’s review each step:

    Step 1: Start converting...

    Read on...

    Hybrid IT: Why Cloud Delivery Matters

    December 16, 2015
    By David Shacochis

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

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

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

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

    Read on...

    Colocation: Why Go There?

    December 14, 2015
    By Matt Farrell

    Colocation-globe

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

    What is Colocation?

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

    Read on...

    Taking a Different Look at WordPress

    December 7, 2015
    By Andy Watson

    what-is-wordpress.png

    What is WordPress?

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

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

    Ways to Integrate WordPress on CenturyLink Cloud

    WordPress - Blueprint

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

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

    Read on...

    Deliver Leading Hybrid Cloud Management for Business Critical Applications

    November 19, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Visualization

    New application architecture visualization advances enterprise deployment and management.

    We’ve heard your feedback loud and clear. And as such, today marks the formal release of ElasticBox 3.5 which is filled with new capabilities to enable IT to drive value, productivity and confidence throughout the enterprise. As a result, we continue to focus on the enhancements that simplifies the daily routine of IT experts by providing a highly adaptive model for standardizing the process of deployments and environment provisioning.

    Company Feedback
    451 Research “ElasticBox does a good job of supporting the application deployment process and infrastructure management with its self-service portal and box blueprints for popular and widely-used software components, including containers. This means application owners and IT operations can more effectively collaborate on applications and releases with visualization for traditional, production, mission-critical and multi-tiered applications.” ~ Jay Lyman, Research Manager, Cloud Management and Containers, 451 Research
    Brainshark “ElasticBox allows us to create predictable and repeatable processes removing the need for manual infrastructure provisioning and configuration. The solution offers a very powerful IT workflow and provisioning automation platform combined with an intuitive user interface we are proud to expose to our internal customers. Adding ElasticBox to our continuous delivery pipeline has virtually eliminated the human element from our application
    ...

    Read on...

    Colocation Buyer’s Guide

    November 19, 2015
    By Joseph Nguyen

    Colocation-globe

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

    Meet with the Prospective Teams

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

    Schedule a site visit.

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

    Read on...

    Preview Application Boxes: Deploy Like Never Before

    November 4, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Application

    A couple of months ago, we announced general availability of public boxes, a knowledge repository of sample deployments for popular application stacks.

    But, we couldn’t just leave it there because we know that customers want more. How about simplifying your application deployment processes? ElasticBox is now enabling customers to deploy complete application stacks with Application Boxes which include all of the dependent components and infrastructure that can be deployed in a predictable manner.

    Application boxes are inspired by the need to reduce and simplify the deployment of complex applications with multiple tiers and multiple instances. To deploy most applications, you need several instances cooperating together in a logical way. Application boxes are a way to define and reuse several boxes that work together to run an application.

    App Box

    Application boxes are smart boxes that allow you to define your topology, add boxes and bindings, and choose the variables for each one: name, version, tags, policy, etc in only a few minutes. Modeling your applications in these easy-to-deploy boxes prevents errors and saves time. Isn’t it magical?

    Get a step closer to democratizing software automation configuration and infrastructure. Learn more about Application Boxes and how they work. Create one of your own here.

    Want to Learn

    ...

    Read on...

    Time to Plan Your IPv6 Transition!

    October 14, 2015
    By Marla Ankenman

    IPv6andIPv4

    For several years now, the question around the shift to IPv6 has been "When?" NOT "If". As of September 24th 2015, the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) announced it had issued final IPv4 addresses and the free pool for IPv4 addresses had reached “zero.” The time to prepare for your businesses' IPv6 transition is now!

    Why Now is the Time to Start Planning

    While a majority of the world's devices today are not yet compatible with IPv6, dual-stack technology ensures that legacy IPv4 devices will still work for the foreseeable future. However, soon IPv6 will be the only option for adding new devices or hosts on the Internet. Understanding the background behind IPv4 and the benefits of IPv6 are the first steps in proactive planning.

    IPv4

    Computers use Internet Protocol (IP) to find one another and permit communication. IP Version 4 (IPv4) was developed in the early 1980s during a much simpler time in Internet evolution. At that time, 4 billion addresses seemed like a huge number! Since then, the number of computers attached to the Internet has multiplied many times over. Plus, our vehicles and many devices in our homes and pockets use network connections. With the growing trend toward the Internet of...

    Read on...

    What Biotech Service Cytobank Did to Save $$$ and Boost Efficiency

    September 22, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Cytobank

    Today, we are proud to highlight the success story of one of our biotech customers, Cytobank. Cytobank is a cloud biopharma service that supports research labs around the world. We spoke to Robin Lee Powell, Director of IT Operations at Cytobank who shared how they leverage ElasticBox to save on infrastructure costs and increase team efficiency.

    Cytobank helps researchers study life-threatening diseases such as cancer. Scientists around the globe rely on Cytobank to organize, share, and analyze single-cell cytometry data on a massive scale. Visualizing single-cell data involves loads of data transfer and often heavy computations between the client and the backend. On top of that, each customer site is completely isolated and unique from another. Cytobank not only serves customer labs but also provides demo, development and QA environments for their offshore team to test site changes.

    All this complexity requires high capacity resources for many uniquely configured site environments. Since the requirements and resource demands of each site vary uniquely, live usage metrics helps determine when to scale resources up or down. To fulfill the unique demands of customer, demo, and QA site environments, Cytobank leverages ElasticBox as an integrated platform.

    Self-Service Catalog to Scale Efficiently

    At Cytobank, a small IT operations...

    Read on...

    How to Achieve the Top 3 IT Ops Objectives

    September 15, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Jenkins Logo

    Back from an exciting week at the Jenkins User Conference in Santa Clara, I want to thank all of you who stopped by the ElasticBox booth to share your thoughts and questions. From the 600+ attendees representing various enterprises, some key themes emerged that reflect their IT organizational challenges and objectives. I’ll go over the top three.

    A Desire to Increase Deployment Frequency

    Gene Kim, a keynote speaker at the conference rightly, said, “Deploy smaller changes more frequently.” While most enterprises deploy applications in some form or fashion, a huge amount of manual tasks and steps slows down the process. It’s a combination of a process and tools issue.

    Confidence in Successful Deployments

    Many IT and DevOps teams experience sleepless nights and get on pins-and-needles when it is time to deploy into production. Reducing errors, predictability and stable applications in production are key. As Gene Kim said at the conference, “At the end of each spring, we must have working and shippable code… demonstrated in an environment that resembles production.”

    Faster Lead-Time to Deployment

    Not only are frequent deployments a good thing, but reducing the overall time of a single deployment is a major IT goal. Deployment orchestration is the next step in driving efficiency over...

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    Corporate IT: Transformative Agent or Roadblock?

    September 10, 2015
    By Pat Brennan

    Cloud Takes Business Agility and Flexibility to New Heights

    How does IT BECOME the business?

    For many CEOs, the question is no longer “if” information technology will impact their business – it’s by how much. Data is being produced and replicated at unprecedented speeds, ushering in a new age of IT growth. The emergence of cloud, big data and IoT is transforming the data center, and those who capitalize on this technology movement stand to gain significant competitive advantage. As the ultimate goal is to maximize efficiencies, cut costs, and drive revenue – cloud and “as-a-service” models now put corporate IT in the unique position of becoming a transformative change agent in business.

    Global businesses are in the midst of a “Third Industrial Revolution,” where competitive advantage comes from capitalizing on the new digital infrastructure and massive amounts of data flowing across it. As our recent e-Book points out, this digital transformation is empowering companies to move faster, serve customers in new ways, and create expanded opportunities for growth and innovation. Perhaps that’s why Bessemer Venture Partners pegs the cloud computing market at nearly $128 billion by 2018 – a 22.8 percent growth rate. A survey of large and mid-sized corporations by...

    Read on...

    3 Steps to Connect Service Bindings of Complex Deployments

    September 9, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Bindings

    Bindings make it easy to connect services together. They enable components of large-scale, multi-tier applications to interconnect in a virtual cloud deployment that can span hybrid clouds. Recently, ElasticBox made bindings even more powerful. Now at deploy time, services can automatically detect dependencies — with the help of binding tags.

    Binding tags boost complex deployments in a couple of ways:

    • Dynamic bindings. Tagged bindings discover instance connectivity dynamically. They serve as an auto-discovery mechanism where instances with binding tags can automatically connect to other instances that match those tags.
    • One to many bindings. Bindings can connect one or many services together, again, using tags. Previously, every connection required an exclusive binding. But that’s no longer necessary.

    We’ll use an example to see how bindings work. Let’s suppose that an Nginx loadbalancer needs to detect freshly launched Node.js instances and automatically add them to its loadbalancing pool. We do three things to achieve this scenario. The first two are part of box automation:

  • Define binding variables

  • Configure bindings for your application

  • Tag bindings for instance connectivity

  • Step 1. Define Binding Variables

    Bindings are defined as variables in box automation. In the Nginx loadbalancer box, for example, we defined that the binding can connect to instances of the Node.js...

    Read on...

    Open DevOps automation catalog for cloud deployments — Now Available

    September 2, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Open DevOps

    ElasticBox brings you public boxes, a knowledge repository of sample deployments for popular application stacks. Public boxes are now freely available to all. Explore simplified automation and deploy in minutes without writing code.

    As a DevOps or operations engineer, you often get code thrown at you last minute to make it work in staging or production. Not enough thought is given to operational considerations like storage, access control, backups, networking, high availability, maintenance, security, and other aspects. Testing in a development environment is one thing, but a totally different ball game when it comes to production. One way to resolve this disparity is to provide engineering teams a ready-made deployment catalog with matching infrastructure deployment policies with which they can self-service one-click environments to push code to development, staging, as well as production.

    Public boxes enable you to give developers the freedom to innovate while you ensure that deployments follow company approved practices and budgeting guidelines as well as operational best practices.

    What’s the benefit of Public Boxes? Simplifying deployments?

    At the core of any automated deployment are scripts that make the magic happen behind the curtain. This magic can range anywhere from connecting to a GitHub repo to pull down your...

    Read on...

    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...

    Read on...

    Why Is the Developer’s Dream an Operations Nightmare?

    August 19, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Face Palm

    As a developer at ElasticBox, I wear the IT Ops hat just as often as I spend time writing code. So I understand all too well the pain IT Ops endure to keep things running smoothly after a production update. In the continuous delivery world where small, incremental code changes are deployed every day, chances are that IT Ops have to constantly put out fires. Luckily, in my own job, I’ve been able to leverage a combo of tools and workflows to catch the problems right where they originate — in the development environment.

    Defining Reusable Components for the Development Stack

    I believe that a developer’s dream should not turn into a nightmare for IT Ops. So I rely on a set of workflow and tools that help IT Ops like me sleep better at night. One such method is to provide a base level environment for the development stack. This stack usually comprises a company-approved base level runtime that is tested and production certified. The idea is that when it’s time to push updates in staging or production, the code is more stable and less likely to involve bugs or errors.

    Let me give a simple example. At ElasticBox, we want developers...

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    Control Public and Private Cloud Spend with Cost Center Budgeting

    August 4, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Control Cloud Spending

    Managing the IT spend for multiple teams across multiple cloud services is a daunting prospect, particularly, when you have to monitor usage for each cloud and team. Cloud environments promise scalable, pay-as-you-use pricing, and easy setup. On the flip side, organizations running workloads on multiple platforms and hybrid clouds lack visibility, which is critical to cost governance and understanding the total cost of ownership (TCO). ElasticBox can help you gain visibility and control over the foggy world of cloud deployments with the help of Cost Centers.

    Suppose you want to monitor what developers consume as part of testing on Amazon cloud or a private datacenter like vSphere or OpenStack. There are three ways to control cloud spend:

  • Monitoring usage

  • Applying usage limits

  • Enforcing limits

  • Overspending mainly occurs when people forget to turn off machines, which can happen time to time. Using the 3-step approach you can keep on top of cloud costs and inform developers when they’re close to hitting the allowed quota.

    Monitor Usage and Apply Limits

    So the first step is to set up a way to monitor and measure cloud spending. In ElasticBox, you do this in the Admin Console under Cost Centers. A cost center represents the users, teams or projects in your...

    Read on...

    How to Securely Hook Up a Cloud Management Platform in Your Private Datacenter

    July 30, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Platform Security

    Most customers prefer cloud application lifecycle management as a SaaS service. But we’re conscious of companies whose high-security constraints like limited datacenter Internet access or fully controlled periodic backups require an on-premise solution. For those companies and DevOps users, ElasticBox is available as a virtual appliance.

    Today, the ElasticBox virtual appliance is an OVF package for vCenter vSphere and in QCOW2 format for OpenStack. To get access to all the same functionality as the SaaS solution, the only thing you have to do is install the virtual appliance in your virtual platform and plug into your datacenter network. At which point, you experience ElasticBox hosted on your infrastructure where you get the same controls to manage, backup, and restore as you do on other systems in your datacenter.

    At ElasticBox, we care deeply about security and for this reason all the communication for the SaaS and the virtual appliance solutions are encrypted. By default, we ship the virtual appliance with a certificate signed by ElasticBox. But using the appliance setup console, you can set up a certificate signed by a trusted CA or install your self-signed certificate.

    To create and install a self-signed certificate in the ElasticBox virtual appliance, follow these steps:

  • Install the

  • ...

    Read on...

    NTT Cloud Reality Check Reveals Global Enterprise Challenges to Cloud Adoption

    July 23, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    NTT Cloud Reality Check

    Earlier this year, NTT communications commissioned a poll of 1600 ICT decision makers including IT directors, CIOs, CTOs across the USA and Europe. These are people in charge of setting tactical and strategic policies for development teams. The NTT poll asked them various questions such as which applications best suit which infrastructure? Is there a link between application maturity and applications that suit the cloud versus corporate datacenter?

    The results from the poll and the analysis form the highlights of the NTT Cloud Reality Check report. The report shows key trends by country, industry, as well as by company size. We asked Len Padilla Vice President Product Strategy at NTT Europe about some of the key insights.

    NTT found that the ‘which cloud’ decision is not merely a technical one but a complex one. Can you explain?

    Let me give a little bit of background on the research first. What we were looking for with the research and the survey was to understand in which environment people were putting what kinds of applications.

    Remote IT is a spectrum with a lot of available options. We encountered everything from customers running applications in their datacenter and managing it themselves to having their datacenter and having...

    Read on...

