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2013 Cloud Predictions: How Did We Do?

Last year, we made 12 predictions about what would happen in the cloud space in 2013. As the year comes to a close, it’s only fair for us to assess our hits and misses to see how well we did.

Recap and Scorecard

PREDICTION #1: 2013 will be the year of cloud management software.

REALITY: Hit. We saw this come true on multiple fronts. First, cloud management providers Enstratius and ServiceMesh were acquired by Dell and CSC, respectively. Tier 3 – known for the sophisticated management software that runs our IaaS – was acquired by CenturyLink. On top of this, Gartner estimates that a new vendor enters the cloud management space every month, and nearly every cloud provider is constantly beefing up their own management offerings. This shows the strategic value of comprehensive management capabilities in a cloud portfolio. Customer adoption of these platforms is also on the rise and Gartner sees 60% of Global 2000 enterprises using cloud management technology (up from 30% in 2013).

 

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.

REALITY: Mixed. Of course, cloud prices definitely declined in 2013 and massive scale continued to be a key selling point. Hybrid cloud picked up momentum this year as more companies looked to establish an IT landscape that leveraged on-premises assets while taking advantage of cloud scale. In order to maximize the efficiency of hybrid scenarios, companies need consistency in processes and tools. While cloud management platforms have helped with this a bit, there wasn’t a wholesale move by cloud providers to seamlessly integrate their core offerings with established products.

 

PREDICTION #3: Enterprises move from pilots to projects, and architecture takes a front seat.

REALITY: Hit. There’s been much less gnashing of teeth on “should I use the cloud” this year, and much more discussion about how to capitalize on the cloud. We’ve seen our customers move to more substantial solutions and ask for more sophisticated capabilities, such as self-service networking. Throughout the industry, we’re seeing more enterprise-class case studies where customers are putting mission critical workloads in the cloud. However, outages still occur on any cloud, and providers are publishing guidelines on how to properly architect for high availability. The recent AWS conference was full of sessions on architecture best practices, and developers are hungry for information about how those best practices are applied.

 

PREDICTION #4: Enterprises start to embrace NoSQL databases like Cassandra and Riak, and JavaScript becomes a legitimate part of some enterprise applications.

REALITY: Hit. Influential developer-centric analyst firm Redmonk occasionally does “language rankings” and the most recent one showed that JavaScript was tied with Java for the most popular language used by developers. Node.js – the web server framework for JavaScript-oriented applications – continued to explode in popularity in 2013. Relational databases continued to mature in 2013, but NoSQL databases gained further momentum as a viable (and preferred!) repository for highly available storage. We here at CenturyLink see a number of advantages to this approach as well. In fact, our cloud services are now largely powered by the flexible, high performing Couchbase product, an upgrade from Microsoft SQL for our use case.

 

PREDICTION #5: Standalone, public PaaS offerings will be slow to gain enterprise adoption.

REALITY: Hit. In 2013 we saw renewed discussion on what PaaS actually is and what it SHOULD be. Longtime PaaS providers Microsoft and Google added IaaS products to their portfolio, while smaller firms like Apprenda saw success in private PaaS. Our sister company, AppFog, has launched over 100,000 apps, including some impressive enterprise deployments. Former Tier 3 colleague Adron Hall asked whether PaaS was still “a thing” or whether new container technologies like Docker were going to replace it. However, as some like our own Jared Wray and Red Hat’s Krish Subramanian have said, PaaS is about more than JUST application containers. A rich PaaS also includes the orchestration, management, and services that make it a valuable platform for web applications of any type. Either way, PaaS is still in its infancy and will continue to morph as customer scenarios take shape.

 

PREDICTION #6: Public goes private.

REALITY: Mixed. There were hints of this in 2013 as Amazon won a bid to win a private cloud for the CIA (and for you too if you have half a billion sitting around!),  Microsoft offered a “pack” for making on-premises environments resemble their public cloud, and platforms like OpenStack gained traction as a private cloud alternative. We continued to make advances in supporting private scenarios by adding self-service site-to-site VPN capabilities to an already-robust set of connectivity options. I gave this a “mixed” score because as a whole, public cloud providers don’t yet (and may never) make it simple to run their stack in a private data center for mainstream enterprises.

