It’s That Time of Year Again: The 2015 Gartner Cloud Magic Quadrant

May 18, 2015
By Jared Ruckle

The annual publication of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide1 is a report card of sorts for each vendor, handed out based on the reams of data Gartner collects from countless interviews and quantitative analysis.

As we look in the rear-view mirror and evaluate our own performance over the last 12 months, two major themes stand out:

Successful ‘table stakes’ execution

To gain a significant chunk of the cloud market in the years to come, a provider must consistently:

Deliver operational excellence – meet and exceed SLAs for customers, including some of the world’s largest brands.

Rapidly develop new capabilities – we launched new services and features month after month. Further, the DevOps mindset is woven into our organizational philosophy and structure, so CenturyLink can continue to release early and often.

Compete on price, specifically hourly compute – there’s far more to cloud costs than just the sticker price shown on websites. But the top vendors have demonstrated scale and efficiency with regular price drops. CenturyLink Cloud’s sticker prices – and bundled add-ons – make for a compelling and differentiated value prop.

We believe CenturyLink passed these 3 tests, as did the others who faired well in the 2015 edition of the...

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Centerity’s IT Monitoring Suite Adds Value That Is Hard to Ignore

May 15, 2015
Lia Gurin, Centerity Product Management

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 Lia Gurin from Centerity, IT infrastructure monitoring and software management.

For many IT departments, system monitoring is a painful problem. Many times a specialized team is put in charge of monitoring consoles which display threshold alerts and exceptions against various thresholds. This stream of notification traffic provides IT teams with tons of data that immediately turns into a classification and organization problem. Actionable information that adds value to situational awareness is still hard to come by. The fact remains that many IT monitoring consoles, provide myriad alerts about IT components (e.g., physical, passive, virtual, cloud, application, end-user experience) yet offer no systemic clarity or relevance for 99% of monitoring use cases.

As a direct result, most IT teams look at the monitoring console as an exercise in figuring out what they should ignore.

The only practical solution for this unproductive situation is to use Business Service Management (“BSM”) views of key business processes. Only by mapping an enterprise’s important business services into process views...

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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...

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CenturyLink Cloud May Release: A Potpourri of Delight

May 8, 2015
By Jared Ruckle

Regular readers of our release notes know we now detail enhancements across a broad range of services, beyond what’s included in our flagship public cloud services.

This shift has a practical benefit to customers, since the vast majority of what we build is available via self-service and on-demand. Online documentation is crucial to enabling our customers with these new capabilities.

Here are a few highlights of our May release, grouped by product “theme” for context.

New Services for Developers

Most businesses that have thrived the past decade have one thing in common – great software. (Cue the "software is eating the world" narrative.)

If you’re operating in the retail, consumer goods, or transportation sector, how do you consistently build and deliver great software to users? You use the cloud, and you use new, innovative services that make life easier for developers. Two such examples are front-and-center in the May release:

Orchestrate.io – API-driven database-as-a-service, recently acquired by CenturyLink. The service is now accessible in four CenturyLink Cloud nodes, and can be integrated in with other cloud deployments. AppFog Limited Beta – this new service is based on Cloud Foundry v2, offering massive productivity benefits for developers. It’s now available as a Limited Beta – to sign-up, visit...

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CenturyLink Building Platform Momentum with Cloud Foundry

May 7, 2015
By Wendy White

While getting ready for Cloud Foundry Summit, I sat down with our resident AppFog product owner, Chris Sterling, and CenturyLink Cloud ecosystem head, David Shacochis, to discuss their respective efforts within the Cloud Foundry landscape and what they’re looking forward to at the upcoming event.

Q: With Cloud Foundry Summit right around the corner, what momentum do you see for the broader Cloud Foundry ecosystem?

Shacochis: Chris sent around this link the other day of Sam Ramji’s interview with Alex Williams on the Cloud Foundry ecosystem – it’s very consistent with the momentum we’re seeing around Cloud Foundry here at CenturyLink.

Sterling: Absolutely, and for anyone who hasn’t heard that podcast, it’s almost required listening if you want to better appreciate the past and future of Cloud Foundry.

Q: What stood out to you in that interview?

Shacochis: The important piece to me is the power an open-source ecosystem holds when it’s well-managed and incorporates diverse perspectives toward a shared goal. Ramji covers how many large organizations are part of the Cloud Foundry Foundation and driving innovations from their particular part of the industry into the code base. It made me think of all the work CenturyLink has been doing with the Foundation to...

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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...

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CenturyLink Acquires Orchestrate to Deliver Next Generation Data Services to Cloud

April 20, 2015
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management

One of the most important trends in cloud development is the emergence of the “12-factor app” style where complex systems are deconstructed into simple, scalable apps and services. An extension of this trend is the innovation and evolution we see in the database space.

Key/value stores, caching services, and all manner of NoSQL database capabilities have, in no small part, led to the explosion of innovation we commonly refer to as the “Internet of Things.” Applications and systems are collecting, storing and analyzing more data than ever, and developers increasingly embrace NoSQL options as their data store.

However, there are so many types of NoSQL databases that developers need to keep track of, and it seems like a new one emerges every day. There are dozens of database packages in the market that didn’t even exist five years ago. Each one has important tradeoffs. Is it easy to use? How does it scale? What does it take to get resilience? Developers are faced with the choice of either weaving together multiple technologies in order to get the backend services they need, or settling on a single-purpose platform that meets SOME of their requirements. There's got to be a better way, right? Orchestrate tackled...