    A Primer on Private, Hybrid, or Public Cloud Deployments in vCloud

    July 21, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    vCloud Blog

    If you are familiar with vCenter and vSphere, you’ve probably heard of vCloud Director and vCloud Air, or even plan to migrate your existing vSphere platform to vCloud. But for those new to vCloud, what is it?

    Here I’ll explain both vCloud Air and vCloud Director. vCloud Air is a hybrid cloud platform for high-performance production workloads. It provides virtual compute, storage, and networking infrastructure built on VMware vSphere. It offers services such as virtual private cloud, dedicated cloud, and disaster recovery, and is available both by subscription and on demand.

    vCloud Director, on the other hand, helps with building secure private clouds. Since it runs on the top of vCenter, it hides vCenter cluster resources from the vCloud users thereby providing a level of abstraction.

    Support for vCloud in ElasticBox

    ElasticBox integrates both vCloud Air and vCloud Director through the VMware vCloud Director API, which also works with vCloud Air. To start deploying workloads to either platform, register your vCloud Director or vCloud Air account as a provider in ElasticBox. ElasticBox identifies the organizations, virtual datacenters, and catalogs the user account can access and makes them available for automated deployments from ElasticBox.

    Add vCloud Provider

    How vCloud Director and vCloud Air Work

    As a vCloud administrator, you manage...

    Read on...

    Different Hosts for Different Folks – Agile Infrastructure Services & You

    July 16, 2015
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Management

    Take a look at the application portfolio of any enterprise. The range and diversity is astounding. You’ll see apps running on many types of infrastructure (mainframes, physical servers, virtualized), and in different physical locations (on-premises, colocation, in the public cloud).

    Layer in different development languages, the desire for managed services, plus security and compliance considerations by application – and it’s easy to see why IT pros yearn for simplicity and efficiency in day-to-day management.

    And that’s just the legacy “keep the business running” stuff. What about the new, transformative apps that differentiate the business? Analytics, Hadoop, mobile, and cloud-native apps are a different challenge that require a different mindset.

    Our goal at CenturyLink is to dramatically simplify the management of infrastructure that powers all these scenarios, and do it in a way that delivers a competitive advantage for the enterprise.

    Today, we take a big step towards that goal.

    Two new products join our flagship public and private VM-based services in the CenturyLink Cloud: bare metal (physical servers, on-demand) and AppFog (multi-tenant Cloud Foundry).

    These four “core” capabilities offer customers the flexibility to use the right service based on their application characteristics: underlying architecture, elasticity needs, sensitivity of data, and level of isolation required.

    What’s more, they...

    Read on...

    3 Fundamental Ways ElasticBox Can Impact Your Bottom Line

    July 9, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Soccer Net

    Watching the women’s world cup final last weekend was thrilling. Of course it was fun to see the USA women’s team win the soccer championship (football for those living outside of the US). Having coached my son’s soccer team for many years, I was awed by the team’s mastery of soccer fundamentals and appreciated how much drilling and practice led them to the championship.

    In business, the win isn’t always so crystal clear. From the executive suite, the demand on application teams and DevOps is to deliver faster, with higher quality. That’s the win – the outcome. To achieve that outcome, it’s necessary to drill, practice, and master the fundamentals of agile delivery.

    At the heart of agile delivery, DevOps’ promise is “speed to value” for organizations. This is what businesses are seeking as they’re under pressure to deliver faster speed to value. There’s a lot of discussion swirling about how to do it and how to measure the ROI. In speaking with enterprise prospects and customers, it’s clear that while it would be awesome to have a sophisticated model to measure the ROI of DevOps tools and resources, most teams are seeking foundational progress.

    1. “Our deployment process is chaotic and not...

    Read on...

    The Cloud Application Cycle Is Broken — Can It Be Fixed?

    June 30, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Open Source

    I’ve had the honor of sitting in the same room with many customers and prospects who share their business models and technology challenges. In the exact words of one of our customers, “Our cloud deployment is a horrendous process.” From others, “Our developers work in their own private cloud, and they send us the release code and it takes us days to weeks to get it running in production.”

    Doesn’t the cloud promise faster, more agile development with reduced costs? Why then isn’t this promise being fulfilled at most companies adopting DevOps and cloud?

    Why Is It Broken?

    I keep hearing a recurring theme. Heavy use of open source tools and development and production environments that don’t mirror each other. Developers have their favorite list of tools and operations theirs. Neither group understands how to use and configure the tools the other group is using. Throw in multiple versions of these tools and it quickly becomes an unwieldy mess. Here’s a sample set of technologies and stacks we come across:

    We commonly see development teams using these technologies:

    • Python
    • MySQL
    • Git
    • Jenkins
    • MongoDB
    • Node.js
    • ADD MORE

    We commonly see operations teams using these technologies:

    • Chef
    • Puppet
    • Ansible
    • Nginx
    • Splunk
    • New Relic
    • AppDynamics
    • ADD MORE

    And we see development, test, QA, and production run on these clouds and platforms:

    • Amazon AWS
    • Google Compute
    • Microsoft Azure
    • VMware
    ...

    Read on...

    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 -

  • ...

    Read on...

    Seven Secrets to High Availability in the Cloud

    June 4, 2015
    By Kevin Yurica, Product Marketing Manager

    It’s no secret that enterprise applications are increasingly being operated in ‘cloudy’ environments. When systems are moved to the cloud, they often are moved partially or relocated in stages that are instep with the evolution of other IT systems. Even when traditional back-end enterprise systems such as ERP, data warehouse and similar systems remain entirely in-place, they’re increasingly being augmented or extended with vendor software and services that reside in the cloud. For example, many organizations have already integrated Salesforce.com into their back-end enterprise systems, and these back-end systems often reside on premise or in a colocation environment. Thus, Hybrid IT is already the current reality for many IT organizations and is on the road to becoming ubiquitous. Optimizing Hybrid IT architectures, from an availability perspective, is the central question considered here. If Hybrid IT is the new normal, then what are the implications for how we design and manage systems that run across multiple data centers in different locations? In a new whitepaper titled the ‘Seven Secrets to High Availability in the Cloud’, lessons are borrowed from distributed computing and applied to Hybrid IT scenarios which reveal opportunities for improving availability, despite growing complexity.

    The ‘Seven Secrets to High Availability...

    Read on...

    Secrets to Win Over DevOps Buyers

    June 1, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Buying Process

    In its recent report, Tech Go-to-Market: How to Win With DevOps Buyers, Gartner Research looks at the buying process of DevOps-centered organizations. And Gartner makes an important point. For technology providers to sell to organizations with a DevOps culture, traditional sales approaches don’t fly. In fact, developers and operations teams—whose synergy we collectively call DevOps—eschew traditional marketing and sales pitches. They are so technically discerning that they sniff out marketing lingo from a real product offering. The real danger is they can shun a product forever when it comes from marketing or sales channels. So what’s the best way to win over DevOps teams?

    Technology providers familiar with selling to traditional I&O (infrastructure and operations) teams find themselves on unfamiliar ground in a DevOps driven culture. A big change Gartner notes is that workloads increasingly migrate from the traditional datacenter to public or multi-cloud infrastructure like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, vSphere.

    Gartner found that migrating workloads to the public cloud shifts decision-making power away from the traditional IT buyers to DevOps and agile practitioners. These personas include developers, DevOps managers, release managers, build/automation managers, and architects who influence buying decisions bottom-up. Moreover, DevOps philosophies and practices vary so much from one organization...

    Read on...

    Welcome To The New IT

    May 12, 2015
    By Jon Reeve

    We are squarely in what I like to call the “2nd inning” of cloud. In my discussions with prospects and customers, the conversations have taken on a distinctly “enterprise” feel to them, reminding me of previous technology waves and disruptions, like client-server, and virtualization before. A new report from Frost and Sullivan outlines this shift, as the so called “new IT” tries to better align with the needs of the business and business outcomes.

    This starts with the business drivers themselves – while Cloud may have started as a great tool, providing on-demand access to scalable infrastructure resources to support dev/test and web app build outs, it has clearly progressed into something much more strategic.

    Frost and Sullivan demonstrate this very clearly with their survey of US-based IT decision-makers and the shift in attitudes in just 3 short years:

    Top Reasons Enterprises Choose Cloud, 2011 versus 2014

    2011 2014
    Defer server purchases, 46% Achieve IT flexibility and agility, 71%
    Defer/avoid data center expansion, 42% Deliver services and applications faster, 70%
    Achieve high return on investment, 35% Better support business needs, 68%

    Source: Frost & White, SPIE 14-26, Cloud Adoption Reaches a Long-Awaited Tipping Point 2014 Cloud User Survey (July 2014).

    The winds have acutely changed from tactical (defer server purchases) to...

    Read on...

    3 Golden Rules of Microservice Deployments

    May 7, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Honey Comb

    As a developer, you value the principles of SOA. You aspire to build applications as a set of consumable services via endpoints. Remember how Amazon used SOA to build the AWS platform and how Google is emulating AWS? However, not all is hunky-dory in the SOA world.

    Developing is one thing but running, managing, and maintaining services is a whole other beast. When it comes to the latter, many enterprises still act monolithic. They run and manage applications services as a unit on one or many servers. This approach fails to scale when the services themselves scale or when you need to update and maintain them regularly. So do you lament over the spiking costs and time spent on these efforts or fix the problem?

    Recent trends point to microservices as the answer. By definition, microservices are much smaller than services. In fact, Wikipedia says a microservice performs a small task often just one. There are many articles that go in deep about microservice architecture, but we cover an important part here, which is deployment automation. In other words, our daily job.

    The self-contained, independent, and reusable principles of microservice architecture help solve the problem of scaling and maintaining application services.

    • Self-contained. microservices are
    ...

    Read on...

    What’s the Cost of Build Versus Buy DevOps?

    May 5, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Honey Comb

    Nearly every business today relies on faster, innovative technology to succeed in the marketplace. How about the coffee you drink, or the movie you’re watching, or the phone on which you’re watching it? Name every business or walk of life. You can argue that technology serves to make it better. If DevOps helps deliver the best services and experiences to you, then should companies making the coffee, movies, and phones also make their own DevOps solutions?

    I completely empathize with the challenges the developers and DevOps teams face in transforming a team or company from traditional development and delivery to an agile lifecycle. I experienced this firsthand at Trend. I led a business unit that acquired a SaaS company for online backup and storage; this young company updated and deployed code several times a day. It was painful to integrate their processes into ours. I wish ElasticBox had been an option then. I cringe when I consider the time and costs of lost productivity, wasted development time, and delays in getting to market.

    Faster Deployment Nirvana

    Every day, I speak to several technology companies. Speed is at the top of their mind. They all experience the pain of not deploying and delivering applications...

    Read on...

    Clarifying the Cloud Costing Conundrum: New Open Source Tools Do the Trick

    April 23, 2015
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Manager

    A few years ago, understanding costs in the cloud was refreshingly simple: pay by the drink compute, storage and network. But as the market matured, it’s gotten more difficult.

    Vendors have begun to differentiate. Third-party add-ons have filled specific gaps in features. An explosion of providers are competing for an ever-larger chunk of budget from an increasingly diverse customer base.

    About a year ago, CenturyLink launched an online Cloud Total Cost of Ownership Tool with one simple goal: provide an unbiased apples-to-apples comparison between our offering and selected competitors. It has helped buyers understand the intricacies of the cloud computing market, and what the best value for them might be, even if it’s not CenturyLink.

    Centurylink Cloud Total Cost of Ownership Tool

    To increase the utility of this app, we’ve contributed the Cloud TCO Tool to the open-source world under the Apache 2 license. You can view the repo on Github.

    If this sounds familiar, it's because we did something similar with our Cloud Services Estimator.

    How does the TCO tool simplify cloud comparisons?

    Normalized Compute Performance

    Performance across providers is hard to compare for two key reasons:

    • Instance sizes. Some providers have a “T-shirt” model with fixed-instance sizes, while others offer the flexibility to resize on the fly.
    • Underlying hardware. Is your virtual machine running
    ...

    Read on...

    Automate Like Never Before with Perfect Vcenter Placement

    April 16, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    vCenter Placement

    I regularly consume resources from the VMware vCenter private cloud setup here at ElasticBox. I’m not alone in that. vCenter is the most commonly used private cloud out there. Enterprises and developers, you will see why the changes we recently made will help you scale automated deployments in vCenter.

    Those of you deploying to vCenter, you know about datacenters, templates, hosts, clusters, resource pools, compute resources, datastores, and such. ElasticBox simplifies vCenter deployments by abstracting these infrastructure metadata from application metadata in boxes. Infrastructure metadata is in the deployment profile that you select right before deploying. Here we made it easy to visualize exactly where in the vCenter you’d like to place your VM and consume resources.

    Placing Your VM

    Until recently, to deploy an instance in vCenter, you selected a datacenter and from it a resource pool and virtual network. If you had several clusters or standalone hosts not part of a resource pool, you did not see them. Now you do.

    Compute Resource

    Now you see even the clusters and standalone hosts not part of a resource pool in a datacenter. In effect, you can place your VM in a resource pool, a cluster, or a standalone host provided they exist of course.

    Allocating the

    ...

    Read on...

    AWS GovCloud and ElasticBox: A Complementary Union

    April 15, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    GovCloud

    AWS GovCloud is one of the several popular clouds where ElasticBox orchestrates and automates the lifecycle of applications. AWS GovCloud (US) is an isolated AWS Region for US government agencies and businesses to move sensitive workloads primarily because of regulatory and compliance requirements. If you’re curious about the use-cases for AWS GovCloud and the value ElasticBox adds, you’re at the right spot.

    Amazon GovCloud targets two kinds of usage:

    • Businesses that don’t have ITAR data but want to embrace the extra security layer in this region.
    • Government agencies or businesses with confidential data that must enforce regulatory compliance and security measures.

    AWS GovCloud Use Cases

    I’ll talk about some of the key scenarios where it makes sense to use AWS GovCloud:

    • High availability is important for mission critical apps in Oracle, SAP, and Windows. Such apps rely on fault-tolerant availability zones.
    • High-performance computing matters for apps that process big data. They need massive clusters to spin up and process large data loads in a very short time.
    • High data volume means higher primary and backup storage needs. Such storage should meet data security and compliance standards.
    • Web applications scale with user demand. Predictable workloads need reserved instances and in times of spikes, those payloads require on-demand resources.

    For all these...

    Read on...