 

PREDICTION #7: Cloud providers embrace alternate costing models.

REALITY: Hit. 2013 saw some changes to how cloud customers paid for resources. We modified our pricing to decouple some components while still making it easy to provision exactly the amount of CPU, memory and storage that you need for a given server. Google and Microsoft both launched their IaaS clouds with “per minute” pricing for compute resources. Cloud providers have yet to move to a “pay for consumption instead of allocation” model for things like storage, but overall we’ve seen a maturation of pricing considerations in 2013.

 

PREDICTION #8: While portability will increase at the application and hypervisor layer, middleware and environment metadata will remain more proprietary.

REALITY: Mixed. We might have been too pessimistic last year! DevOps tools have flourished in 2013 and platform adapters have made it possible to move workloads between clouds without a massive re-architecture effort. To be sure, code portability is still MUCH simpler than environment portability. Each cloud provider has their own value-added services that rarely transfer easily to other locations, and no clear IaaS standard has emerged. However, platforms like OpenStack are attempting to make cloud portability a reality, and the increasing prevalence of public APIs makes it possible for tools like Pivotal’s BOSH or Chef to orchestrate deployments in diverse provider environments.

 

PREDICTION #9: Global expansion takes center stage.

REALITY: Hit. One of the first questions we hear from prospective customers is “where are your data centers?” This year, almost all of the leading cloud providers expanded their footprint around the globe. For our part, we added data centers in Canada, the UK, and Germany. Now, as part of CenturyLink, we have major expansion plans in 2014. 

 

PREDICTION #10: IaaS providers who don’t court developers get left behind.

REALITY: Hit. In 2013, Stephen O’Grady wrote that developers are the “new kingmakers” and this was reinforced by Gartner analyst Lydia Leong who wrote that IT operations no longer has a monopoly on cloud procurement. Developers are now running the show – bringing in vendors that meet their unique criteria. Consequently, a new crop of developer-centric cloud providers has popped up. While they don’t offer managed services or sophisticated resource management, they DO help developers get going quickly in the cloud. We wooed developers with new self-service capabilities, API improvements, and with new features like Autoscale and webhooks. Developers will continue to be a focus for us at CenturyLink and we plan on continuing our regular Open Source contributions!

 

PREDICTION #11: Clouds that cannot be remotely managed through an API will fall behind.

REALITY: Hit. APIs are the gateway to modern services and allow ecosystems to flourish. Consider the vibrant crop of cloud management platforms discussed in prediction #1. And that is just one small example. The vast majority of clouds listed in Gartner’s 2013 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure have public, comprehensive APIs that developers can use to consume the cloud in whatever way they want. In 2013, we started an effort to replace our existing API with an even more expansive offering that offers complete parity with our industry leading Control Portal user interface. That effort will continue into the next year. When complete, a new host of capabilities will be accessible for CenturyLink, our partners, and mostly important, our customers.

 

PREDICTION #12: Usability and self-service become table stakes for cloud providers.

REALITY: Mixed. In 2013, we seemed to hit the point where “clouds that aren’t really clouds” struggled as the market began to demand more. Customers expected more and more self-service capabilities, and Tier 3 – along with most every other major provider – focused heavily on that in 2013. Platform usability was a lesser focus this year. While new clouds from Microsoft and Google included relatively straightforward user experiences, few providers made any massive visual improvements. While the CenturyLink Cloud continues to be lauded for an easy to use, powerful interface, we haven’t stood still. A major redesign is underway that will surface more data, simplify activities, and improve performance.

 

Summary

2013 was an important year in the maturation of the cloud industry. New vendors were introduced, popular platforms were acquired, and consumption of cloud services skyrocketed. What will happen in 2014? Stay tuned for our predictions!

Five Best Practices for Accelerating Your Enterprise Cloud Strategy

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 organizational change happens. This cloud-oriented tiger team should be tasked with identifying strategic projects and executing them. Instead of pursuing complex, instantly-outdated, multi-year plans to embrace the cloud, start small and get moving! Ideally, this team is comprised of executive sponsors (from IT and other business units), a program lead, business analysts (who understand standard operating procedures and business needs), application architects, network engineers, and developers. This is a team of hands-on doers, not a bunch of box-drawing hand-wavers. Find the top performers in your organization and assemble them into a team that can partner with business units and start delivering high-value projects while aggregating valuable knowledge about cloud technology and IT-as-a-Service.

