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, CenturyLink Private Cloud makes you the landlord, where you handpick the tenants as you see fit.
Most importantly, the product offers this enhanced control without compromising self-service, scale, and automation.
Ten Ways CenturyLink Simplifies Private Cloud
Let’s step through ten important CenturyLink Private Cloud product attributes, and how they make life easier:
- Dedicated hardware & physical isolation. Compute, storage, and network are all dedicated to you, physically isolated from other deployments. Table stakes for a private cloud.
- We’ll Deploy Where You Want. Place your node close to employees, users, or partners, in over 55 of our state-of-the-art data centers. You get unparalleled geographic flexibility and support for advanced networking and geographic flexibility. Plus, this helps us offer the best SLAs possible, compared to customer premises models.
- Administrative control of your users and their deployments, with an enterprise permissions model. IT already has a way they want segment access across a global employee base. We help you do that with point-and-click ease at a granular level.
- Easy oversight and day-to-day management of deployed apps. Our management interface – the Control Portal – is a breakthrough experience for managing cloud environments at scale. In way less time that you thought possible.
- Self-service access. This is why employees turned to public cloud in the first place – servers in minutes, so they can get on with their jobs. CenturyLink Private Cloud offers self-service to users via our Control Portal and with an API.
- Chargebacks, governance & detailed internal usage tracking. As IT aligns closer with the business, chargebacks and showbacks become crucial to embracing cloud. Our built-in account hierarchies and granular invoices combine to offer you unprecedented detail to your employees about their usage.
- 99.99% SLAs & CenturyLink Cloud management of infrastructure. The point of cloud is to get out of the infrastructure management, remember? Private cloud doesn’t change that. We have deep expertise in running cloud at scale, and that expertise goes to work for you here.
- Elastic compute, storage, and network. Sure, capacity is fixed within the physical environment. But you can ratchet resources up and down for each app that’s hosted there. And our Service Engineering team will help you capacity plan as you go.
- Regular access to new features and innovation. Our private cloud is updated with new features every 21 business days, just like our public cloud. And because of our DevOps expertise, the downtime for your apps is negligible. So when we add new features (like Group-based autoscaling), private cloud customers have them at the same time. The update schedule for most other public clouds – let alone the other private cloud vendors – is not nearly as aggressive as what CenturyLink offers.
- OpEx model consumption. CenturyLink Private Cloud is a pure operational expense, offering flexibility and freedom when compared to capital-intensive alternatives.
One other element of why we think this approach works so well – CenturyLink Private Cloud is federated into our public cloud network. That means that hybrid configurations become dramatically simpler. Deploy apps across our public nodes and your private nodes, just like you would any other multi-data center configuration (even using Blueprints if you want!). Create firewall rules to govern access between public and private.
Hybrid IT has been a big focus for CenturyLink in the recent past, and it’s intensifying.
CenturyLink Private Cloud is a product will appeal to those enterprises that want a “transformational private cloud” (using Forrester’s excellent private cloud framework), where the goal is control and agility.
Want to know more? Check out the product page, or reach out to our private cloud sales team. We are looking forward to helping you advance your cloud strategy!
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 policies are followed once a workload leaves your local infrastructure? Does your cloud environment require unique credentials that don’t meet your corporate complexity requirements? Do users of your public cloud environment have more permission than they should, especially compared to your private cloud? “Security” is an umbrella term for a wide range of considerations that may impact your vendor choice and implementation strategy.
Networking. Meaningful hybrid integration requires thoughtful network design. What is the impact of latency between the public cloud location(s) and your private infrastructure? Do you have chatty applications that will struggle to work over wide area networks? Is there proper bandwidth for transferring large data sets? Can the hybrid network topology use your existing IP blocks? Do the same network security appliances you leverage in your private cloud work in the public environment? Cloud providers are increasingly offering sophisticated networking options, but you’ll likely find it challenging to natively extend your existing topology to the cloud.