    Self-Serve Ganglia Monitoring

    April 8, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Ganglia

    As an operations team engineer, monitoring virtual infrastructure health is a pretty big deal. You aim to catch and resolve issues for hardware, devices, storage, memory, network, hosts, and the like in computing grids and clusters very early on. Monitoring systems like Ganglia are a must-have for such purposes. I’ll show a quick setup of Ganglia monitoring via ElasticBox that you can add to any deployment and track infrastructure performance.

    In ElasticBox, built-in monitoring is available as a service in a self-serve catalog for your engineering and operations teams to launch to any cloud infrastructure on-demand. ElasticBox supports a wide range of configuration management tools, orchestrates provisioning on popular cloud providers, and allows teams to collaborate on deployment assets. If you follow or use ElasticBox, you know that complex deployments happen much faster in a few clicks versus long hours.

    Ganglia is a useful monitoring service for large-scale web applications. It provides distributed monitoring at scale for clusters and grids. It’s popular because it’s easy to set up and tracks a ton of metrics. It monitors computing systems including hardware, storage, network, and software. You can port metrics for alerting and visualization by integrating services like Nagios or use Ganglia’s built-in visualization.

    Here...

    Read on...

    Three-in-One Benefits of LDAP Integration

    March 31, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    LDAP

    LDAP Groups is a new feature soon coming to ElasticBox. It helps sync LDAP groups in your organization with ElasticBox workspaces. A team of users in your org can now sign in with their org credentials and right away start working in a team assigned workspace in ElasticBox.

    Consider how useful that is for your developers, operations engineers, or IT admins to access the same deployment assets and do their part in automating with necessary access levels.

    You already have LDAP single sign-on support in ElasticBox today. Coupled with LDAP groups, you get advanced LDAP integration. You will be able to sync with groups of any Active Directory or OpenLDAP implementation in ElasticBox. Through the ElasticBox web or API interface, you can directly add LDAP groups as members of a workspace instead of searching and adding them one by one.

    If using the ElasticBox Enterprise Edition with administrator access, you’ll find LDAP groups in the admin console. Once you sync with LDAP groups there, any user in your ElasticBox organization can edit their team workspace and search or add the LDAP groups or a specific member of the group.

    What Happens When LDAP Groups Change?

    You don’t need to worry. Such updates reflect seamlessly in...

    Read on...

    Why Infrastructure Matters, But Also Doesn’t

    March 27, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Secret Sauce

    Infrastructure is changing. It’s nearly impossible to design a product or application without carefully planning how it’ll deploy on specific infrastructure. I should know because in running a business that automates application deployments, I deal with infrastructure every day. So here’s my take on how I view infrastructure and its evolving changes.

    The notion of cloud computing and a dynamic datacenter has matured a lot in the past decade. First we moved from the monolithic IBM computers to datacenters on commodity servers. Now we’re on the journey of commoditizing and standardizing infrastructure.

    Cloud Reality Check

    A few years ago, when we envisioned what this journey would look like we said infrastructure is a commodity, we called the CIO defunct and said platforms-as-a-service would fully abstract infrastructure. But look at the cloud reality now.

    • Infrastructure is a differentiating game. Though most providers offer the same things like rich computing types, software-driven networking (SDN), software-driven storage (SDS), some rate better in certain areas.
    • The CIO’s role is not redundant. She leads an important DevOps cultural transformation in the enterprise.
    • Platform as a service is only one part of the IaaS journey. Infrastructure is starting to become just like code in templates and containers.

    Cloud Provider Capabilities

    And the capabilities keep...

    Read on...

    Go Undercover with the ElasticBox Agent

    March 24, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Agent Architecture

    It’s no secret that ElasticBox performs deployments on your remote virtual machines using an agent. But what goes on behind the scenes? What makes the agent tick? Join me for a deep dive.

    Though not visibly apparent, when you trigger deployments from the web or API, the agent is the software we install on every virtual machine you deploy from ElasticBox. Its sole purpose is to handle box deployments on the VM or service. It executes event scripts and runs lifecycle operations from the web or API calls. By itself the agent does not contain any other logic. It executes whatever ElasticBox tells it to do and sends back the logs of the output.

    Agent Architecture

    We built the agent based on three important principles of software architecture:

    • To be platform interoperable, that is, work on any OS or platform.
    • To be network interoperable, that is, communicate over any network configuration easily.
    • To cover a small footprint, that is, consume the least amount of machine resources.

    Platform interoperability is pretty important. The agent works across all platforms on any OS and runtime libraries. It works cross-platform because it’s written in Python, and doesn’t require any dependencies.

    Agent Enhancements

    In recent times, we made vast changes to the agent.

    Before, the...

    Read on...

    Semantic Versioning and Auto Updates: Your Backbone to Innovate

    March 19, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Versioning

    Versioning is a critical part of software development. It gains in importance as team sizes and complexity of projects scale. Tools like Perforce, Subversion, GitHub, which attracts the most users, address this challenge. Imagine the challenge of managing version control for software automation. In the soon to come release in ElasticBox, we addressed versioning challenges in a big way.

    Versioning for Deployment Automation

    Versioning in the context of application deployment automation is huge. For one, with a solution like ElasticBox, many people in different DevOps roles across an organization need access to a given deployment configuration. As technologies evolve, so must capabilities of the applications and virtual infrastructure. To keep current environments running and stable while you improve and innovate for the future, you need to collaborate, build on top of existing configuration and at the same time preserve the old and the new.

    Though features like collaboration in ElasticBox help people participate in creating content, versioning is the built-in capability that helps DevOps users and organizations manage changes smoothly and track what changed, who did what. Versioning systematically controls the chaos of ever changing applications as well as the infrastructure on which they deploy.

    Semantics of Versioning

    In our upcoming release of box types,...

    Read on...

    Deployment Policies Give Access to Cloud Infrastructure Resources

    March 17, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Diagram

    I’m excited to talk about new features coming soon to ElasticBox. Whether you’re new or have been using ElasticBox for a while to auto-provision infrastructure or speed up automatic deployments, this post will interest you.

    In talking to many of our customers, we came across a common theme. While deployment profiles, which spell out all the metadata for a deployment on a particular cloud, are very useful to configure infrastructure, customers want to do more. They want to share deployment profiles and intuitively give access to a well-defined set of provider resources without giving access to the entire cloud provider.

    To address these needs, we re-imagined our approach to defining and giving access to deployment metadata. Instead of thinking of them as tightly-coupled attributes of a box (a box is like a template that defines automation for an application or a micro component), we evolved deployment profiles to deployment policy boxes.

    Boxes as you know them are now going to be ‘script boxes’. And deploying a script box will follow the same exact flow as deploying a box today. The only difference is at deploy time, you will select a deployment policy box instead of a deployment profile.

    PHP

    It’s easy to create a deployment...

    Read on...

    More Than One Way to Do Cloud Bursting

    March 10, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Cloud Bursting

    Cloud Bursting is a hot topic in cloud computing today. It’s a model that gauges an organization’s ability to use internal resources to host services critical to their business, and during demand spikes consume resources from public clouds on a pay-as-you-go approach.

    Cloud Bursting Use Cases

    Today only a handful of businesses face real cloud bursting challenges because of their special use cases. They run the sort of applications where the burst is high due to compute-intensive processes like image processing, scientific computing, monthly calculations, and such or relate to running the development, test environments. Since the latter typically don’t involve client data, they are not subject to strict regulatory compliance, which means you can run them on any infrastructure.

    Support Model

    To support a strong cloud bursting model, several parts must come together:

    • Shared network between the public clouds and the datacenter.
    • Automated and repeatable deployments to launch to the required clouds regardless of platform differences.
    • Single management console to consistently support and maintain all deployment artifacts.
    • Ability to specify the amount, ratio, and priority of cloud resources the applications can consume.
    • Ability to identify the load needs of an application and configure them into the tools that manage scaling.

    Most cloud providers offer the first piece today, either...

    Read on...

    Cloud Services Estimator: Now Open Source for the Channel

    February 24, 2015
    By Nathan Young, Creative Director

    CenturyLink Cloud Price Estimator

    The advent of cloud computing has brought about one of the largest business opportunities in decades for managed services providers, system integrators and VARs many of whom have adapted their business models to offer the agility provided by elastic infrastructure.

    CenturyLink has been a popular destination for enterprises and partners alike, with some of our partners choosing to white label and resell our product. The capabilities that enable this are a major differentiator of our platform. We constantly look for ways to enable our partners to pass value onto their customers and today we are happy to add another tool to their belt.

    We are pleased to announce that we are contributing our Cloud Cost Estimator tool to the open-source community under the Apache 2 license. This web app makes it easy to estimate a monthly bill for a customized set of resources on the CenturyLink Cloud service.

    As we’ve marketed cloud to our own end user customers, this estimator has been an invaluable tool to help buyers understand the costs associated with building and managing apps in the cloud. Deep visibility and monitoring coupled with showback and chargeback capabilities extend the value once resources are up and running.

    Now, our channel partners can...

    Read on...

    Stay on Top of Scheduled Instances with Notifications

    February 24, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Scheduler Notification

    I bet you save on deployment costs today with the Instance Scheduler. But did you know you can keep track of when they expire?

    A couple of months ago, we introduced the Instance Scheduler that lets you set custom shutdown and termination policies in ElasticBox when launching an instance. This type of scheduling is great to test a new deployment configuration or to spin up a test or development environment for a limited timespan.

    Scheduling is an effective way to control and manage resources and costs within an organization. However, there’s still a nagging question. How to know when the instances you’re working on will shut down or terminate? As a developer or operations engineer, I’d like to be notified some time before the scheduled instances that I have access to go offline or get decommissioned. Especially if I don’t have control over them, I need to ask the instance owner for more time, or prioritize work that requires those instances.

    Email Notification Service

    To address this need, ElasticBox added a feature to notify the instance owners or collaborators by email of scheduled instances that are going to expire soon. Each day, around 12 pm UTC (4 am PST), those users with instances scheduled...

    Read on...

    All the Storage You Need for Large-Scale Deployments

    February 20, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Automate Storage

    Large-scale deployments are a pain when you think of the many things that can go wrong. That’s why we’re here to ease the pain with deployment automation. I want to focus this post on block storage specifically for EC2 and on how you can set it up in advance to scale automated deployments.

    Amazon Web Services provides block devices called Elastic Block Storage (EBS) that range in gigabytes to terabytes in size at a pay-as-you-use cost. This type of storage gives instances far greater storage flexibility. The default volume on an EC2 instance generally assumes the lifespan of the instance, which means the data disappears once the instance does. Volumes, on the other hand, can persist in the after-life of the instance and make the data available for future use. You can take volume snapshots for backup or attach a volume to another instance, for example.

    EBS Volume Types

    Amazon offers three EBS types: Magnetic, General Purpose (SSD), and Provisioned IOPS (SSD).

    • The Magnetic disk is the default volume of an EC2 instance and the lowest cost option if you don’t need high read performance and are okay with sequential I/O. It’s a good option to store log files (if you don’t use message
    ...

    Read on...

    How to Deploy Pain-Free on OS X and Solaris OS Platforms

    February 17, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Solaris OSX

    OS X and Solaris are two of my favorite platforms for developing native Apple and Node.js applications. Thanks to the deployment support for OS X and Solaris in ElasticBox, today I can easily solve a common problem many developers like me face when coding in these environments.

    Here’s the problem: How do I integrate with Jenkins to automatically build the lifecycle of the application I’m coding so I can test and integrate code into different environments smoothly?

    Deploying on OS X

    When I develop native applications for Apple platforms (OS X or iOS), I need an OS X platform and the XCode tools to build and test my application. On top of this, I need VM instances to run builds and unit test the code in my development branch. So a private cloud like vSphere is the best scenario to do both. It allows me to create and dispose of OS X machine instances in an agile and flexible way.

    The support for OS X in ElasticBox makes things easy for me. I can quickly automate the way applications deploy on an Apple platform and share that process with other developers in the organization. As a result, all our development environments are set up...

    Read on...

    Learn How to Configure OpenStack Block Storage the Easy Way

    February 6, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    OpenStack Logo

    Early this week we talked about OpenStack as a popular choice to deploy both to public and private clouds because of its unified platform. We explained that ElasticBox auto provisions your workloads predictably no matter where you deploy. Today, we talk about how to auto configure storage for your OpenStack deployments.

    Storage for OpenStack

    First of all, to configure storage in OpenStack, you need to activate Cinder or block storage. A nice thing about automating deployments through ElasticBox is you don’t have to configure disk storage separately. Along with the rest of the deployment, specify the volume storage with a simple add button and let ElasticBox do the brunt of the work like clockwork.

    We’ll show how to add volumes when you set up your deployment in your private OpenStack cloud or publicly managed HP Cloud through the ElasticBox deployment profile. There are two types of volumes you can add, an image or a hard disk volume.

    Hard Volumes

    Click Add in the Additional Volumes section and set the disk size for each volume. Extra volume for an instance means you can store information such as databases or logs. It means you can move data from one instance to another. Or just means get bigger...

    Read on...

    Pets & Cattle: Self-Service VM Import Makes the Case for Co-Existence

    February 4, 2015
    By Jared Ruckle

    Metaphors are common in tech. They help explain new concepts to the masses in familiar terms. The most common cloud metaphor? Pets and cattle – often used to underscore how users should think differently about infrastructure and application design patterns in the cloud. The phrase was first publicized by Randy Bias (more good reading on the topic is here and here).

    Cattle

    SHERBURN, MN

    Cloud-native apps — in the enterprise and otherwise — are almost exclusively run on instances best described as cattle. Why the term cattle?

    • Cattle are given numbers
    • They are similar to other cattle
    • When one gets sick, you get another one

    Instances that are cattle can be quickly destroyed and replaced thanks to automation and modern application architecture.

    Startups tend to use cattle for their flagship IP, with SaaS products to run their IT ops.

    Go even further, and platform-as-a-service offerings like Cloud Foundry abstracts the management of cattle away altogether.

    Pets

    Exploring Kittens

    In contrast, VMs that are pets are given names, and cared for extensively in the hopes of a long and happy life. Pets are more common in the enterprise world, where there’s an incumbent application portfolio that’s broad, diverse, and highly fragmented.

    • Pets are given names like pussinboots.cern.ch
    • They are unique, lovingly hand raised and
    ...

    Read on...