Another bit of good news – the individuals on the soon-to-be tiger team are already thinking of cloud on their own time, and have likely been itching for this kind of assignment.

#2 - Find the *right* cloud provider for your organization.

There are dozens upon dozens of interesting cloud infrastructure providers, and they aren’t all the same. Some are vanilla providers without much differentiation while others offer something unique.

The trick is finding the right one that is a match for your organizational culture, skills, priorities, or business needs. This isn’t unique to the cloud and applies to many (most?) of the strategic investments that a company makes. It’s likely that you have an evaluation process in place today that use assessment checklists, preferred vendor lists, strategic sourcing departments, and more. You also likely have a set of IT requirements that any new vendor needs to comply with. Here are some things to make sure you are thinking about:

     
  • Security capabilities. What kind of physical, network, and account security does the provider offer? Are you running batch jobs with sensitive data, or hosting a public website with limited private data?
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  • Compliance certifications. Do you need assurances that the provider can host HIPAA or PCI-compliant applications? Are you storing data for EU users and weighing data sovereignty concerns?
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  • Performance. Does the provider offer server and network specifications that meet or exceed what you have in house? Does that matter for the types of applications you plan to run in the cloud? Can you provision components (virtual machines, storage, networks, etc.) at different performance levels to meet your needs?
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  • High availability. Are the various services you depend on individually designed to be highly available, and does the provider offer the necessary services (e.g. VPN) to architect highly available applications on the platform?
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  • Strong SLAs. Cloud failures are inevitable, so how does the provider define their SLA with regards to availability, response times, and outage credits?
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  • Disaster Recovery procedures. Do you have mature processes in place to manually fail over in the case of a full site outage, or are you looking for a provider who delivers a built-in DR capability?
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  • Global footprint. Location, location, location. Does the provider’s data center presence match your customer and employee geographies?
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  • Management interface. The creation of a cloud resource is invariably the smallest portion of its lifespan. So, it’s great if you can spin up individual servers or databases quickly, but how easily can you manage them after the fact? This may include installing updates, resizing capacity, changing security roles, or even shutting it down.
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  • Application services. Do you need more than raw infrastructure? Looking for managed databases or web platforms that abstract away the low level details? Or storage services that can be accessed from cloud – or on-premises – systems?
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  • Pricing plans. Are you looking for a fixed contract (or monthly commit) that results in lower costs? Or do you need a provider who delivers true pay-as-you-go services?
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  • Support. What level of support is needed? Do you want a dedicated support person? Call center? Public knowledge base? User forums?
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  • Professional services. Do you expect a consultative experience during the POC stage or when doing critical business updates? How about the full outsourcing of cloud server management to the provider?

Assess what really matters to YOUR organization, and find the provider who most closely matches those priorities.

#3 – Find, partner with, learn from, and collaborate with shadow IT.

What is Shadow IT? A phenomenon that occurs when there is unmet technology needs in an organization and employees “go rogue” and use non-standard solutions. You’ve likely read negative press about the concept and you might even have corporate initiatives meant to stamp it out.

Where do you often find shadow IT in your organization?

     
  • Line of business applications. These are the applications used every day to collect, store, and analyze data used for business decisions. This can take the form of Microsoft Access databases, Filemaker Pro applications, Excel workbooks, or custom developed web applications.
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  • Productivity solutions. This is the technology that is meant to improve efficiency and collaboration. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) brought this to the forefront as employees used tablets and smartphones at work, whether supported or not. Other things in this category include instant messaging and VOIP tools like Skype, and virtual meetingplace tools like Google+ Hangouts.
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  • Data management. Often departments need to store, analyze, or transfer data and don’t like the sanctioned options offered by corporate IT. This may mean creating production database replicas for later analysis (by custom BI tools!), or using storage services like DropBox to exchange files with business partners.