Data and Application Integration. This is one of the first areas of integration between public and private environments that organizations focus on, but you still will face challenges when doing hybrid integration. Does the public cloud platform throttle inbound queries? Can you use the same patterns and tools to move data or process business events regardless of where the application resides? Can applications gracefully handle downtime of individual components that reside in different parts of the hybrid cloud? It’s wonderful to have a choice of which workloads to run where, but the nature of the integration with that workload may be a deciding factor in selecting a host.
System Management. Lifecycle management of hybrid cloud systems can be gruesome if done incorrectly. How can you do effective configuration management when infrastructure resources are provisioned in a self-service fashion across environments? Are you capable of securing and patching servers that sit across multiple environments? The nature of capacity planning changes when dealing with elastic resource pools, but nothing is truly infinite. Each environment has unique, natural constraints that have to be taken into account when assessing planned usage. When it comes to monitoring, all environments aren’t equal. The public cloud environments may only track a subset of monitors that you are used to capturing, and you might be faced with using multiple tools for monitoring system health. Depending on how tightly you’ve set up your network integration, it may not be possible to monitor, configure, or administer cloud servers with the same tools and processes you use for the private cloud.
Compatibility. There’s a good chance that your public and private clouds are running different infrastructure and software stacks. If you have an existing dependency on a particular hypervisor, you may face challenges when dealing with a public cloud that uses a different hypervisor – or doesn’t expose one to you at all! Can you use the same change management processes across your hybrid cloud, or are each unique depending on the provider? Core services and capabilities will probably differ greatly in a hybrid environment as a web-scale public cloud environment is inherently built differently than most any private cloud. Check your expectations with regards to compatibility, and expect to face challenges when the inevitable mismatch surfaces.
Portability. Is portability a holy grail of private cloud? To be sure, many start down the hybrid cloud path with visions of moving workloads easily between hosts as the business need dictates. Moving virtual machines and applications between clouds has gotten easier, but you will struggle to move metadata and configurations seamlessly between environments. If the hybrid cloud is based on identical platforms on both ends, this wont’ be as big of a challenge, but if there’s any compatibility mismatch, this will turn into an area of frustration.
Tooling and Skills. Hybrid cloud skills – and cloud skills in general – are in high demand. Some are finding it very difficult to find people with the architectural skills needed to deploy a successful hybrid cloud. A hybrid cloud plan requires expertise in infrastructure configuration, network architecture, application design, and business process automation. Do you have the skills and courage necessary to remake IT in a way that can advantage of the new cloud model? Gartner points out the difficulty of the cultural transformation needed to take advantage of private and hybrid clouds.
Certainly the technologies to deliver private cloud are relatively immature and evolving, and many enterprises find that custom work is required to meet their needs, but much more difficult are the transformational adjustments needed to use the technology. Cloud services require operational processes that are designed for speed and customized for the services offered. An ingrained IT culture focused on technical expertise doesn’t fit a fully automated, self-service model that requires a service-oriented, team approach.
Even if this transformation is under way, you’ll be challenged to find tools that offer the same capabilities across clouds. Ideally you can employ the same tools that your organization has already invested in, but it may be difficult to avoid new tools (and training) required to properly deliver hybrid cloud services.
Setting Yourself Up for Success
A hybrid cloud brings all sorts of complexity along with its tangible business benefits. Organizations are adopting hybrid clouds because they need the agility that the cloud paradigm brings. However, it takes thoughtful consideration and ongoing effort to stand up a maintainable, functional, integrated hybrid cloud that delivers on its promised efficiency. The good news is that there are answers to each of the challenges listed above! Join us for part two of this series where we provide some practical solutions to each challenge you face on your hybrid cloud journey.
If you’ve been reading cloud-related news lately or you follow any developers or system admins on Twitter, then you’ve undoubtedly seen the words “container”, “Docker”, and “CoreOS” written a few thousand times over the past year or so. Chatter has particularly picked up in the last few months with Docker 1.0 being released in June and CoreOS announcing their first stable release within the past few weeks. CoreOS also received an 8 million dollar investment just a couple of months ago, and Docker just got another $40 million in funding a few days ago. And just yesterday, CenturyLink joined the container party and announced the release of the open-source Docker management platform, Panamax. Developed by the recognized thought-leaders at CenturyLink Labs, Panamax was described by RedMonk principal analyst James Governor as “Docker management for humans. It dramatically simplifies multi-container app deployment.”