    Rackspace or HP Cloud? Host on Your Favorite OpenStack Flavor

    February 3, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Pick Your Flavor

    Today, Rackspace and HP Cloud are popular public clouds based on OpenStack. To run your workloads on OpenStack, find out if ElasticBox is the right DevOps platform.

    OpenStack is an open source infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud platform. While providers in the ecosystem like Rackspace and HP Cloud built public clouds, some organizations build their private clouds using OpenStack. All these cloud implementations share the same common OpenStack platform. That’s why those organizations find it easy to manage their deployment workloads in any OpenStack model, be it private, public, or hybrid.

    Auto-Provision and Orchestrate

    By all means, you can implement a private cloud using OpenStack, or go the managed hosting route with Rackspace or HP Cloud. In either case, you expend a lot of valuable time and resources to manually provision servers and set up machines to handle workloads. On top of infrastructure costs, you incur a lot of IT setup overhead.

    Wouldn’t you prefer to offload this work and speed up your deployments, automate all the remote provisioning and orchestrating? As you’ll see below, a few steps is all it takes in ElasticBox to auto-provision and orchestrate application workloads remotely.

    Deploy to Rackspace or HP Cloud in 4 Easy ElasticBox Steps

  • Add a provider.

  • ...

    Read on...

    Use Cloud Network Service for Making Hybrid Cloud a Reality

    January 27, 2015
    By Robert Lesieur, Director of Product Management

    Enterprises and large organizations are quickly adopting hybrid clouds in order to balance agility, cost of operations, and security requirements. Gartner predicts that 50% of all enterprises will use hybrid cloud by 2017. Public cloud offers a balance of agility and control for applications that require continuous development methodologies and flexible scaling, while private clouds provide extensive security and compliance features, as well as low cost models for steady capacity applications. Tying these models together requires thoughtful networking.

    CenturyLink's Cloud Network Service (CNS) is the unifying element tying public or private cloud together with dedicated hosting or colocation options into a hybrid cloud. It’s a robust Ethernet data center network service that is delivered in either a shared or dedicated model, with a menu of options carefully chosen to meet the needs of the vast majority of our customers.

    In addition to providing connectivity amongst heterogeneous compute islands such as public cloud, colocation and dedicated hosting, CNS provides the ability to chain enhanced services such as load balancers, firewalls and WAN services such as CenturyLink IQ, CenturyLink’s MPLS circuit products. (note: CNS itself does not provide WAN capabilities.). Customers experience a significant reduction in the complexity and cost of private...

    Read on...

    SoftLayer in ElasticBox: Deployments Made Easy

    January 22, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    SoftLayer Logo

    Isn’t freedom a beautiful thing? Think zero lock-in with IaaS and PaaS cloud vendors and cross-cloud workload compatibility. Well, that’s the kind of freedom you experience when you host on the IBM SoftLayer public cloud through ElasticBox.

    ElasticBox supports SoftLayer like many popular clouds. Besides SoftLayer, we automate applications and manage their lifecycle on clouds including AWS, Google Cloud, Azure, VMware vCenter, OpenStack, CloudStack, Rackspace, and HP Cloud.

    Developers Focus on Applications

    As a developer, you shouldn’t have to care about machine resources or infrastructure provisioning. You care about what matters most like getting your development environment set up fast. You care about deploying and testing complex application stacks quickly. You care about running Jenkins builds to deploy reliably and rapidly in staging and production.

    IT Operations Focus on Infrastructure

    On the infrastructure side, as IT operations you care about how much resources developer teams consume, how to provision specific services, what ready-to-consume services to provide on top of OS platforms.

    Whether you automate through a user interface or do it through API calls, in ElasticBox you provision infrastructure resources through settings that are common to all cloud providers.

    Deploying to SoftLayer

    SoftLayer deployments are no exceptions. When launching workloads, developers pick Linux or Windows infrastructure resources like...

    Read on...

    Turn IT into a Service Catalog

    January 16, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Service Catalog

    Unless you live under a rock in the world of cloud computing, you’re probably aware of a growing generational gap between public clouds and enterprise IT.

    Public Clouds Versus Enterprise IT

    Consider the size of budgets public cloud companies invest in R&D. The budgets are astronomically huge when you compare to the budget of a typical enterprise IT. This economy of scale is only going to widen with time. Most enterprises will be unable to match the scale or technical expertise of public clouds in their private datacenters.

    This gap forces innovative developers in enterprises to play mavericks. They bypass traditional IT departments and operate outside enterprise control to look for the next-generation services and infrastructure. To avoid this gap, IT should focus not on provisioning infrastructure. But provide infrastructure and application components as a service to empower developers.

    IT Service Catalog

    Service catalogs are the wave of the future for IT teams. It sets them up to serve as true internal service providers to their customers who are mainly developers, QA, and the like.

    A service catalog provides components to build your app. It is a collection of services that organize the available technology resources within an organization. Just as how you combine Legos to...

    Read on...

    3 Steps to Launch a RabbitMQ Docker Container

    January 12, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    RabbitMQ and Docker

    Do you want to deploy RabbitMQ as micro services in multiple virtual machines? Do you want the freedom to launch a RabbitMQ Docker container in any cloud, any infrastructure? Then my friend, you’re in the right place. Read on to find out how.

    In ElasticBox, you can deploy a RabbitMQ Docker container out of a box.

    RabbitMQ, as you may already know, is an open source message queuing system based on the AMQP standard. RabbitMQ allows application components and services to talk to each other over a variety of protocols. As we shared before, you can configure RabbitMQ as a cluster or as a federation to queue and route messages.

    In this post, I’m going to show you how I define and deploy a RabbitMQ Docker container using ElasticBox.

    Defining a RabbitMQ Docker Container

  • On the Boxes page in ElasticBox, I select a pre-defined Docker RabbitMQ box. To get this box, contact me.

    Select RabbitMQ Docker Box

  • In the Docker box, I edit the Dockerfile to customize it. To deploy the RabbitMQ container, in the Dockerfile, I configure the upstart command to not start RabbitMQ after installing. I add instructions to install RabbitMQ, and define an endpoint to start the RabbitMQ server. I expose some ports to access RabbitMQ components.

    Edit RabbitMQ Dockerfile

  • Since

  • ...

    Read on...

    Bird’s Eye View of IT as a Service

    January 7, 2015
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    ITaaS Diagram

    In working closely with large enterprises for several years, we consistently hear businesses talk of IT needs to achieve critical and strategic goals. Commonly these large enterprises span many verticals like technology, online media, finance, banking, and more.

    At the heart of their business goals, lie technology hurdles they need to overcome to scale as enterprises of the next decade.

    Visualizing IT as a Service

    So we captured in this mind map high-level business goals that require a broad set of IT services ranging from infrastructure, applications, management, integration, service provider, and architecture.

    ITaaS Thumb

    If you look to the left, you see needs centered around applications. These detail all the services required to provision, deploy, and manage applications including application architecture models to design automated deployments and serve all the right infrastructure resources.

    On the right, you see needs that revolve around compliance, reporting, and integrating with various service providers to supply virtual infrastructure and a slew of related services to keep the infrastructure running smoothly and reliably.

    We find that this visual captures the entire IT-as-a-service industry as a whole and this exercise helps to understand where the customers’ needs are and where in that spectrum we assist them.

    See if you can pinpoint the areas where...

    Read on...

    Create your ElasticSearch Cluster in Four Steps

    December 12, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    ElasticSearch

    In this blog post, we show how to install an ElasticSearch Cluster on any cloud in four easy steps. If you’re new to ElasticSearch, it is a powerful open source search and analytics engine that makes it easy to explore, query, and manipulate big data. It’s built on top of Apache Lucene, a Java search engine library. To process large amounts of data, it helps to configure ElasticSearch as a cluster on which different ElasticSearch nodes process data in parallel.

    To install an ElasticSearch cluster on a Linux distribution using ElasticBox, you just need our ElasticSearch box where you can adjust configuration parameters to suit your scenario.

    Get to Know Some ElasticSearch Cluster Concepts

    First, let’s go over some of the concepts in our cluster configuration:

    • Shard is the Lucene instance that stores each document (data) also known as primary shards.
    • Number of replicas are the number of shards with a copy of the primary shard.
    • Data nodes are those on which ElasticSearch distributes primary and replica shards.
    • Master node is the one in charge of managing cluster operations. Although not recommended, you can configure a master node to act as a data node.

    Deploy an ElasticSearch Cluster in ElasticBox

  • Click New Instance and select the ElasticSearch box. New Instance

  • In the

  • ...

    Read on...

    On Multi-Cloud Management: the Incremental and the Transformative

    December 9, 2014
    By Jared Ruckle, Senior Product Manager. Find Jared on Twitter

    Public cloud has so many enterprise IT execs excited.  The excitement stems from the right objectives (agility, OpEx, getting out of the infrastructure business), but is often associated with false expectations. 

    Namely, the idea of an expansive, highly-centralized multi-cloud strategy.  In this scenario, an IT pro manages multiple clouds with ease.  Key to this vision: a “single pane of glass” management and orchestration layer.

    The idea is solid – it hypothetically delivers interoperability, access to innovation across providers, and pricing arbitrage.  Who doesn’t want to seamlessly move workloads across clouds, without missing out on new features or price drops?

    But the reality doesn’t match up.  Here are the problems:

    • Cloud interoperability is very difficult to achieve.  From a slew of service provider APIs, and a few open source ones, to monitoring, metering and identity and access requirements – just to name a few – its clear that “lifting and shifting” workloads from one place to another is not as easy at it might seem at first glance.
    • New features from each cloud provider take time to integrate into each 3rd party management tool. These vendors need to keep pace with innovation as well.  By definition, they will always be a few steps behind the
    ...

    Read on...

    Control Resources and Costs with Instance Scheduler

    December 2, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Instance Scheduler

    In infrastructure-centric organizations, the IT operations team centrally manages infrastructure needs to efficiently utilize resources and streamline costs. To that end, IT defines policies and plans resources based on expected workload, budget, and general business requirements. Developers depend on IT for new machines to deploy applications and services, and again to dispose of or recycle them after use. From a developer’s point of view, this dependency slows down their development cycle.

    But what happens when IT is delivered and consumed as a service, and when developers can deploy their applications on the organization’s infrastructure at will, at the click of a button?

    IT as a Service with ElasticBox

    In application-centric organizations, IT operations remove as much friction as possible. Infrastructure is provisioned from the top down, based on the resources needed to serve the application.

    IT as a Service empowers both the IT and the development teams. Empowers IT because they no longer focus on low-level constraints around infrastructure, but on high-value activities around applications. Empowers developers because they can shape their ideas into reality in production faster, focus 100% on writing code rather than tinker with the underlying infrastructure.

    Developers now have access to infrastructure on demand and consume resources without process bottlenecks. At...

    Read on...

    Cloud Strategy Checkup

    November 26, 2014
    By Jared Ruckle, Senior Product Manager. Find Jared on Twitter

    Our usual posts here focus on practical, hands-on advice for getting the most out of CenturyLink Cloud and the new capabilities we continuously rollout.

    But sometimes, it’s helpful to step back and look at the big picture – particularly if your enterprise is managing scores of cloud apps from dozens of vendors.

    Many customers we speak with are feeling the pain of this situation.  It’s not quite “Shadow IT,” because IT knows what’s happening.  But it’s the pain that comes with a lack of focus or cohesion around a much smaller set of strategic vendors.

    Does this sound like your situation?  If so, have a look at our top six recommendations for advancing your Cloud strategy. The content is foundational, and may be messages you’ve heard before.  But it’s a great refresher as your business seeks to further the competitive advantage gained through cloud adoption.

    ...

    Read on...

    Five Features to Secure Your Cloud Future

    November 12, 2014
    By Ben Brauer and Steve White

    When enterprises make decisions on which cloud services to consider, security is the ultimate “table stakes” capability that any cloud provider must prove. There has been great innovation in the industry to assuage mainstream adopters, but not all cloud service providers are consistent in areas of identity management, network security, data security, threat prevention, and more.  Organizations and individuals still need to pay close attention to whether cloud service providers are delivering these five main security features:

  • Standards-based integration with identity management providers: Integrated identity has become a key enabler to quickly provision and (more importantly), de-provision access to company resources and data. To facilitate this, the service should have an identity solution for their management tools that quickly and easily integrates with existing processes used by the customer through a standards-based mechanism such as Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) 2.0, OAuth 2.0 with OpenID Connect, etc. This type of integration also provides complete control over password complexity rules, expiration, and the ability to require various forms of multi-factor authentication. In addition to standards-based integration, the service should also provide an easy-to-use, stand-alone multi-factor authentication (MFA) mechanism for those customers who don’t already have an existing identity management solution. This encourages
  • ...

    Read on...

    Announcing Cloud Reports – A Simple and Easy Way to Track and Optimize Your Cloud Spend

    November 11, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Today, ElasticBox announces the launch of Cloud Reports to help companies manage and control their cloud footprint and resulting costs across cloud service providers. This new offering provides IT managers with comprehensive tools they need to understand, track and optimize spend and usage across all their cloud resources on AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.

    We’ve found that more than 50 percent of our customers companies today use more than one cloud provider. As more companies disperse their resources across multiple cloud services, it’s increasingly difficult for them to fully understand the return on those investments.

    Enter ElasticBox Cloud Reports, a new product that aims to help companies manage their spend and monitor usage across multiple cloud platforms all in one place. Beyond spend-tracking or reporting, it provides insights into how teams or applications are using resources so companies can optimize costs for each provider and deploy resources where they make the most sense.

    With ElasticBox Cloud Reports companies can:

    Track spending on cloud providers such as AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure

    In addition to tracking overall spend on each cloud provider, customers can also track spend for different provider accounts, services, instance sizes, and datacenter locations.

    Spending Tracker

    Compare usage and money spent on one...

    Read on...

    Connect Your Private Network to Google Cloud

    October 29, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Google Cloud

    Google is a relatively new player in cloud computing. They were one of the first clouds to provide a PaaS solution with Google App Engine, but one of the last to provide IaaS options.

    One of the biggest differentiators and a draw for Google Cloud is their Google Compute Engine global software defined networking (SDN) capability. Unlike other providers, every network in Google Compute Engine (GCE) is a global network, that is, a network that spans every region and availability zone. Further, latency and throughput between regions almost defies the laws of physics. These network capabilities dramatically simplify deploying applications that run on a global scale.

    If you want to take advantage of one of the fastest growing IaaS technologies in the market, how do you go about moving all your data and infrastructure to GCE? In this post, we’ll show you how to connect your private network with GCE using ElasticBox.