The bad news? These shadow solutions may not meet corporate security standards, are invisible to IT audits, don’t feed innovative ideas back to central IT, and frequently become too large and difficult to maintain locally.

Now, the good news – your employees are showing initiative and can show you exactly how IT can improve day-to-day productivity!

The one thing all the above categories has in common is how much EASIER each one is in the cloud. Today, you can use a credit card to provision enterprise-class CRM, ERP, marketing, and HR software in the cloud without batting an eye.

Instead of shaming and shutting down those in your organization who are trying to solve problems in new ways, partner with them and make them some of the most passionate advocates for your new cloud projects. Figure out what technologies they’ve pursued, how they evaluated them, and use their knowledge to make better cloud choices.

#4 - Learn and enable best practices in the cloud.

The cloud is very different from how you do on-premises enterprise IT. Resource planning, financial projections, technology choices, level of control, and self-service model are all very likely foreign to your IT department. Therefore, carefully consider how you discover and capture best practices in this new world. What are some areas to focus your attention on in order to truly take advantage of the cloud?

     
  • Embrace automation everywhere. Automation is the difference between long-term cloud success and simply having a souped-up virtualized environment. Self-service is critical for the agility promised by the cloud, and that’s only possible if you’ve made a concerted effort to automate nearly every activity in the application lifecycle. This includes provisioning environments, updating environments, continuous application deployment, automated testing, auto scaling of servers, and much more. Could you immediately adopt an immutable server model where you never update a deployed server, but simply re-create it whenever there are application changes? If not, look at how you do these sorts of things internally today, and start introducing processes and tools that will make it that much easier to understand and exploit the cloud.
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  • Design software differently. New web applications (whether hosted in your data center or the public cloud) should be built for multi-tenancy, statelessness, horizontal scale, ready for failure, and service-oriented. This means building applications made up of components that can scale independently, communicate asynchronously, and have no dependency on a particular piece of hardware. Deploying an application in the cloud doesn’t guarantee high availability; rather, the application must be specifically architected in a way to be resilient from failures. This may be counter to how applications are built in your organizations today, but unless you design web applications in this manner, you’ll find it difficult to take full advantage of the cloud.
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  • Use the right service for the right situation. Not everything belongs in customer-managed virtual machine. Cloud computing is made up of many “as-a-service” offerings, some of which take the management burden away from the customer. Consider services like database-as-a-service where a provider manages the database infrastructure and the customer doesn’t have to worry about provisioning, scaling, backing up, or patching servers. Or object storage services that let you store massive amounts of highly available data without worrying about setting up that infrastructure yourself. If you don’t need complete control over the infrastructure, look to other types of cloud services that take that work away.
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  • Apply security everywhere. Get ready to secure your data at rest and in transit. Get familiar with data encryption concepts and tools, and don’t simply rely on peripheral security to protect your servers and data.
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  • Get your hands dirty! Maybe the most important item in the list. Every senior architect and developer in your organization should have a (free) account set up for all the major cloud providers. Try things out. Fail quickly and safely. Figure out what works and what doesn’t. The cloud has made it amazingly simple to explore and experiment with technology and you should be actively encouraging your technical team to try it out.

 

#5 – Carefully assess which applications to migrate.

Not every application is fit for the cloud. Many applications in your data center weren’t built with the cloud in mind. They may be monolithic applications that aren’t naturally redundant and resistant to failure. They could use hard-coded configurations and IP addresses, and expect physical proximity for all components.  Simply moving these types of applications won’t grant magical performance or scalability improvements, and may actually result in a worse experience.

However, if you have cloud-friendly applications in your data center, you may realize value from moving them to a cloud environment. There are at least three techniques to follow.

     
  • First, you can lift-and-shift and simply take the application as is and move it to the cloud.
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  • Second, you can refactor the application and make small changes to make it friendlier to cloud environments.
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  • Finally, you could do an entire rebuild of the application to completely optimize it for the cloud. Odds are, the last option is not economically beneficial, and it’s better to leave the application where it is.

The best migration candidates include vanilla packaged applications like Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SharePoint, public-facing Internet websites, applications with bursty or unpredictable usage, applications/façade for mobile users, and custom service-oriented web applications. Consider leaving the following types of applications in your own data center: monolithic applications that can’t be easily broken apart, applications with extensive integrations with on-premises systems, heavy I/O applications or those optimized for specific hardware.