This is bleeding edge technology we’re talking about here, so if you haven’t heard about any of it yet, there’s no time like the present. Docker is one of the fastest-growing open-source projects ever, with more than 550 contributors and 7 million downloads in just over a year since its release. The power of Docker lies in its ability to build and deploy applications in containers, which are extremely efficient and more portable than traditional virtual machines. This is because they abstract only the operating system kernel rather than an entire device. Of course, there are plenty of places to read up and find out more information on what all the fuss is about, and none are better than our very own CenturyLink Labs blog, where the Labs team has been pumping out exceptional content about all things Docker and CoreOS for months.
But if you’re like me, you’ll never be satisfied just reading about anything – you want to try it already! If so, I’ve got good news for you. Whether you’re looking to just get your feet wet and experiment with containers or you’re feeling ready to jump right into the deep-end and start deploying applications with them, CenturyLink Cloud has got you covered. There are at least three ways you can get Docker up and running on CenturyLink Cloud right now: install Docker on a CentOS server, provision a CoreOS server running Docker, or take advantage of Panamax and make it even easier to use Docker. Whichever route you choose, all you need is a CenturyLink Cloud account to get started.
Option #1 – Installing Docker on CentOS
You might not be too familiar with CoreOS, so if you want to get started using Docker on a more familiar Linux distribution, you can easily use our Docker blueprint to install it on any CentOS server running on CenturyLink Cloud. You’ll even get the option to deploy a Hello World container so you can see a simple example of how Docker containers work and get started building your own.
Option #2 – Installing CoreOS
Interested in CoreOS? This lightweight Linux distribution is optimized for massive server deployments and it comes with Docker preinstalled because it’s designed specifically to run applications as containers. You can follow our step-by-step instructions or watch our how-to video for using blueprints to build a CoreOS server cluster on CenturyLink Cloud and start deploying your applications on Docker in minutes.
Option #3 – Installing Panamax on CoreOS
Maybe you like the idea of Docker and CoreOS, but you’re not a Linux expert and you’re a little afraid of getting too into the weeds on the command line. If so, CenturyLink Labs has developed just the answer for you: Panamax. Panamax is a single management platform for creating, sharing, and deploying Docker-containerized applications. By following similar steps to our CoreOS deployment above and selecting the “with Panamax” version of the blueprint, you can have a CoreOS server up and running with Panamax installed in no time, and there’s no easier way to get started with Docker.
Not only can you use Panamax to deploy images from Docker’s repository, you can also deploy complex multi-container Dockerized apps from Panamax’s Open-Source Application Template Library. Think of these templates as collections of Docker images that work together to form the complete architecture of an application, with separate containers for the database vs. web tiers, for example.
If you’re looking to deploy one of the available template options like Wordpress or Drupal, you’ll have it working with a single click in seconds flat. However, you can also choose to define your own custom templates to use and even add custom repositories to search as the Panamax community grows. There’s no easier or faster way to start using Docker containers than with Panamax, and it’s built to leverage the power and scale of CoreOS.
Have a server already? Install Docker! Curious about CoreOS? Provision it! Feeling overwhelmed? Try Panamax. With CenturyLink Cloud, you’ve got lots of ways to get started using Docker right now, so no more excuses! Sign up for a CenturyLink Cloud account today and add containers to your repertoire of application deployment options today and start enjoying their power, performance, and portability.