    For this purpose, we created an IPSEC box that creates a tunnel between the 2 networks using Linux and Openswan.

    IPSEC Tunnel

    The first instance of this box is deployed in the GCE network. It is assigned an ephemeral IP and supports IP Forwarding:

    New Instance

    The box is deployed without bindings, which sets it to automatically...

    Read on...

    Surprised by Your Cloud Bill Every Month? Try Cross-Cloud Tagging

    October 23, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Cloud Services

    If you have recently received the bill from your cloud provider, you may be still wondering how you spent all this significant amount of money in cloud resources. And if you’re using multiple cloud providers (like we do at ElasticBox), this problem is even more complicated. Evidently, you need to have much better insight into where your expenses are going. Resource tagging is a crucial technique to improve the cost efficiency and reduce your infrastructure bill.

    Without tags, you won’t be able to confidently know what each of your instances is doing, which instances have been provisioned and which you can power off. This technique is even more important when using autoscaling systems that automatically add and release resources based on the workload of your application.

    Tagging your cloud resources allows you to add metadata to your resources in the form of key-value pairs. Hence your tag-key must be a meaningful value that represents how you want to report this resource, while the tag-value should give you an insight of what you want to report on. These tag-keys will appear as columns in the reports of your cloud providers. Therefore they may be descriptive enough to help you to break down your...

    Read on...

    Surprised by Your Cloud Bill Every Month? Try Cross-Cloud Tagging

    October 23, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Couchbase Logo

    A bit of awesome sauce for today — we are thrilled to announce our partnership with Couchbase, the only enterprise grade NoSQL database in the market.

    Together with Couchbase, we have created Couchbase Server and Couchbase Sync Gateway Boxes for ElasticBox, allowing our users to quickly deploy and run web and mobile applications powered by Couchbase technology in the cloud.

    The new Couchbase Boxes are bringing unprecedented opportunities for developers to build complex NoSQL applications in-house. The Boxes make it easy to build and deploy complex multi-tiered applications powered by Couchbase Server and Couchbase Mobile.

    The best part? Those boxes are already right there for you on ElasticBox. You just need to log on to ElasticBox or sign up, if you don’t have an account already.

    Benefits of Couchbase Boxes on Elasticbox:

    • Stick to best practices: Have you tried deploying Couchbase Server of Couchbase Sync Gatewaydatabase yourself? By using the Couchbase boxes, you can be sure that they are using the best practices when deploying Couchbase technology.
    • Scale with ease: You and your IT teams can now quickly launch new Couchbase Server and Couchbase Sync Gateway instances and respond to rapidly changing business requirements or increasing demand. Use Couchbase Boxes to automate scaling.
    • Multiply productivity: ElasticBox speeds
    ...

    Read on...

    Three Reasons Why You Should Use ElasticBox in Your CloudStack Environment

    October 16, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    CloudStack

    ElasticBox can help you manage application delivery on a number of different clouds. Today, let’s focus on CloudStack, the stack with the $$ behind it.

    CloudStack vs. OpenStack

    OpenStack gets a lot of air cover compared to CloudStack. The main reason is the strategy behind CloudStack. CloudStack’s parent company, Citrix, has executed a clear roadmap under the umbrella of the Apache Foundation. As a result, in comparison to OpenStack, its community is much smaller and the vision more targeted.

    The results are more focused and, to some extent, more practical to implement. We have seen many successful implementations of CloudStack that leverage ElasticBox to fully cover all aspects of a modern IT Organization.

    Why Use ElasticBox to Manage a CloudStack Deployment

  • Avail your developers of a ready-to-use and fully-configured application service catalog.

  • Streamline the application delivery process by bringing real-time DevOps collaboration to your organization

  • Pave the way for a future where your applications not only work with CloudStack, but with any cloud provider you choose.

  • To get started, register your CloudStack in ElasticBox. You can do this with either the SaaS version or by installing the ElasticBox Virtual Appliance in your own environment.

    Once registered, CloudStack will show up as an option in the deployment profile for your...

    Read on...

    Calling All AWS CloudFormation Power Users

    October 13, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    AWS CloudFormation is a very useful deployment mechanism provided by AWS and fully supported by ElasticBox. We’ve recently made some changes to our product and one of the results is a very interesting AWS CloudFormation use case – splitting up gigantic and monolithic AWS CloudFormation templates into smaller, more manageable templates.

    First, A Little Background

    AWS CloudFormation is essentially a way to programmatically define and provision cloud infrastructure, via a JSON template. CloudFormation templates can be used for tasks such as setting up VPCs, creating autoscaling groups and launching EC2 instances into different network configurations.

    Several enterprises are using CloudFormation templates to deploy increasingly complex infrastructure configurations. As a result, power users are rapidly discovering that their templates have become large, monolithic and extremely difficult to maintain.

    Why Not Just Split Them Up?

    In theory, splitting up a monolithic CloudFormation template into a set of smaller, manageable modules seems straightforward, but there are a few challenges.

    • Since these modules contribute to a larger, overarching infrastructure deployment, users need a way to specify dependencies and ensure that the modules are deployed in the right order.
    • These modules need a way to communicate with each other and share information such that one can take over where the other one
    ...

    Read on...

    Can’t Survive Without AWS S3, DynamoDB, and RDS? See How You Can Use Them in ElasticBox

    September 25, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Configuration

    In my last blog post, I talked about how we support AWS EC2, EBS, Elastic IP Address, and ELB. In this post, I’ll cover S3, DynamoDB, and RDS.

    S3

    S3 or Simple Storage Service is Amazon Web Services’ highly durable data store that can be used as your primary data store and can be accessed from anywhere. In ElasticBox, you can gain access to S3 using the S3 Box that allows users to select a region to deploy and access ports. The S3 Box enables you to provision and return end-points. Endpoints, in conjunction with the port, can be used by other applications to read/write data into S3.

    S3 is one of Amazon’s most popular services. ElasticBox’s own appliance OVF is stored in an S3 bucket.

    DynamoDB

    DynamoDB is a NoSQL Database that is deployed automatically in AWS. It is cost effective and reliable with single-digit millisecond latency making it a great fit for gaming, ad tech, mobile and many other applications.

    Like S3, ElasticBox supports a DynamoDB Box that you can add to your application stack. When ready to deploy, you can select parameters such as the region, port, and read/write capacity in the Deployment Profile.

    New Instance

    ElasticBox also enables users to scale their DynamoDB instances as needed...

    Read on...

    CenturyLink Expanding our Cloud Managed Services to the UK

    September 21, 2014
    By Jim.Battenberg@centurylink.com, or follow me: @jimbattenberg

    Today we are pleased to announce one-click access to cloud-based managed services on the CenturyLink Cloud in the UK.

    CenturyLink Cloud managed services provide automated provisioning of operating systems and applications – check the box when you need them, uncheck when you don’t – all billed hourly.  When paired with our easy-to-use cloud infrastructure, you get up and running quickly with the peace of mind you need from managed apps and operating systems.

    Now customers in the UK or global customers using UK nodes can mix and match cloud-based managed services, public and private cloud, and even colocation – all under one roof. This suits enterprises who want to embrace hybrid IT as part of their cloud journey, as well as those who just want to leave legacy applications where they are for the time being, but have access to the flexibility of cloud infrastructure when they need it.

    With this launch, customers can take advantage of the following services from our Slough data center: Windows and Red Hat Enterprise Linux managed operating systems, as well as managed applications Active Directory, Apache HTTP Server, Apache Tomcat, Microsoft Internet Information Services, Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL.

    And, if you want even more assistance, our cloud...

    Read on...

    ElasticBox Support for AWS EC2, EBS, ELB, and IP Addresses

    September 17, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    ElasticBox supports delivery of applications on a number of private and public clouds including AWS, GCE, Azure, VMware, CloudStack, OpenStack, and HP Cloud. Just supporting compute, however, is not unique. Several players in the market support compute. What’s great about ElasticBox is that it also gives you access to a large number of cloud provider-specific services such EBS, Route 53, SQL Services, App Engine, etc.

    Why Cloud Provider-Specific Services?

    Every cloud offers a unique set of services that are targeted to certain use cases and integrate really well with other services provided by that particular cloud provider. It would be a shame if you couldn’t access these innovative services in combination with cloud and application management platforms.

    Some great examples and use cases of these integrations include:

  • AWS EC2 integration with EBS, Elastic IP Address, and ELB

  • AWS Route 53 support for adding new domains that can be bought on AWS

  • Azure integration of Visual Studio, Cloud Services, Websites, and SQL Services

  • GCE integration of Compute Engine, App Engine, and Big Query for Google Projects

  • Support for cloud provider specific services poses a risk as well. Cloud providers (read, AWS) are constantly adding new services. How do we support them while still focusing on our own roadmap for...

    Read on...

    Introducing the Next Version of the Admin Console

    September 11, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Over the past few months, we have added great features such as Expanded Collaboration and Lifecycle Editor to make it easier than ever for Developers and Operations to work together in small teams, on large projects, and across large organizations. As ElasticBox is empowering bigger and bigger teams at larger and larger companies to freely deploy their business critical applications and consume infrastructure, IT teams increasingly want to gain visibility, control, and insights on how ElasticBox is being used within their organization.

    That is why, today, we are launching a brand new version of the ElasticBox Administration Console. It comes loaded with improvements and new features that enable IT to set up, manage, and support their users and organization on ElasticBox.

    Customize and Integrate

    We know it’s important for our enterprise users to reinforce their brand with their employees and to integrate with their existing tools. With the ElasticBox admin console, you will be able to set up your organization in a way that makes sense for your company. You can pick a logo and custom domain, enable signup and login options via email, Google/GitHub authentication, or integrate with your LDAP.

    You can also set up which cloud providers your users have access...

    Read on...

    Announcing the ElasticBox Virtual Appliance

    September 2, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Exciting news! We announced the release of our Virtual Appliance free trial at VMworld San Francisco this past week and are kicking things off with an awesome giveaway.

    Download our free Virtual Appliance trial (10 min setup) and you’ll be entered to win one of the new Apple product being released next week (hint: our money is on an iPhone 6).

    To enter, please complete the following steps by Friday, September 12th:

    • Follow the steps to download the appliance.
    • Deploy the Virtual Appliance in your vSphere environment.
    • Setup the Virtual Appliance and create an account!

    Free Trial

    Today, I am extremely excited to announce the general availability of the ElasticBox Virtual Appliance. ElasticBox built a Virtual Appliance to make it easier for you to rapidly deploy applications and provision your private cloud resources without risking security.

    Our engineering team has been working really hard during the weeks leading up to VMworld to create a virtual appliance that is easy to install, easy to upgrade, and gives you access to the full ElasticBox feature set.

    Why the Appliance?

    In short, it’s about giving our customers as much control as they want.

    • You have full control over your data with everything hosted in your private datacenter
    • You control the upgrade cycle
    • You control which clouds
    ...

    Read on...

    Using AWS CloudFormation in ElasticBox

    August 28, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    CloudFormation

    Recently, we have been experimenting with ways to support all the APIs and services that cloud providers like Amazon offer, such as CloudFormation. As I mentioned before in a blog post, cloud providers bring innovation to market in the form of infrastructure APIs

    CloudFormation Service Box

    Today, ElasticBox announces support for Amazon CloudFormation with the CloudFormation service box, which lets you use a template to quickly launch any Amazon service as a single stack or unit. With this new box service that has API support, you can consume all of Amazon’s services and capabilities. As IT operations, you can configure infrastructure that developers can directly consume.

    ElasticBox provides tools that enable your organization to exploit the full potential of Cloud computing. With CloudFormation support, IT operations can collaborate with developers at an unprecedented level of flexibility within the same product.

    At ElasticBox, we believe that being agile–being able to adapt to changes and adopt innovation is the new tenet of IT operations stability. We are committed to build the tools to resolve the complexities of software and cloud operations, be they straight or curved.

    Features

    Integrated CloudFormation Application Deployment

    With ElasticBox, the instantiation of Cloud Formation and the deployment of the application are all part of a...

    Read on...

    Private Cloud: Tradeoffs and Transformation

    August 15, 2014
    By Jared Ruckle, Senior Product Manager. Find Jared on Twitter

    A few weeks ago, we announced CenturyLink Private Cloud – a new approach to the private cloud segment that offers breakthrough simplicity for large enterprises.  CenturyLink Private Cloud is designed for those looking to deploy a transformational private cloud, instead of eking out incremental gains.

    Entering a new market segment is a significant undertaking for any product organization.  Every solution requires a series of trade-offs —just ask any product manager - and development of the CenturyLink Private Cloud is no exception.  So what were the trade-offs that we made, and how do they compare to other private cloud alternatives?  For a little insight into how we evaluated the private cloud market landscape and our decision making process, read on.

    Homegrown solutions

    Successful private cloud deployments – though more common these days – remain elusive. The brave souls that pursue a “do-it-yourself” approach often discover that:

    • Building a cloud is hard (especially the self-service and automation)
    • Running a cloud to 99.99% SLAs is hard
    • Just because you call it cloud doesn’t mean it is one
    • Users do not automatically gravitate to what you build
    • Lots of time and money are wasted when these lessons are learned the hard way. Forrester Research posted this great analysis of DIY private clouds:
    ...

    Read on...

    Recognizing the Challenges of Hybrid Cloud – Part IV

    August 9, 2014
    By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

    Hybrid cloud is becoming a standard operating model for many organizations. But how can you realize the expected agility when there are so many challenges ahead of you? In this series of articles, we’ve dissected each challenge and proposed some corresponding solutions. Whether you’re facing security and network concerns, or integration and system management issues, it’s critical to have a proactive plan in place. This final article rounds out the discussion by looking at ways to address the issues around portability, compatibility, and your existing toolset.

    Solutions to Hybrid Cloud Challenges

    In many cases, a hybrid cloud is the combination of complimentary – but not identical – computing environments. This means that processes, techniques, and tools that work in one place may not work in another.

    Compatibility. Gluing together two distinct environments does not come without challenges. Now, it’s possible that you have the same technology stack in both the public and private cloud environment, but the users, technology, and processes may be dissimilar!

      *Move above the hypervisor. Even if your public cloud provider supports the import and export of virtual machines in a standard format, no legitimate public cloud exposes hypervisor configurations to the user. If you want...

    Read on...