Conclusion

The cloud offers game-changing opportunities for organizations who take advantage of it. We’ve seen organizations both large and small take the plunge and realize the benefits. Interested in talking with us and getting some help on your cloud journey? Contact us today and we can help you avoid the pitfalls and get up and running quickly.

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

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 framework is then created, and the user is prompted for their Platform as a Service credentials. After providing a valid username and password, the application is deployed and Internet-accessible. All of this in matter of seconds! To update the application, developers visit the PaaS menu option and choose CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service.

Codenvy Cloud IDE

From the subsequent window, developers can modify the name, URL, and memory allocation of the application. Additionally, the application can be started, stopped, deleted, and updated. It’s also possible to add Platform as a Service application services – such as RabbitMQ for messaging or Microsoft SQL Server for relational database storage – to a project.

Codenvy Cloud IDE

Codenvy can also be used as a simple management interface for any applications running in Platform as a Service. This can come in handy if you’re on a shared machine without the typical Cloud Foundry management tools available!

Codenvy Cloud IDE

This interface shows you each application running in your Platform as a Service environment, and lets you start, stop, restart, or delete it.

Codenvy Cloud IDE

Summary

We’re excited to be a supported part of the innovative Codenvy platform and think that this lowers the barrier to entry for our customers while making it simpler for developers to build amazing applications in any language of their choice. Want to try it out? Sign up for a free Codenvy account and then take Platform as a Service for a spin!

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

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

Benefits of PaaS

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

     
  • Reduce server sprawl with a centralized host for web applications. How many web servers are sitting relatively idle in your data center because they are only running a handful of applications? Server sprawl can be a major issue as each IT project requisitions its own hardware for application development/staging/QA/production. What about all your websites for customers and marketing campaigns? It’s possible that you’re using many different servers (and even providers!) to host all of those individual websites. PaaS can offer a centralized fabric that can be sized and optimized for hundreds of internal or external web applications.
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  • Save money by adding resources only when you need them. Many PaaS products have a concept of automatic scale or user-driven resizing to account for spikes or dips in utilization. Before cloud computing, organizations typically sized their infrastructure for peaks and accepted that their environment would be underutilized the majority of the time. Now, it’s possible to deploy a web application with a 128MB memory allocation, and instantly double it when needed. Need to spread the workload across multiple machines? Simply issue a command to add the application to another node in the PaaS fabric. No calls to the operations team, no formal “deployment” exercises. PaaS makes it possible to size and scale applications on demand, which makes it easier for you to manage the overall environment.
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  • Focus on your application, and don’t sweat the infrastructure. One of the most important benefits of PaaS is that it abstracts the infrastructure away from the application, and the developer. Developers deploy to a fabric, not a server. There’s no need for the IT project team to provision web or database servers. Simply push applications to the existing PaaS environment. The infrastructure itself is managed closely by an operations team and automation is included at all levels to deliver automatic patching, scaling, monitoring and more.
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  • Multi-tenancy and high-availability baked in. PaaS products are designed to deliver high-availability to multiple applications (or “tenants”) and are therefore scaled out to provide significant compute capacity. As such, you’ll find many PaaS products with built-in load balancing services, failover when servers fail, concurrency management,  and more. All of these features boost reliability and performance for each application hosted in the PaaS. Even applications not specifically designed for PaaS can conceivably be deployed to a PaaS with little to no code refactoring.
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  • Avoid unnecessary duplication by using consolidated application services. When most people think of PaaS they think of hosting web applications, but some of the best capabilities are those offered by complimentary services.  Most PaaS products offer add-on services like databases, storage, identity management, messaging, caching and more. You’ll also find some PaaS products that offer business services such as service catalogs, and API management and monitoring. Developers can use these services when building their web applications and not have to provision or locate hardware to host those services at runtime. These services simply exist inside the PaaS and are available to all applications deployed there.
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  • Deliver “IT as a Service” through measured usage for easy chargebacks. A core tenet of cloud computing is “pay as you go” and measured usage. A true PaaS is built upon a “cloudy” foundation that tracks utilization and delivers an all-up cost to the user at the end of the month (or whenever the user checks their charges). Because of this cost transparency, it’s easy for organizations to deliver “IT as a service” by offering a PaaS for internal/external websites and passing along the usage-based invoices to each department.

