Cloud Services

CenturyLink Adds Bare Metal to Its Cloud

CenturyLink today unveiled major new upgrades to its cloud platform, including on-demand access to bare metal servers and integration of AppFog's multi-tenant Cloud Foundry into the broader platform. Those new capabilities join CenturyLink Cloud's public and private clouds in a single user interface, a control portal designed to simplify the operation of enterprise IT architecture even as the range of applications and the diversity of infrastructure gets more complex.

All of the above and more, including smartphone management of the cloud platform, were announced today via the CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) Cloud blog here and its release notes here.

CenturyLink's Integrated Cloud Platform

As Richard Seroter, director of product management for CenturyLink Cloud, explains in his blog, businesses today have many more options for creating and powering their applications, storing and analyzing data and making their systems more flexible and resilient. But IT departments can easily be overwhelmed by the complexity of managing distributed infrastructure that mixes physical and virtual elements. With so many choices, it becomes harder to match the appropriate type of infrastructure to each component of an application or services, he notes.

See the latest happenings as telecom business services migrate to the cloud in our cloud services section here on Light Reading.

CenturyLink is working to simplify that process and automate it as well, so enterprises can move more of what they do to the cloud, says Jared Ruckle, product manager in the cloud organization, who penned his own blog on the topic. Key to that process is adding physical servers to the automated, on-demand world for those processes that can't be virtualized and put in the multi-tenant world.

"We wanted to offer them a long-term migration path that lets them go to the virtual machine world where it makes sense, but also offers something like bare metal and physical services with the same consistent performance, but now with on-demand access, with self-service, with programmatic capabilities," he says. "That opens up more workloads that can go off-premises, and customers can now focus on more services rather than managing the infrastructure."

Choosing the Right Cloud Service

This is also part of CenturyLink's overall strategy of "cloudifying" its infrastructure. Adding on-demand physical servers to the mix was a "fun challenge" for CenturyLink's software engineers, Ruckle notes, but also part of a serious strategy to determine how to expand the company's data center capacity in general as part of the cloud strategy. "I think for us, it was part of building a platform that is an essential part of our mission and charter to give CenturyLink's portfolio a cloud-style makeover," he says. (See New CenturyLink CTO in Major Overhaul.)

This is the first time AppFog's Cloud Foundry has been integrated "as a first class citizen" into CenturyLink Cloud's integrated management interface, Ruckle notes. CenturyLink actually acquired AppFog just ahead of Tier 3, the company which became the core of its cloud operation. (See CenturyLink Shows Cloud Is Still Critical.)

The four core capabilities -- public cloud, private cloud, bare metal-as-a-service and AppFog -- can all be managed from a single interface, using a unified permissions and security model and providing a single detailed usage summary, he notes. Turning services up and down is an automated self-service process, done on-demand through the user interface or CenturyLink's API.

That makes it easier for IT departments to manage cloud usage and enable more developers to use the capabilities, because the usage can be more easily managed and expenses can be easily tracked by line of business, Ruckle notes.

New iOS and Android applications will allow IT managers and others that they designate track and manage cloud resources from a smartphone for the first time, using a subset of features available on the interface. "This is the first time we've enabled something like this and we want to see how our customers use it," he says.

On top of those capabilities, CenturyLink continues to roll out other functionality in its software releases, issued roughly every 21 days. In the July 15 release, it delivered:

  • WordPress-as-a-Service, the beta release of the hosted application;
  • Developer SDKs for .NET and Java to allow easier use of cloud APIs using development kits for popular languages; and
  • Patching-as-a-service for Linux, to enable free automatic patching for Linux machines.
  • Updates to Orchestrate.IO, another acquisition, integrating it with AppFog and enhancing other features. (See CenturyLink Buys Into Database Simplification.)

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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