    Recognizing the Challenges of Hybrid Cloud – Part III

    August 8, 2014
    By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

    As hybrid cloud adoption grows, proper architecture and design of these solutions becomes critical. In the first part of this article series, we discussed the challenges any organization faces when linking public and private cloud environments. The second article outlined strategies for mitigating the network and security challenges of hybrid cloud. In this third of four articles, we will assess success strategies for application integration and system management in hybrid clouds.

    Solutions to Hybrid Cloud Challenges

    Data and Application Integration. Nearly every useful system is made up of data and business logic from multiple applications. Siloed, monolithic systems are fading in popularity as more dynamic systems take their place. But as you look to work with data and applications in a hybrid cloud, you need to keep a few things in mind.

      *Recognize the presence of data gravity. The concept of data gravity—a principle identified by Dave McCrory that claims that applications and services are drawn closer to large collections of data—comes to play in a hybrid cloud. Do you find yourself shuttling data back and forth over long distances? Would it make sense to move some of your large data repositories to whichever cloud most of the consuming applications...

    Read on...

    Recognizing the Challenges of Hybrid Cloud – Part II

    August 4, 2014
    By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management. Find Richard on Twitter

    Many organizations are adopting hybrid clouds – a bridge of public and private cloud environments – but there are many pitfalls along the way. In the first part of this article series, we looked at the challenges that any organization faces in their hybrid cloud journey. Now it’s time to see how to overcome these challenges. In this second of four articles, we will revisit the first set of hybrid cloud challenges and discuss strategies for success.

    Solutions to Hybrid Cloud Challenges

    Lasting success with a hybrid cloud requires strategic planning, investment, and yes, some compromise. By definition, you are using services that are outside of your control. Hence, existing processes and technologies may need to be revisited if you want meaningful integration and the flood of efficiencies that follow.

    Keep in mind that every part of your organization cannot accommodate the same level of change associated with a hyper-efficient hybrid cloud. Lydia Leong of Gartner points out that organizations with “bimodal IT” – where pockets of traditional IT and agile IT co-exist – are most successful when they do NOT have a universal set of processes, tools, and skills. If your IT organization is bimodal, consider which parts of the organization...

    Read on...

    Configure Virtual Machines Faster with ElasticBox Admin Boxes

    July 30, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Have you ever asked a colleague for a favor, like provisioning or configuring a virtual machine, only to get the response: “Have you submitted a ticket for that?” It is no secret that in the world of development and IT operations, the traditional protocol for getting things done is through submitting tickets.

    In many cases, especially at large enterprises, developers often wait weeks or months even, for the IT department to provision and configure virtual machines or instances. ElasticBox has a goal of making that experience disappear forever! ElasticBox has developed a solution that can help enterprises reduce the amount of repetitive and manual processes involved in provisioning a virtual machine.

    It is easy to blame the IT department for the lag, but the truth is, they have the very serious responsibility of allocating resources and then properly configuring, hundreds or even thousands of virtual machines. What causes a delay in provisioning and configuring a virtual machine that developers can use?

    One is configuring the machine to comply with the company’s standards and policies. Another is the manual steps that have to be executed on that machine for it to be prepared for use. For instance, IT admins will commonly install monitoring agents...

    Read on...

    AWS Auto Scaling and Load Balancing Made Easy

    July 28, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    AWS Load Balancing

    Take advantage of automatically scaling and load balancing instances when you deploy applications using ElasticBox in AWS EC2 or VPCs. Load balancing evenly distributes load to application instances in all availability zones in a region while auto scaling makes sure instances scale up or down depending on the load.

    Why Load Balance and Auto Scale at the Same Time?

    Paired together, auto scaling and load balancing provide useful benefits. Say you want to smoothly handle traffic surges to your website. When load increases, you want the website infrastructure to have enough capacity to serve the traffic. During bouts of low activity, naturally you want to reduce capacity.

    With load balancing alone, you’ll have to know ahead of time how much capacity you need so you can keep additional instances running and registered with the load balancer to serve higher loads. Or you could manually stop worrying about it and auto scale based on say CPU usage so that instances increase or decrease dynamically based on the load. Now this should give you a good idea of why it makes sense to have both.

    AWS Auto Scaling

    How to Easily Set Them Up in ElasticBox?

    If you were to set this up directly in AWS, you’d have to set...

    Read on...

    Explaining the Managed Cloud with Three Key Equations

    July 26, 2014
    By David Shacochis, VP Cloud Platform. Find David On Twitter

    Having been in the cloud infrastructure business since it came into existence, I’ve seen a number of different market forces shape and disrupt the industry.  The business side of my brain tends to focus on everything that’s changing.  But the engineering side of my brain tends to look for sustained constants in all the volatility. Sounds like a big data problem! Our data science team has crunched the numbers, and here are the key equations that help shape the managed cloud.

    Ownership != Control

    IT leaders often mistake having a tight grip on asset ownership with a tight grip on the steering wheel. With good but slightly misguided intentions, they want to own everything they use. This can lead to over-expenditure on common, undifferentiated hardware as well as under-utilized, over-engineered software products.  The own-it-all approach also builds a strong correlation between new IT projects and business growth initiatives, a situation that leaves IT permanently behind in delivering value to the business.

    The critical challenge for any IT department is to provide an agility platform that addresses the digital needs of the business under competitive pressure.  The goal is to have true command and control over all IT resources, even if you don’t actually...

    Read on...

    CenturyLink Makes Massive Private Cloud Massively Easy - Deploy in Over 55 Locations in 7 Countries

    July 20, 2014
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Management

    Public cloud is an important part of enterprise IT.  Why?  Self-service.  APIs.  Automation.  Access to new features regularly.  Global reach. Outsourcing of infrastructure management.  OpEx consumption.

    But it’s not the be-all, end-all.

    Enterprise apps will always require a range of infrastructure options – Hybrid IT – including bare metal, traditional hosting…and private cloud.

    The private cloud market is relatively immature (more on this in a forthcoming blog post).  The more we looked at this segment, the more we saw an opportunity to offer customers a unique value proposition.

    “You got chocolate in my peanut butter…”

    With CenturyLink Private Cloud, we’ve combined our approach to public cloud with the most important elements of a private cloud.

    Public cloud-style agility, scale, and automation – running on dedicated hardware with physical isolation.  Available in over 55 data centers worldwide.  That’s CenturyLink Private Cloud.

    We spare customers from the drudgery of infrastructure management, while offering more control over what truly matters: everything that happens from the platform up.

    For example, administrators dictate who has access to the pod and what they can do on it – while wielding complete authority to govern how the node is used day-to-day.  If an instance in the public cloud is an apartment in a large building,...

    Read on...

    Recognizing the Challenges of Hybrid Cloud – Part I

    July 18, 2014
    By Richard Seroter, Director of Product at CenturyLink Cloud

    CIOs are adopting the hybrid cloud paradigm in droves, as we recently pointed out in a Forbes.com contributing article. As public cloud adoption continues to surge, organizations are turning their attention to connecting public compute resources to infrastructure residing in on-premises data centers. Can you just set up a VPN between the sites and call it a day? Hardly. Establishing a meaningful hybrid cloud requires considerate planning across many dimensions. How will you secure it? What does it mean to maintain services across organizational boundaries? Are workloads portable between environments? In this first of four blog articles, we’ll look at some of the biggest challenges that you’ll face as you set up a hybrid cloud environment.

    What Challenges Will You Face?

    Any vendor or consultant who promises a “seamless and straightforward” hybrid cloud is not being realistic. There are technical, cultural, and logistical challenges that await you. Let’s discuss a few that you should prepare for.

    Security. This is usually the first item in any list regarding cloud computing, so why not this one too? As you plan out or mature your hybrid cloud, issues like compliance, identity management, and data protection will be front and center. Can you ensure data sovereignty...

    Read on...

    Adding Google Compute Engine Provider In ElasticBox

    July 18, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Nowadays, a majority of cloud service providers offer an API that allows users to interact with their infrastructure for the creation or deletion of resources, volumes, and images, to name a few. To use these APIs, users have to first authenticate using mechanisms based on key-password pairs.

    However these mechanisms are quite cumbersome as users often have to search for their credentials on cloud provider websites or in their file systems. Besides, these key-password pairs are in the format of long and difficult chains of alphanumeric characters, which make them impossible or pretty difficult to remember. Even though the use of these key pairs is justified by security reasons, it clearly affects a user’s experience when having to access these APIs. In ElasticBox, as well as in many other cloud platforms, users have to specify their credentials, in order to interact with cloud vendors such as AWS, Google Compute Engine (GCE), Microsoft Azure, VMware, Openstack or Cloudstack among others.

    Our philosophy at ElasticBox is to alleviate and minimize all tedious management operations which affect a user’s experience, as long as they don’t present security issues. In the following, we will focus on Google Compute Engine’s API which supports two authentication mechanisms to...

    Read on...

    Securely Connect to Your AWS Cloud Resources

    July 10, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    When using ElasticBox, you bring your own cloud. To deliver the absolute best experience of deploying applications on any cloud, we are working very closely with all the cloud providers that we support – Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, OpenStack, CloudStack, and VMware. One of the topics that often comes up is security. Today, we’re adding enhanced security for our AWS support.

    Our friends at Amazon have built comprehensive Identity and Access Management (AWS IAM) features, which enable enterprises to grant and control secure access to specific AWS resources. For instance, with AWS IAM, cloud administrators can set up password policies for the user groups, delegate user and application rights with roles instead of sharing credentials and even enable multi-factor authentication for more privileged users. AWS IAM helps cloud administrators to narrow down the user rights and grant the least needed privileges for the users and applications.

    At ElasticBox we are putting a lot of emphasis on security and hence we are proud to take advantage of the AWS IAM features. It is essential for us that we always comply with the industry standards and best practices of security and risk management. Starting July 11th, when adding a new...

    Read on...

    Deploying a MongoDB Cluster with ElasticBox

    June 20, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    With ElasticBox, you can easily deploy a self replicating MongoDB cluster in just a few minutes. In order to accommodate ElasticBox’s data needs, we rely on MongoDB clusters that run on two public clouds and one private data center.

    This way we can provide redundancy, high availability and excellent read and write performance around the world. Using ElasticBox, and our concept of Boxes, which are application or infrastructure components made available as a service, we can consistently deploy a MongoDB cluster in just a matter of minutes on any of our Cloud Providers.

    To get started deploying MongoDB clusters on ElasticBox, sign up today for our free account! If you’re interested in other resources on MongoDB, check out how you can easily use Splunk to monitor MongoDB using ElasticBox.

    The Basics

    What is MongoDB? MongoDB is an open-source document store database.

    Why would you want to cluster MongoDB? To provide redundancy and high-availability for production deployments.

    How We Use MongoDB

    In our case, MongoDB is using a replica set model. A replica set is a group of MongoDB instances that host the same data set. One MongoDB, the primary, receives all write operations. All other instances, secondaries, apply operations from the primary so that they have the...

    Read on...

    Mind the Gap: Innovating in the Cloud with APIs

    June 16, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    If you’ve ever traveled London by the underground tube, you’ve likely heard the station speakers announce “mind the gap.” They’re warning you of a gap between the train and the platform. But why build a curved train platform in the first place? Were the engineers not aware of its dangers?

    Mind the Gap

    Bridging Decades of Software Gap

    Now, London is an old city. Generations of engineers and architects have added their vision to the city’s foundation. Our software industry is not as old, but in comparison has seen such fast paced innovation and reinvention that it has generated decades of software on which our modern civilization is built. As a result, the only way to bridge the gap between decades of generated software is to build the equivalent of a curved station.

    It’s hard to look both forward and back at the same time. For years as they combined old with new technology–ranging from hardware to application runtimes–IT tried to stabilize operations with very little room for error. That stabilizing process has been arduous and expensive.

    On the other hand, the software development process is marked by continual change. Most organizations reconciled the operations and development worlds by introducing release cycles measured in years, even naming...

    Read on...

    Multi-Tier Applications Done Right

    June 11, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    One of the biggest problems facing software engineers since the dawn of the multi-tier application is, well, how to make it multi-tier.

    It’s more than just having several supporting applications – it is about connecting the layers correctly and allowing them to communicate with each other. All this is to create a scalable and responsive deployment that can be easily updated and adapted to changing business needs.

    It is about ensuring that your infrastructure can co-ordinate the order in which your application tiers are spun up, even when the apps themselves have not been designed to perform these critical dependency checks.

    What Are You Looking For?

    Intelligently handling your solution’s dependencies is an inherent problem in multi-tier deployments – at whatever scale you are operating. For instance,

    As a developer working on a project:

    “I want to ensure that my database is up and running before my web-server is deployed.”

    As the CTO of a rapidly growing startup:

    “I want to bootstrap on basic AWS services (such as managed cache, load balancing, and managed databases), but as the product evolves, I want to give myself the freedom to evolve the services I connect to and consume – experiencing as little downtime as...

    Read on...

    ElasticBox and Infoblox – Say that Five Times Fast!

    May 12, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    We at ElasticBox are really excited about our partnership with Infoblox to integrate “Network Control” into your process for developing and deploying applications in a cloud environment. To align with the Infoblox press release today, I wanted to provide a little more detail on how Infoblox and ElasticBox work together.

    First let’s define the partnership at a high level, and from a conceptual point of view. ElasticBox is a DevOps Platform that enables IT operations to deliver IT as a Service and also provides a collaboration mechanism for operations and developers to define and deploy applications in a modular process across any cloud environment – private, public, and hybrid. Infoblox, on the other hand, provides a powerful solution to centralize and automate network provisioning and control. So together, ElasticBox and Infoblox ensure that when you are developing, orchestrating, and deploying your applications in the cloud, everything – including the network – will work, automatically.

    OK, I am being told that I should probably provide some more detail…

    ElasticBox uses webhooks to provide a high level of integration to Infoblox. A quick example of how ElasticBox uses webhooks to integrate with Infoblox follows – you’ll see in the diagram below that Infoblox can discover...

    Read on...

    Let’s Start with Boxes

    April 30, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    What’s a Box? Is it Like a Container?

    I joined ElasticBox in March and this was one of my biggest questions. So what better topic to kick off my blogging career than what a Box is…

    Think of a Box as a set of instructions, a DNA, or a blueprint that tells your application components where to go and what to do.

    The formal definition: A Box is a reusable, shareable, and portable layer of an application architecture. To create a multi-tier application architecture, you simply stack these Boxes.