Related Resources: Cloud Server, Private Cloud, Object Storage, Cloud Orchestration
Are you getting the full benefit of the cloud if you don’t take advantage of its elasticity? To be sure, there are many ways that cloud environments—running dynamic OR static workloads—can positively impact your business agility. But cloud computing fundamentally changes the relationship between infrastructure and workloads that run upon it; you can constantly right-size by adding and removing capacity on demand instead of being stuck with over-sized or under-powered environments. To do this effectively, you need flexible options for automatically and manually adjusting your infrastructure resources. In this post, I outline five different application scenarios, and which CenturyLink Cloud scaling capability delivers the optimal elasticity solution.
1. Modern web application with variable usage? Horizontal Autoscale!
Are most of your internal or external facing web applications in constant, heavy use? If so, I’d be surprised! The applications that your employees rely on may be busy during predictable periods, or, experience load whenever random business conditions occur. Public web applications may spike in usage when marketing campaigns are in flight, or when an avalanche of traffic follows a social mention.
Instead of standing up gobs of (costly) infrastructure that only add value during random usage spikes, consider services like CenturyLink Cloud Horizontal Autoscale. Our Horizontal Autoscale service is a great fit for web applications that cleanly scale by adding or removing virtual servers from a defined pool. Simply park powered off servers in a CenturyLink Cloud Server Group and define an Autoscale policy that outlines criteria for scaling out and in. When that policy is applied to a Server Group and tied to our Load Balancing service, the platform quickly powers servers on and off in response to changes in utilization.
What does it cost to "park" a server? Customers only pay for storage and operating system licensing when a server is powered off. For example, if your mobile web application can satisfy its regular load with three servers (Ubuntu 12.04, 2 CPUs, 6 GB of RAM, 20GB of storage each), it only costs just $15 per month to keep five servers powered off in reserve to handle occasional spikes. That uptime peace of mind will cost you less than lunch for two in a moderately priced Chinese restaurant.
2. Relational database under load? Vertical Autoscale!
Let’s be honest, not EVERY application is designed to scale horizontally by adding more servers to share the load. Rather, many applications benefit by adding horsepower to the existing servers. For instance, relational databases work in multi-server configurations, but each server typically has a lot of resources allocated. In that case, adding more CPU/memory/storage to a given server is a perfectly viable way to handle new demand.
The CenturyLink Cloud is one of the few providers that offer an automated vertical scaling function. Our Vertical Autoscale service adds CPU capacity to running servers without requiring a reboot, increasing capacity based on utilization criteria that you specify. When the usage spike is over, the Vertical Autoscale service will remove CPU capacity and reboot the server during the window that you select. If you need to add storage or RAM to a server on the fly, you can also manually update servers, also typically without a need to reboot. This is a powerful way to take advantage of cloud elasticity without rebuilding your existing applications for horizontal scale.
3. Worker nodes that are falling behind? Horizontal Autoscale!
In loosely coupled, distributed systems, you’ll often find services that work asynchronously in the background. These services may take product orders from your website and update the transaction system, perform financial calculations, render complex animation sequences, and much more. For example, consider a website where people can register for a new, paid service. That system has to perform a fraud check, authenticate a payment method, and create a container for the new user. A "new user signup" message is dropped to a queue, and a set of servers are all tasked with reading data from the queue and processing the request. If the number of signups spikes, these worker nodes can get overwhelmed and the new customers are stuck waiting for their signup confirmation.
In a case like this, it makes a lot of sense to scale the worker nodes horizontally. CenturyLink Cloud Horizontal Autoscale can respond to CPU or memory spikes by powering on (and off!) servers that can instantly help relieve the backlog of queued up requests. Cloud users don’t have to choose a load balancer to associate with an Autoscale policy, so in that case, the Server Group just expands and contracts the number of running servers without worrying about routing traffic to them. A strategy like this can reduce the risk of a poor user experience and encourage customers to trust your application, even during busy periods.
4. Web application with predictable bursts in usage? Schedule-based Scaling!
We’re probably all familiar with this back-office scenario: at the end of the month, the financial accounting system is overwhelmed by closing activities and invoice generation. To combat these predictable spikes, many companies either (a) deploy systems like this on pricey hardware that always has enough headroom to deal with the spike, or (b) resign themselves to delivering a subpar, slow application during these bursty windows.