All of this helps developers produce faster deployments while giving system administrators a more streamlined operations responsibility.

Why CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service?

CenturyLink Cloud has its own PaaS product – called Platform as a Service – that is based on Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry project. We’ve added the open-source Iron Foundry extensions so that we can offer some of the best language and framework support in the industry. Unlike the shared PaaS services offered by others, Platform as a Service is provisioned uniquely for each customer. This gives you the isolation you need, while still offering a robust platform for all the custom applications used by your organization. The default Platform as a Service environment consists of five total servers and can support dozens of web applications.

Platform as a Service Overview

Why might you choose to use the CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service to host your modern web applications? We like to point out at least five reasons:

     
  1. Support for the programming languages you already use. Most IT shops are heterogeneous and use technologies from multiple vendors. You may have written a number of enterprise-class web applications in .NET or Java, but also have departments that make use of Ruby or PHP. If you’re doing more mobile development, you might have started looking at Node.js for high performing web applications. CenturyLink Cloud’s Platform as a Service supports all those programming languages and more. Instead of using multiple PaaS products or infrastructure clouds to host your diverse application portfolio, use a single fabric for all of them!
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  3. Application services to cover your scenarios. Need a relational database? We offer MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Microsoft SQL Server. Looking for a NoSQL repository? Platform as a Service has Redis and MongoDB. RabbitMQ is also available when you want to add a durable message queue to your solution. In addition, each Platform as a Service comes with New Relic monitoring for web applications. This excellent application performance management tool gives you deep insight that helps identify bottlenecks and monitor application health.
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  5. Cloud Foundry ecosystem. There’s no doubting the impact of Cloud Foundry on the PaaS industry. This open source project was launched in 2010 and has been adopted by multiple PaaS vendors. Not only does this make it straightforward to move applications between Cloud Foundry-compliant clouds, but also means that there are multiple parties creating tools that work for any Cloud Foundry environment. From the Windows-based Cloud Foundry Explorer, to the OSX-friendly Project Thor, to web-based development environments, there’s a growing ecosystem of vendors and tools to help you be successful with Cloud Foundry.
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  7. Enterprise-class infrastructure. CenturyLink Cloud’s network of highly resilient, globally distributed infrastructure is optimized for performance throughout the stack. And since Platform as a Service runs on the CenturyLink Cloud enterprise cloud, your applications will be powered by high performing storage, multiple VPN options, security services, and much more.
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  9. IaaS and PaaS, better together. Not all workloads fit into a PaaS platform, and not all applications require dedicated infrastructure. By offering our customers enterprise-class infrastructure in addition to Platform as a Service, we’ve provided two useful hosting mechanisms in the same cloud. Keep your PaaS applications geographically close to your IaaS applications and data, and share the same management tools, security profile, and networking configuration.

Deploying to Platform as a Service from a Cloud-based Development Environment

Developers can push their application to Platform as a Service in a number of ways. While most developers are familiar with command line interfaces and GUI tools that run on their desktop, a new crop of cloud-based integrated development environments (IDEs) can make PaaS deployments even simpler. Cloud IDEs offer excellent collaboration capabilities, easy accessibility, and “no-touch” setup.

One such cloud IDE is Codenvy. This tool works natively with Cloud Foundry, making it easy to build Java/Ruby/Python/PHP applications and then push them to Platform as a Service. After signing up for a free account, the developer is presented with the option to link to GitHub or any Git repository.

Codenvy IDE

Codenvy uses a handy “new project” wizard experience to help the developer choose which programming language to use, and then which (supported) PaaS to push to. In the short animation below, observe how I created a new Java Spring project, chose Cloud Foundry (Platform as a Service) as a destination, finish the wizard and publish the application to Platform as a Service.

Creating an application in Codenvy

The Codenvy IDE includes many developer productivity features including type-ahead coding (i.e. “intellisense”), code generation, formatting tools, and much more. Changing the application code and re-publishing the application to Platform as a Service is simple. Notice how easy it is to resize my application (e.g. memory, instance count) at any time!