    Here’s some examples of Boxes and what they do:

    • A Java Box contains the necessary files/scripts to install java onto a generic linux image.
    • A MongoDB Box makes your database portable and modular. You can also add other variables like database permissions to the Box.
    • An NGINX Box allows you to encapsulate your HTTP web server configurations and settings making them reusable for more than one app.
    • A Chef Solo Box deploys Chef Solo on your instance and let you run a Chef cookbook.
    • A Git Box allows your instance to have an integration with your source code repository which can be used for continuous integration, for example.

    So really a Box can be an OS layer, an app server, a...

    Read on...

    ElasticBox Supports AWS Elastic Load Balancer

    April 23, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Today, we officially pushed to production our newest supported cloud service: AWS Elastic Load Balancer.

    The AWS Elastic Load Balancer, which automatically distributes incoming application traffic to the right set of EC2 instances, plays a vital role maintaining business continuity. Enterprises that often experience sudden surges in traffic, such as in media and marketing, rely on AWS Elastic Load Balancing to ensure greater levels of application fault tolerance.

    With ElasticBox, users compose their applications by stacking together Boxes. At the time of deploying to a cloud provider such as AWS, the user can select from a set of provider-specific services that enhance the deployment.

    Users now have the option to add AWS Elastic Load Balancer capabilities at the time of deploying their Box. We support the load balancing of applications using HTTP, HTTPS, TCP and SSL protocols and provide the ability to specify the certificates necessary for secure protocols. In addition to creating brand new load balancers at the time of deployment, we also support the reuse of existing load balancers that are associated with the user’s AWS account. This allows businesses to repurpose their existing infrastructure configurations.

    With the addition of Elastic Load Balancer, we have expanded our current list of supported AWS...

    Read on...

    5 Reasons You Will Love this CenturyLink Cloud News (Including a Price Update!)

    April 1, 2014
    By Jared Wray, CenturyLink Cloud CTO

    When CenturyLink acquired Tier 3 in November, our newly integrated cloud team promised customers big things – faster innovation and access to more capabilities, to name a few.  The team has delivered in the first 140 days: new services and an expanded footprint.  Our Cloud SVP Andrew Higginbotham shares the results here by the numbers.

    Another benefit?  Scale.  That leads to lower costs, which CenturyLink can pass along to customers.  Today, we’re pleased to announce a major price reduction for CenturyLink Cloud services. 

    For our clients, and businesses considering cloud, here’s what you need to know about these changes:

  • The new pricing changes are effective immediately for CenturyLink Cloud CPU, RAM, and block storage.  These drops are dramatic – a typical CenturyLink Cloud VM will cost at least 60% less with the new pricing.  Customers without contracts will see the new pricing effective immediately; customers with contracts will hear from their account team to adjust terms accordingly. 
  • New support bundles.  Until today we have bundled premium support as part of our price offering – a key benefit to organizations formulating their cloud strategy.  But the market has matured.  As such, we are evolving our singular support offering to a strong portfolio of
  • ...

    Read on...

    Someone’s Infrastructure is Someone Else’s Service

    January 10, 2014
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    These days where everything is offered up “as a service,” we run the risk of turning “as a service” into a meaningless marketing tag. Most everyday someone out there comes up with a new “as a service” offering forcing even the government to officiate guidelines for IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. In this blog, I’d like to explore the true meaning of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and see what it means for us as enterprises and developers.

    What Does IaaS Mean?

    As defined by the government, Infrastructure as a Service allows consumers to provision processing, storage, network, and other fundamental computing resources on demand. To these provisioned resources, consumers can deploy and run arbitrary software including operating systems and applications. Without having to manage or worry about the underlying cloud infrastructure, consumers can control operating systems, storage, their deployed applications, and even in some limited way control networking components like host firewalls.

    Before Amazon’s EC2 offering, many hosting companies like Rackspace had already offered compute resources on demand. But what’s so different about the AWS offering that triggered a whole IT revolution?

    Why’s Amazon IaaS Strategy Successful?

    I believe the difference is rooted in Amazon’s service centered culture as revealed in Steve Yegge’s post and...

    Read on...

    Cloud Services: Build, Buy, or Partner? Dell Chooses ‘Partner’ and So Should You

    November 12, 2013
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Marketing

    Today, Dell chose CenturyLink Cloud for their partner program due to our cloud’s extensive reseller capabilities.  These features, first launched as Tier 3’s Reseller Edition, include account management, APIs, SSO via SAML, extensive re-branding and more (details here and here). CenturyLink’s approach to reseller enablement gives Dell a completely rebranded public cloud offering overnight – no engineering required on their side.

    This is big news for us, and we’re excited to be working with Dell.

    Now, let’s explore this idea of partnerships for public cloud a little more.

    Developers and IT increasingly turn to new-school cloud vendors for their infrastructure.  Common sense on the eve of 2014.  But this shift was not anticipated by most SIs, MSPs, and hardware OEMs 5 years ago.

    How have these vendors responded?  The results are mixed.  Many are still refining their cloud strategy, and wrestling with the build, buy, partner calculus.

    The industry isn’t sitting still – far from it.  But there’s plenty of time for vendors who missed out on the first wave of cloud to capitalize on the second wave.  But as CenturyLink CTO Jared Wray recently wrote, building cloud is hard.  It takes a specific set of engineering skills that are in high demand.

    Consequently, we’re seeing...

    Read on...

    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.

    autoscale

    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
  • ...

    Read on...

    ITaaS: The Innovative CIO’s Recipe to Curb Shadow IT

    October 31, 2013
    By Originally appeared on ElasticBox blog

    Early this month I was at the CIO Executive Leadership Summit in San Diego, which attracted about 900 people; among them were CIOs from big enterprises, influencers from the press, and portfolio companies sponsored by Intel.

    At this popular networking event, I had a chance to meet several C-level executives from enterprises that turn over upwards of a billion dollars in annual revenue. It was great to connect with these folks because you get to hear of challenges from a whole organization’s perspective thanks to their bird’s eye view.

    Wary of the Shadow

    In our meetings, the CIOs talked about shadow IT problems that affect departments today. Shadow IT happens typically when groups inside your organization quickly start experimenting with or using SaaS and cloud services without waiting around for IT and organizational approval.

    Shadow IT problems spring up in large enterprises when IT departments are slow to respond to pressing business demands. IT is often too busy processing a flood of requests related to production, post production, dev, and test. They’re held back from delivering services fast because of workflow processes and the amount of manual setup involved.

    Let me give an example. Company A, a publicly traded fortune 500 company, has a policy...

    Read on...

    Cloud IaaS Price/Performance Benchmarking – Part 2

    October 18, 2013
    By Jared Ruckle, Product Marketing

    In part one, we highlighted Tier 3’s strong showing in a recent performance benchmarking survey.

    So what to make of reports like this?  Here are 6 observations that might help you, a buyer of cloud services, interpret findings like this.

    Two Things These Reports Can Tell You

    • Quantification of vendor claims & normalization. Vendors will describe their products as “high performance.”  Well, compared to what?  And given that each vendor has a different hypervisor and hardware in their data center – in addition to different instance sizes, or a build to custom specs capability (Tier 3’s approach) – it is hard to gauge clock speeds across providers.  This particular report cuts through that.
    • Each cloud on this list is likely better than another competitor – your internal data center. Every cloud provider on this list is operating at scale, releasing new features often, and supporting a multi-tenant service.  As a result, they are almost certainly delivering better performance than what you have on-premise today.  And due to the expansive self-service offerings some of these providers offer, superior agility relative to your internal data center is a given.  The really interesting – and possibly confusing - thing?  Some of the vendors on this list
    ...

    Read on...

    Cloud Billing That Doesn’t Suck: The 5 Principles to Help IT Understand Their Spend

    July 8, 2013
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    Can you understand what you just paid your cloud provider for? Did your accounting staff have to invest significant amounts of time deciphering the costs and figuring out how to bill each department for their usage?  There is often an unexpected human cost of cloud computing and billing is one area where you may end up frustrated if you don’t have a plan in place. At CenturyLink Cloud, we’re trying to ensure that our customers have an easy to understand bill that can be consumed in multiple ways.

    There are five focus areas of our billing approach, and we believe that you should look for these from ANY cloud provider you work with.

    1. Embrace the dynamic nature of the cloud

    Paying for resources in the cloud is unlike anything that enterprise IT has experienced before. CenturyLink Cloud Billing Widget Unlike traditional servers where you pay an upfront cost, cloud servers are pay-as-you go and resizable on the fly. Need to double the CPU on a database server during an intense processing period? It’s easy, but it alters the cost of the server as originally provisioned. Cloud servers are inherently easy to create, easy to delete, and easy to scale. This can wreak havoc on financial...

    Read on...

    Under the Covers with Shantu, Episode 1: Global Search

    June 23, 2013
    By Shantu Roy - Sr. Product Manager. Find me on twitter: @shanturoy

    We’re starting a new video blog series here– one focused on diving into some of the new features our engineers are building in our products.  Why now?

    • Building cloud services is hard and requires serious engineering. We’ve learned a lot over the past 7 years, and like sharing our experiences. We’re often early adopters of technology that make distributed systems more powerful and easier to administer.
    • We have a perspective the community may be interested in.  The cloud is maturing from basic dev/test scenarios towards true mission critical applications.  We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the enterprise, and it requires a different mindset in a number of ways.  That is a topic we’ll be re-visiting from time to time.
    • We have matured our development processes.  With the arrival of some very senior engineering leadership, we have been able to dramatically accelerate how quickly we deploy new features in our global footprint of data centers.  We also have a number of relevant “customer-driven innovation” practices that have informed our thinking and roadmap priorities.

    First up: I speak with Troy from our dev team on our new global search feature.  The more VMs you have, the harder it can be to find them.  Several...

    Read on...

    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...

    Read on...

    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...

    Read on...

    Enterprise Cloud Monitoring, Made Simple

    April 1, 2013
    By Shantu Roy, Senior Product Manager

    In the coming months, CenturyLink Cloud will launch new, enterprise monitoring capabilities, powered by ScienceLogic and New Relic.  We wrote a guest blog post for ScienceLogic, describing our approach to monitoring, check it out here.

    ...

    Read on...

    Performance in the Cloud: Upping the Ante

    January 22, 2013
    By Shantu Roy — Developer @shanturoy- twitter 

    IT managers know that speed is the number 1 usability factor for internal apps.  For customers, who use systems and sites run by IT, speed is crucial to maximizing online engagement, and ultimately, conversion and revenue.

    This situation is just another reason why the IT-as-a-Service movement is gaining steam.  IT is transitioning from a cost center to a business enabler.  And the two common scenarios mentioned above illustrate where IT and the business have a shared objective around performance.

    Many of the elements that have caused latency in the past are disappearing, thanks to cloud computing.  Bandwidth, security, and server performance are no longer the primary obstacles to delivering a snappy online experience.  Issues that arise today are usually the result of the application itself.  Properly diagnosing these root causes has given rise to a new class of products, Application Performance Management (APM).

    Join CenturyLink Cloud and New Relic for an online webinar on January 24 to hear us review the challenges that enterprises commonly face with application performance, and some common strategies you can investigate and put into place.

    ...

    Read on...

    Anatomy of a Website Redesign: An Interview with CenturyLink Cloud’s Creative Directo

    January 13, 2013
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    CenturyLink Cloud recently launched a new version of the CenturyLink Cloud website. This was a complete site redesign and an important step in explaining why CenturyLink Cloud is a premier choice for your cloud computing needs. This redesign was led by Nathan Young, CenturyLink Cloud’s talented Creative Director and UI Designer. I sat down with Nate and asked him a few questions about the goals and technology behind the new website.

    Richard: I suspect that when you planned the CenturyLink Cloud re-design, you also looked at what our peers in the industry have done with their own web presence.  Without naming names, what sort of things did you see that you liked, and disliked?

    Nate: One thing we noticed while doing a competitive audit was that many cloud company websites felt very “cards close to the vest.” Granted, there would be tons of information, but nothing that actually shows what the customer experience is like. It felt like as if there was a standard checklist of benefits and specs that had to be on the site, but nothing to supports those claims with product experience demonstrations.

    Part of my job as Creative Director for CenturyLink Cloud is being an experience designer, so I...

    Read on...

    Stop Wasting Money on Idle or Forgotten Cloud Servers

    January 9, 2013
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    Every infrastructure cloud provider makes it easy to create servers. However, one of the most important characteristics of cloud computing is that it’s easy to delete servers. Go ahead and use a server for as long as you need to and then get rid of it, along with all associated costs. However, cloud cleanup is typically the sole responsibility of the customer. Some smart folks have come up with their own solutions to this problem (see Netflix and their open-sourced Janitor Monkey for AWS), but we prefer to give our customers the automation capabilities they need to easily get rid of servers that aren’t needed anymore.

    Set a Server Time-to-Live

    When building temporary cloud environments, you often know exactly when you’ll be done using a server or set of servers. However, after the requisite days/weeks/months have passed, who remembers to shut off those machines? During the provisioning process of a CenturyLink Cloud server, users have the option to select a server lifespan and decide whether to archive or completely delete the server.

    serverdelete01

    Use Scheduled Tasks to Automatically Shut Down and Resume Environments

    Many servers will not be for temporary use, but they do have a defined windows of usefulness. For instance, consider a development...

    Read on...

    CenturyLink Cloud’s 2013 Cloud Predictions: 12 Days of Cloud

    November 21, 2012
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    2012 was a pivotal year for cloud computing as products matured and real customer success stories demonstrated the fundamental business value of the cloud.

    We expect that momentum to continue into 2013 and want to close this year with our “12 days of Cloud” predictions. Each day for the next 12 days, we’ll add a new, sometimes controversial, 2013 cloud prediction to this blog post.

    Agree with our predictions? Think we’re drinking too much eggnog? We want to hear where you think the cloud market is heading and what you’re looking for in the upcoming year. Write a blog post in response, enter our Cloud Prediction contest, send us a tweet, or leave a comment below!

    On with the predictions.

    Cloud Prediction #1:  2013 is the year of cloud management software. Cloud providers have matured to a point where cross-platform management layers will thrive and become mainstream. While widely-accepted IaaS standards are a ways off, organizations will look for solutions that let them manage their diverse cloud portfolio from a single interface.

    Cloud Prediction #2: **While the largest cloud providers duke it out on price and scale, smaller cloud providers see that enterprise adoption really depends on tight integration with existing tools and processes**. Rather...

    Read on...

    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...

    Read on...