There’s a better way! The CenturyLink Cloud is built with automation and management in mind. Apply a "scheduled task" to a server so that it powers on at a specific point each day/week/month to increase application capacity. Create a second scheduled task that powers that server back down when the predictable spike is over. This sort of elasticity is exactly what the cloud is good at, and helps you deliver an optimized application that delights users, keeps costs down, and helps you arrive at business conclusions faster.
5. Cache cluster that needs controlled resizing? Manually scale up/out!
You may love automation as much as we do, but sometimes a scale event requires careful planning and manual resizing because of complexity with the target application. You may not want an automated service resizing your NoSQL database, cache cluster, or mission critical line of business system whenever it detects a heavy load.
In cases like this, you can choose from the full catalog of elasticity options that the cloud provides. Experiencing I/O contention and want to add more servers and spread the intense demand? Clone a running server or quickly build a new one from scratch. Need to add storage to a server that’s rapidly running out of room? Add more space to an existing volume to add a new volume to the running server. Looking to add CPU or memory to a server and then update the application to recognize the new capacity? Immediately add resources and run a script against all the resized servers.
CenturyLink Cloud Scaling Tools Deliver Elasticity
Elasticity is a hallmark of the public cloud. It helps you maintain a dynamic resource pool that expands and contracts to meet business demand. The CenturyLink Cloud offers a leading set of services to help you automatically and manually adjust capacity for one server, or a fleet of servers.
As you migrate applications to the cloud—or design entirely new cloud-native ones—do it with scalability and elasticity in mind!
Related Resources: Hyperscale Server, Cloud Servers, Object Storage, Cloud Orchestration
New cloud node in Toronto gives customers more choice and flexibility for Canadian-based cloud services
The CenturyLink Cloud global footprint expansion continues.
Today, we’re excited to give customers a new public cloud deployment option in Canada. Effective immediately, customers can deploy and manage virtual resources in our “CA3” cloud node in our CenturyLink Toronto “TR1” facility.
For businesses based in Canada, and those that do business in Canada – this new CenturyLink Cloud node offers several benefits: data sovereignty (for compliance), performance (host your apps close to your users) and the best aspects of having the CenturyLink Cloud available in a CenturyLink facility:
- Scale. The CA3 node is built to handle the pent-up demand for cloud services in Canada.
- Advanced connectivity. CenturyLink customers who already deploy resources in our TR1 location can now connect existing infrastructure to our public cloud offering. Customers using nearby TR3, our new Toronto data center opening later this year, will also be able to take advantage of this capability.
- Self-service access to a robust set of cloud services.Users have Lots of options to build and manage enterprise cloud environments, including Hyperscale instances with 100% flash storage for Hadoop and NoSQL workloads.
Have additional questions? We’ve got answers!
What cloud services are available in this location?
Our new CA3 facility boasts the full CenturyLink Cloud product catalog, including:
- Compute. Deploy servers with custom CPU and RAM dimensions. Recent benchmarking results by third parties show how powerful our servers are – see for yourself here.
- Storage. Block storage for app data. Customers can opt for our premium storage option that auto-replicates data from our Toronto facility to our Vancouver location. This provides geo-redundancy and preserves data sovereignty for mission-critical workloads. Object storage is not available in this facility, but it is available in Canada.
- Networking. Create and manage complex network topologies all via self-service - load balancers, VPNs, and firewalls.
I’m a CenturyLink customer with deployments in Toronto. What capabilities does this new node offer?
Good news – you can now extend these environments to CenturyLink Cloud via direct connect and IPSEC VPNs in some cases. This configuration delivers better performance (via ultra-low latency connections), robust security (new security add-ons are available), and lower cost (since the public Internet is bypassed, thereby lowering bandwidth fees).
Are cloud-based managed services available in this location on CenturyLink Cloud?
Today managed services on CenturyLink Cloud are available in Santa Clara and Sterling. Look for them in Canada in coming months.