Updating an application in Codenvy and publishing to Platform as a Service

Besides simply deploying applications, Codenvy supports simple management of existing applications. From the PaaS –> Cloud Foundry –> Applications menu, I can see all the applications that I’ve deployed to Platform as a Service and stop/start/restart/delete any of them.

Managing Platform as a Service in Codenvy

Developers using cloud-based IDEs don’t get all the features of desktop IDEs (like access to local resources, plug-ins), but they are an increasingly viable choice for developers who are trying new technologies or need access to their IDE from any computer.

Summary

With our enterprise-class infrastructure and platform cloud, CenturyLink Cloud is uniquely positioned to address your cloud needs. Platform as a Service is an ideal host for your modern web applications and its Cloud Foundry heritage makes it compatible with a wide array of tools including cloud-based IDEs like Codenvy.

Interested in taking a look at Platform as a Service? Contact us for a demonstration and free trial!

CenturyLink Cloud Expands Enterprise Cloud Platform with Multi-Framework Platform as

New Platform and Database Services Join CenturyLink Cloud Enterprise Infrastructure Service, Setting New Bar for Comprehensive Cloud Platforms

BELLEVUE, Wash. — May 8, 2012 ― CenturyLink Cloud, Inc., the enterprise cloud platform company, today announced the next release of the CenturyLink Cloud Enterprise Cloud Platform, now with the industry’s most comprehensive set of enterprise-grade cloud services in a single consolidated platform. The CenturyLink Cloud cloud now features Platform as a Service, a multi-framework enterprise platform as a service (PaaS) and Data Fabric, a high availability database as a service (DbaaS).  These services join the company’s existing enterprise-grade infrastructure services for a powerful, first-of-a-kind combination that enables businesses to accelerate “greenfield” application development and deliver critical legacy business systems in one cloud platform.

Businesses around the world today rely on CenturyLink Cloud’s Enterprise Cloud – a VMware vCloud® Powered Service -  to run their back office and line of business applications in a secure virtual private cloud, counting on the platform’s availability, security, performance and built-in disaster recovery capabilities. Now with CenturyLink Cloud’s multi-language (“polyglot”) Platform as a Service, businesses gain the application development and deployment agility of cloud-based on-demand runtime environments, enabling developers to focus on business innovation without sacrificing stringent enterprise security requirements.  CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service also gives customers the ability to:

  • Leverage Cloud Foundry and Iron Foundry to support the broadest set of languages and frameworks (including .NET, Java, Node.js, Ruby, PHP, and Python) while ensuring interoperability across clouds. 
  • Directly deploy and scale any web application while automatically tapping into enterprise-grade capabilities such as high availability, disaster recovery as well as advanced application monitoring from New Relic.
  • Deploy Platform as a Service in a secure environment ensuring no risk of “shared” access from other customers and enabling it to run side-by-side with CenturyLink Cloud’s infrastructure services (IaaS) in private VLANs to better support direct integration with business applications and systems.

“The needs of the enterprises are diverse as they expect not only superior performance and reliability but also enterprise-grade security. While commodity clouds are well suited for greenfield applications, they are not ready to meet the enterprise demands with mixed environments,” said Krishnan Subramanian, principal analyst, Rishidot Research. “With a multi-pronged approach to infrastructure, platform and data, CenturyLink Cloud can enable enterprises to take advantage of the cloud without any disruption to their existing processes. In this context, this announcement is a significant as it represents a step forward in cloud services designed specifically to meet the needs of modern enterprises.”

To further enhance IT agility, CenturyLink Cloud is also introducing the first in a series of fabric services, the CenturyLink Cloud Data Fabric. Delivering enterprise-grade database services (DbaaS), Data Fabric can be called by CenturyLink Cloud virtual machines or Platform as a Service or even external applications, and works with a broad set of databases including Redis, MongoDB, Microsoft SQL Server, My SQL, and VMware vFabric™ Postgres.   Data Fabric features a high availability mode, auto-scaling, and high performance with automated built-in backups to help reduce the burden of operational task management.  CenturyLink Cloud will release other fabric services such as messaging, queuing, and caching throughout 2012.