    Your apps don’t have to be BUILT for the cloud to be IN the cloud

    October 1, 2012
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    We at CenturyLink Cloud never like to see fellow cloud providers experience downtime as it hurts the reputation of our industry. Following an outage by a couple major cloud providers last week, many pundits came out of the woodwork to scold the customers of these cloud services that experienced corresponding downtime. Why? It’s become “common knowledge” that if a user of cloud services experiences downtime, then they haven’t properly architected their apps for the cloud. I wonder why we assume that every business has the engineering prowess of cloud pioneers like Netflix. Cloud users are rightly encouraged to build and deploy distributed applications that can withstand the failure of any component(s), but the reality is that this doesn’t always happen because of one or more of these reasons:

    They Don't Know Any Better

    While many of us have spent years in the cloud, it’s easy to forget that this is an entirely new domain for the vast majority of enterprise customers. To be sure, principles of good architecture and highly available systems have been around for decades, but we recognize that cloud computing introduces its own wrinkles to those existing patterns. It’s up to all of those in the industry to help...

    Read on...

    Who Does What: A Look at Everyone’s Responsibilities in IaaS

    September 30, 2012
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    As organizations continue to get more comfortable with the idea of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), one area of confusion can still be “who does what?” While clouds, like the one offered by CenturyLink Cloud, deliver a wide variety of self-service capabilities and automated infrastructure management, not everything is simply “taken care of.” It’s dangerous to assume that something (e.g. high availability, data security) is handled by the software or the service provider when in fact it is not.  When plotting out usage of IaaS resources, it’s important for organizations to understand where they need their engineers, what the software will do for them, and what sorts of requests involve engineers from the CenturyLink Cloud Network Operations Center (NOC). In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the responsibilities of each actor.

    Customers

    Let’s start with the customer. There are a few things that a cloud customer does outside of any software provided by CenturyLink Cloud. For instance, it’s up to the customer to figure out who is going to be an administrator of the cloud and what the expected resource consumption is going to be. Our software is built to make it easy to actually define a cloud server configuration, but it’s...

    Read on...

    Small Feature, Big Impact: Executing Script Statements Against Groups of Cloud Servers

    September 24, 2012
    By Richard Seroter, Senior Product Manager. Find Richard on Twitter

    In last week’s cloud software release, we pushed out a subtle new capability that should pack a big punch for our customers. CenturyLink Cloud is constantly looking for ways to engineer a better server management experience for our IaaS customers, and we think that this a great example of that focus. In this blog post, I’ll describe this new feature, show you where to access it, and when you will want to use it.

    What is it?

    In a nutshell, users can now easily execute arbitrary script commands when creating or managing servers in our cloud. Windows users can choose between PowerShell and Windows Command scripts, while Linux users may use SSH scripts. Both the Command and SSH scripts execute directly on the target machine(s) whereas PowerShell scripts take advantage of the “remote PowerShell” capability.

    Where do I access it?

    We expose this capability in the two most relevant places. First, blueprint designers can include the Script activity when orchestrating new server environments

    When this Script task package is added to a blueprint, the blueprint designer is asked to choose both the target server and execution mode (PowerShell/Command/SSH), and then enter the actual script statement. In the “Script” textbox, the user inputs a single statement...

    Read on...

    CenturyLink Cloud Unveils New Cloud Server Group Management Features

    July 28, 2012
    By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

    Innovative Cloud-Based Group Management Features Mitigate Server Sprawl and Further Optimize Management, Monitoring and Reporting

    BELLEVUE, Wash. — August 28, 2012 ― CenturyLink Cloud, Inc., the enterprise cloud platform company, today introduced a new set of Server Group Management features that make it easier to maintain large server environments located in its Cloud. The newly unveiled capabilities provide users with a consistent and intuitive way to organize and manage virtual machines through group-based permissions, policies, bulk execution actions, and more.

    As organizations move more of their workloads to the Cloud, organizing and managing those server farms can become challenging, expensive and time-consuming. The CenturyLink Cloud Cloud Server Group Management capability gives system administrators the tools they need to navigate these challenges starting with the ability to logically group and manage their large-scale cloud deployments. Groups are intuitively integrated within both the CenturyLink Cloud Control Portal and programmatic API, allowing administrators to create collections of servers that have their own permissions, policies and default server configuration settings.  In addition, actions performed against the groups, such as rebooting or taking snapshots of a server, can be performed in bulk—allowing administrators to spend less time maintaining individual servers and more time optimizing their overall cloud...

    Read on...

    Continuous Integration and Delivery

    July 16, 2012
    By

    Why Continuous Integration and Delivery?

    Did you know that Amazon.com is updated every few seconds? Yeah, that’s right. While you were shopping, Amazon.com’s Dev Team probably pushed new software to take add features, capabilities, display products or analyze the activity on the site. Everyday Etsy also deploys multiple times with minor and even major fixes and changes. Both of these companies, along with a growing number, while doing high transaction e-commerce and other important business, follow a continuous delivery process.

    The most successful development teams use continuous integration and delivery. This has become a leading practice to build high quality, reliable and well respected software. Your team may not need to deploy everyday or you may not need to update a website every few seconds. But in the end, your team delivers a product or service of some type. Continuous Integration and Delivery is a key element of what makes high expectation software development possible.

    Where We’re Going…

    Over the next few weeks we’re going to take a look at building out a development environment in CenturyLink Cloud that follows the key principles behind continous integration and move eventually to continuous deployment. Before we start move into the deep technical topics, I’ll cover exactly what...

    Read on...

    A Look at Platform as a Service Application Monitoring

    July 16, 2012
    By

    New Relic has become a real leader in website performance analytics, and CenturyLink Cloud is thrilled to incorporate this service, for free, into our Platform as a Service service. For each application deployed to Platform as a Service, regardless of the language/framework that the application was written in, New Relic captures deep information about response time, throughput and more. While we’ve put some of the most interesting statistics directly in the CenturyLink Cloud Control Panel for at-a-glance viewing, we also enable you to drill right through to the New Relic site and discover even more valuable metrics. In this post, we’ll take a quick look at how we’ve incorporated New Relic’s monitoring data into the CenturyLink Cloud Control Portal.

    Previously, Platform as a Service users had a simple set of metrics about their running application(s) that included how much memory, CPU and storage was allocated for a given application. ![Platform as a Service Control Portal](/assets/images/blog/2012.06.NewRelicIntegration01.png) This resource allocation information is important, but application owners also REALLY want to know how well an application is performing for their users! The **brand new Control Panel dashboard** shows a subset of the New Relic metrics that begin to give you a picture of an application’s health. ![New...

    Read on...

    Making it Even Easier for Our Customers to Deploy Hybrid Cloud

    July 16, 2012
    By

    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;...

    Read on...

    Building Servers with the CenturyLink Cloud API

    July 6, 2012
    By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

    Any service provider worth its salt has to have an API. It’s one of the first questions we ask our providers and understandably one we get asked a lot as well. With our latest release we also updated our API, so I figured what better way to show off the API that with a sample of how easy it is to build a server.

    First using Visual Studio 2010 we’ll install RestSharp using NuGet (if you don’t have NuGet installed stop reading and do yourself a favor and install it).

    Install-Package RestSharp

    Then create a rest client pointing at the CenturyLink Cloud API.

    `private RestClient Client = new RestClient("https://api.ctl.io/rest");

    Now we are ready to call the API. Once you create an API user in your account you can use it to logon and store the authentication in the client cookies.

    `var request = new RestRequest("/auth/logon"); request.Method = Method.POST; request.RequestFormat = DataFormat.Json; request.AddBody(new { APIKey = "b3b41e0818ad4dfdb9d43c964f680de1", Password = "plAtform6{+*" }); ` `var response = Client.Execute(request); var content = DeserializeContent(response); if (content.StatusCode != 0) throw new ApplicationException(content.Message); ` `if (Client.CookieContainer == null) Client.CookieContainer = new System.Net.CookieContainer(); ` `response.Cookies .Select(c => new Cookie(c.Name, c.Value, c.Path, c.Domain)) .ToList() .ForEach(c => Client.CookieContainer.Add(c));`

    You’ll notice a few helpers methods I created to deal with deserializing the JSON response into a...

    Read on...

    Get Your vFabric On with Blueprints from CenturyLink Cloud

    July 6, 2012
    By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

    Today CenturyLink Cloud announced access to a Starter Kit Blueprint for VMware vFabric on the CenturyLink Cloud Public Cloud. We know that most of you are busy enough with your job, so setting aside time to try the latest technologies is often hard to juggle. To make it a bit easier, we created the starter kit blueprint!

    This blueprint enables you to quickly deploy a small vFabric environment and be up and running in no time—without the need to troubleshoot.

    What is in it?

    The Starter Kit Blueprint for VMware vFabric comes with four virtual machine instances and the advanced vFabric applications:

    • vFabric tc Server: vFabric tc Server, the best place to build and run Java Spring applications, provides enterprise users with the lightweight server they want paired with the operational management, advanced diagnostics, and mission-critical support capabilities businesses need.
    • vFabric GemFire® Server: GemFire is a distributed data management platform providing dynamic scalability, high performance, and database-like persistence. It blends advanced techniques like replication, partitioning, data-aware routing, and continuous querying to help you.
    • vFabric Web Server: Unlike Apache, vFabric Web Server is pre-compiled, pre-configured and pre-patched, which reduces deployment times from a typical 3 days to 30 minutes. It has a consistent installation process and structure
    ...

    Read on...

    The Cloud is #1 Priority for CIOs in 2011

    July 3, 2012
    By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

    It's Official

    Cloud computing is the #1 technology priority of 2011 for over 2,000 CIOs** surveyed by Gartner—with virtualization taking the number two spot. While 66% of the average IT department’s budget has traditionally been allocated to day-to-day operations, according to Gartner CIOs expect the cloud to free up 35-50% of current resources to be used towards “innovation and growth.” This is good news for CIOs, whose measure of success is increasingly dependent not only on ensuring IT is efficient and cost-effective, but on “creating and realizing new sources of [business] value.” The top 3 business objectives named by CIOs reflect these new success metrics, and mirror what we’re seeing here at CenturyLink Cloud:

    1. Developing or managing a flexible infrastructure

    Flexible infrastructure is one of the key differentiators of cloud computing as compared to on-site IT hardware. In the cloud, storage and performance scale—and with the right cloud provider, they scale predictively or based on business rules. Additionally new servers can be provisioned in minutes, instead of the days required by traditional IT processes.

    2. Delivering application and growth projects

    Many CenturyLink Cloud customers are taking advantage of new business models and reaching new customers by moving their apps into the cloud. Chad Collins,...

    Read on...

    Simplifying the Enterprise

    July 3, 2012
    By CenturyLink Cloud Product Management

    Make it simple. It sounds easy, but it’s surprisingly challenging. As Creative Director and UI Designer for CenturyLink Cloud, I’m charged with taking the complex tasks and concepts of managing a business’ IT infrastructure, and defining the interface that allows our customers to control it. Over the past year or so, you’ve probably noticed the CenturyLink Cloud Control Portal interface has evolved as new features have rolled out, or improvements to existing functionality have been implemented.

    Typically, managing an infrastructure requires interacting with a lot of different tools, from load balancers and hypervisors, to firewall systems and monitoring software, not to mention the developer environment for your app. These systems allow you to control your infrastructure down to the last detail. However, with that control comes great complexity, and the interfaces of some these products can be quite challenging to use to say the least. Just because a product is designed for the enterprise, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have a consumer level of simplicity to use it.

    Many times, it feels as if the interface for enterprise-level products is an afterthought, when in fact it should be one of the first areas of focus. It is after all, a key touchpoint to...

    Read on...

    CenturyLink Cloud Raises $8.5 Million For Its Enterprise Platform As A Service

    July 3, 2012
    By Jason Verge

    CenturyLink Cloud has raised a $8.5m series A round to help solve the enterprise PaaS problem. The network engineer- and developer-designed PaaS solution has been built for and is aimed strictly for the enterprise, taking into consideration many factors that other developer- and SMB-focused PaaS providers tend to ignore, mainly considerations in the areas of security and compliance. There’s a lot of value-add in CenturyLink Cloud’s treatment of the platform layer, backed by four years of IP and some serious talent in the industry. It’s an up-and-coming firm worth noting.

    How CenturyLink Cloud PaaS cracks the enterprise

    There is a three-pronged approach when it comes to entering the enterprise, founded on automation, abstraction and environments. CenturyLink Cloud automates the best practices associated with setting up and scaling front- or back-office infrastructure. It aims to remove dependency on physical hardware. And in terms of environments, it offers deployable, optimized business environments in addition to APIs and infrastructure optimization. Currently in two datacenters, it’s mapped out two more for the fall. The company takes a zone approach to North America, dividing by West, East and Central. The first East Coast datacenter will be added later this year, as well as another in the Central...

    Read on...

    Multi-tenancy alliance could enable virtual data centers

    July 3, 2012
    By

    Check out a great article featuring some quotes by Jared Wray our Founder and CEO about Multi-tenancy. http://searchitchannel.techtarget.com/news/article/0,289142,sid96_gci1379652,0

    ...

    Read on...

    Equinix and CenturyLink Cloud Partner to Accelerate Cloud Adoption in Enterprise

    July 3, 2012
    By

    Companies team to deliver enterprise-class hybrid cloud solutions

    Redwood City, Calif. and Bellevue, Wash. — March 27, 2012 — Equinix, Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX), a provider of global data center services, and CenturyLink Cloud, the enterprise cloud platform provider, today announced a partnership to create an enterprise-ready gateway to the cloud by offering CenturyLink Cloud’s Enterprise Cloud Platform via Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers. The partnership enables enterprise customers to take advantage of the business agility and cost efficiency cloud technologies offer by using CenturyLink Cloud’s enterprise-grade Infrastructure as a Service across Platform Equinix™. Initially, CenturyLink Cloud’s solution will be available in Equinix’s Chicago and New York data centers with plans to expand globally, first into Europe and later to Asia.

    “Platform Equinix provides secure, scalable and highly interconnected data center services across 38 strategic global markets. Our network choice combined with access to a wide array of leading cloud services solutions, gives customers a rich environment to build and integrate private, public, and hybrid cloud solutions,” said Chris Sharp, general manager, cloud and content for Equinix. “Our partnership with CenturyLink Cloud further strengthens Equinix’s position as the destination of choice for enterprise cloud deployments through high availability, security and business...

    Read on...


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