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Important Update to CenturyLink Cloud Ticket Prioritization

April 17, 2015
By Richard Seroter, Director of Product Management

Effective immediately, a new ticket prioritization process is in place for incidents submitted to CenturyLink Cloud’s support team.

What is changing?

Our prioritization structure has simplified, to better reflect the type of incidents we receive from customers. In addition, the new structure reflects the different support tiers introduced several months ago.

What does this change mean for me?

This change is a minor modification to our internal incident handing process. The material impact to you is simplification of your support experience.

Why is this change taking place?

This change was implemented based on data received on submitted incidents, resolution times, customer feedback, and overall industry trends.

What is not changing?

Our SLAs and commitment to delivering a world-class customer experience.

Where can I get more information about this change?

This knowledge base article details the new changes: https://www.centurylinkcloud.com/knowledge-base/support/ticket-prioritization-matrix/

In addition, the process to request a ticket escalation remains unchanged: https://www.centurylinkcloud.com/knowledge-base/support/how-do-i-escalate-a-ticket/

Please reach out to [email protected] if you have any questions.

...

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Ecosystem Showcase: Orchestrate Brings Database Heroics to the CenturyLink Cloud Ecosystem

April 9, 2015
By Jennifer Lankford

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 Jennifer Lankford from Orchestrate, a provider of NoSQL database services focused on developer agility.

As interest from enterprise customers began to increase in late 2014, we decided to run some benchmarks on CenturyLink Cloud and take it through its paces. The results pleasantly surprised us and should make the users of competing cloud providers take notice. Not only did CenturyLink Cloud perform consistently better than the biggest providers on all fronts, its pricing is highly competitive, and it boasts a web-based GUI that makes the user experience a breeze. So today, we’re very excited to share that Orchestrate is now available on CenturyLink Cloud, and can be deployed today through the ecosystem.

This is great news because it gives CenturyLink’s global network of Fortune 1000 companies immediate access to the flexibility and cost-savings associated with Orchestrate. The partnership makes perfect sense for both companies and especially their customers — CenturyLink and Orchestrate share a common vision for simplifying the deployment of applications to...

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Dynatrace Free Trial Utilizing CenturyLink Cloud Blueprint Now Available

April 8, 2015
Kim Bannerman, Matthew Keenan, Michael Masterson

In February 2015 Dynatrace, a leading player in the field of Application Performance Management (APM), launched integration with the CenturyLink cloud platform. Dynatrace APM is laser focused on the details that matter for application performance, starting with 100% visibility into of the End-User transactions and spanning both Pre-Production and Production environments. Dynatrace provides integration with automation frameworks like the CenturyLink Cloud blueprints, Ansible, Chef, and Puppet, as well as many ticketing and notification systems. As cloud adoption increases across SME and Enterprise organizations, teams must fundamentally rethink the way they monitor scaling applications and dynamic infrastructure.

Some of the most common use cases for APM in the Cloud include

Dev/Test - Development and Test teams are moving faster than ever to support business needs, even shipping code releases multiple times per day. Reduce risk by measuring and comparing performance in every build and test in conjunction with real browser synthetics from around the world Cloud Benchmarking - Baselining how applications perform in the cloud vs. their native compute habitat provides organizations with quantitative metrics to make the optimal infrastructure decision the first time, instead of iteratively guessing and testing Dev/Ops - Managing the performance of applications in a cloud environment requires the ability to...

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CenturyLink Cloud Celebrates Pi Day with Pi Day Kids Hack Event

April 6, 2015
Kimberly Bannerman, Director Cloud Evangelism Programs

Saturday, March 14, 2015 was one of the most epic version of “Pi Day” that most of us will see during our lifetimes. As everyone knows, when stretched to 31 decimal places pi is represented in decimal notation as 3.1415926535897932384626433832795 (whew!). When truncated, 3.14.15 gives us a few additional significant digits — enough to make any math enthusiast completely irrational!

To celebrate, CenturyLink Cloud organized an afternoon for young people in our technology community — helping them learn to “hack” on miniature Raspberry Pi units and learning software development practices with Seattle CoderDojo. The event was an idea that CenturyLink Cloud’s CTO, Jared Wray had been considering for over a year. Jared has 3 boys, and they have built projects using the Raspberry Pi units at home. Once the CenturyLink Cloud Development Center opened in Bellevue, WA, the event had a home.

"These days, I often find myself looking back to my childhood and using a computer for the first time. I remember placing my hands on that keyboard and thinking of all the things that I could do and create — like wielding a magical sword. Coding is more than just telling computers what to do for kids, it is showing...

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying About My On-Prem Data Center and Love the Cloud: The Data Center Transformation Playbook

March 25, 2015
By Jared Ruckle, Product Manager

I was chatting with a CIO the other day about his goals and vision for the organization. Highlights: supporting 2x revenue growth over the next several years. Delivering a differentiated customer experience. Mobile apps. Empowering his teams in the field.

Pretty good list, right?

We went on to discuss how cloud services could help his company achieve all of the above. But there was another pressing project on his mind: retiring his on-premises data center, in favor of the public cloud. Why was this “data center transformation” project a high priority for him?

Risk due to location. Office buildings, no matter how secure, can’t compare to the facilities offered by most data center providers. Environmental factors come in to play as well – the threat of natural disasters and even shoddy HVAC systems keep execs up at night. Inordinate amounts of human time and effort. Administering servers, running procurement, fiddling with cabling, monitoring power and cooling - it's time consuming. And there’s just no upside to it. Best case? Your team keeps things running on par with what an outsourced provider can deliver…only without the price drops and new features. Think of all the other things these folks could...

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