“We are seeing a fundamental shift in the industry to multi-service clouds systems.   Enterprise IT departments are rapidly adopting enterprise-class hybrid cloud platforms for business-critical legacy applications, but true PaaS adoption has been stalled due to stringent requirements for security without sacrificing HA, performance and scale and management complexity,” said Jared Wray, CenturyLink Cloud founder chief technology officer. “The CenturyLink Cloud Enterprise Cloud Platform with Platform as a Service and Data Fabric is game changing for mid-size to large enterprises.  They can now leverage the flexibility of a complete set of enterprise-grade public cloud services together in the same service and from behind the corporate firewall—standard virtual machine capabilities for enhanced agility and a services fabric to streamline the rapid development of new features.”  

“The CenturyLink Cloud Enterprise Cloud Platform’s new capabilities of Platform as a Service, based on VMware vCloud®, Cloud Foundry™, and Data Fabric can provide robust and flexible cloud services to a wide range of enterprises,” said Jerry Chen, vice president, Cloud and Application Services, VMware. “By using CenturyLink Cloud’s Enterprise Cloud Platform, underpinned by VMware’s cloud infrastructure, organizations can realize the benefits and value of multi-cloud services.”

Availability

CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service is generally available May 8 and Data Fabric is in beta until June 1.  CenturyLink Cloud is demonstrating its Enterprise Cloud Platform including Platform as a Service and Data Fabric May 8-10 at Interop Vegas booth 615.

Resources

Supporting Quotes

  • “Users of cloud systems-infrastructure services (IaaS) are increasingly looking for more “cloudiness” in their services and turn to cloud application-infrastructure services (PaaS) for automated application elasticity, multi-tenancy and higher-function self-service,” commented Yefim Natis, VP Distinguished Analyst at Gartner, Inc. “To meet this requirement many IaaS providers add middleware capability to their offering (IaaS+) and some develop a native PaaS offering.  Both approaches will find some demand in the market in the short term, though the native PaaS will emerge as the definitive cloud platform service in the long term.”
  • Infrastructure services ease the transition from legacy client-server computing, while cloud platform services like CenturyLink Cloud’s Web and Data Fabrics are the natural evolution of cloud computing, freeing developers to concentrate on the applications rather than the supporting infrastructure,” said Chris Sharp, general manager, cloud and content for Equinix. “Platform Equinix offers customers a rich environment to build and integrate private, public, and hybrid cloud solutions. Customers now have access to CenturyLink Cloud’s infrastructure and platform services via dedicated private connections from Equinix data centers and over the Internet via multiple carriers.”
  • “The CenturyLink Cloud Platform as a Service with Iron Foundry offers a unique value to organizations by providing unparalleled choice in development frameworks,” said Richard Seroter, InfoQ editor and Microsoft MVP. “Enterprises can now leverage one of the best possible platform-as-a-service frameworks while taking advantage of CenturyLink Cloud’s top notch infrastructure offering.” 
  • “As enterprises rapidly embrace cloud services, they want to ensure their cloud-based apps are delivering the highest standard of performance and availability,” says Bill Lapcevic, Vice President of Business Development, New Relic. “ With our application monitoring as a standard feature in Platform as a Service, together CenturyLink Cloud and New Relic are providing our customers with the best tools for identifying and resolving potential performance issues in their business-critical applications.”      

About CenturyLink Cloud

CenturyLink Cloud delivers enterprise-class cloud services to businesses globally via its federated Enterprise Cloud Platform.  The Bellevue, WA-based company provides a comprehensive set of enterprise-grade virtual private cloud services enhanced by a framework-agnostic cloud orchestration and automation to enable IT agility. Architected for security, performance and high availability ― with 99.999% SLA at all layers and disaster recovery in every deployment — the CenturyLink Cloud Cloud is ideal for the entire business application portfolio from development to production environments and mission-critical applications.

VMware, VMware vFabric and Cloud Foundry are registered trademarks and/or trademarks of VMware, Inc. in the United States and/or other jurisdictions. The use of the word “partner” or “partnership” does not imply a legal partnership relationship between VMware and any other company.