Spinning up a JBoss or Tomcat server can be time-consuming, and worse; it can interrupt your flow when all you really want to do is jump into a project. At CenturyLink, we decided to automate the entire process of spinning up a server, installing and configuring both the software and dependencies. We took it one step further by providing an easy way to automatically deploy Dynatrace, to monitor your new Java app servers, free for 30 days.
The workhorses behind all of this automated magic are our Blueprints, which provide the capability to automatically install and configure applications and servers and even build out whole environments on our Cloud platform. A Blueprint is basically a repeatable workflow. Blueprints allow users with little or no in-depth, technical knowledge to quickly deploy different infrastructure and applications. There are many open-source, totally-free applications in our Blueprint Library (and more on the way.)
So, for example, let's say a developer (we'll call him Samson) wants to create a Tomcat server in our cloud and then add performance monitoring to it. Samson logs into our Control Portal and finds the “Install Tomcat on Linux x64” Blueprint. He clicks on the Blueprint, enters some configuration through a wizard (as illustrated below) and then deploys it. The Blueprint runs and Samson’s end result is a fully-configured Tomcat server.
Aha! Samson can take advantage of the free 30-day trial Dynatrace APM Blueprint to get some insight into how his application is performing. He wants to find out where his app's problems and bottle necks are, so he goes back to the Control Portal and finds the “Install Dynatrace Free Trial All In One” Blueprint. Just like the Tomcat Blueprint, Samson goes through the wizard to enter a few lines of information to configure the server and Dynatrace application and register for a free 30-day trial license. Once he deploys, it takes only a couple minutes for the Blueprint to run. Samson’s end result is a fully-functioning performance monitoring solution configured on a new server, ready-to-use.
Besides the obvious time savings, what are some of the greatest benefits that Samson gained from using Blueprints together?
Low cost and open-source
Many of the Blueprints are made for partner products that are open-source. That means all Samson has to pay for is the Cloud space provided. Many other partners bundle a free trial of some kind in with their Blueprints. In the case above, Dynatrace provides an unrestricted, free 30-day trial license for use on the CenturyLink Cloud.
A Blueprint that configures your application, server or environment
The Blueprint workflows are set up to install and configure a product based on best practices. That means Samson can easily deploy servers and monitoring without doing a "deep-dive" just to make sure the configuration is correct.
The Dynatrace Blueprint was developed as a one-stack workflow that delivers an entire process with a few clicks. This means far less time and headaches when trying to implement a complex and customized monitoring system for the Tomcat server or other applications you may run.
Repeatable and customizable
Every Blueprint allows a customer to deploy it as many times as needed. Each Blueprint acts as a template to provide a standard design or workflow. However, Samson could also easily copy and customize the workflow however he wants to accommodate his specific needs. For example, if the server included in the existing Tomcat Blueprint is too small for Samson’s repeatable process, he can create his own Blueprint with the right-sized server and include the Tomcat installation automation.
Manual or automated options
Most people use blueprints through the Control Portal, meaning they manually start the deploy process each time they want to create something new. But, there is also the option to use an API to support an automatic, continuous deployment. Samson could use tools we provide, like BPformation, to manage his Blueprints. Additionally, he can use other tools like clc-sdk to turn the install and configure process into one API call.
Using Blueprints to install and configure means there are not as many chances for code to be compromised or fall victim to human error. Once a Blueprint has been developed and proven reliable, the code, and everything surrounding it doesn't change unless the owner wants it to. The only chance for error would be from incorrect info entered when using the Blueprint, which is minimal since very little information is required to be entered manually.
Check out our Partner List to see what other cool technologies we’ve integrated with the CenturyLink Platform. If you want to play around with these or other Blueprints, visit the CenturyLink Cloud website to get started. You will need an account if you aren't already a customer (but you can try before you buy with our free trial).
I’d really like to get your feedback on this Blog and learn what software you’d like to see integrated in to a Blueprint. Leave a comment and let’s talk about it. Thanks for reading.