Tier 3 has joined CenturyLink. We are going to build amazing things together.
But let’s look back before we look ahead.
Many people contributed to the success of Tier 3. Developers launched feature after feature, while network engineers supported customers day and night. A passion for problem solving fueled their achievements. A tireless team of marketing, sales, and finance pros helped along the way as well – building our thought leadership campaigns, winning new business, and keeping our back office humming.
I’d like to thank these talented individuals. This is the team that built APIs, designed the UX, rolled out new self-service functions, and helped our customers grow. We’ve worked with lots of great partners too. Together, we advanced cloud computing.
Cloud is really, really hard. Just read the headlines – enterprises and traditional IT vendors are struggling.
We started Tier 3 to make cloud easier. We created products, processes, and a culture to help enable cloud for the enterprise.
And cloud is a littler easier now, thanks to Tier 3’s ecosystem of people and partners.
This deal would not be possible without Tier 3’s customers. Their support, their decision to trust a smaller company for their cloud needs, and their feedback on how we could improve our service – all played a part in this coming together.
Very little will change for our customers. Here are 3 things our customers should understand:
- There are minimal changes to the cloud services you use today. Our compute, storage, and networking services are unchanged. If you have customized the portal interface, this color scheme will persist. If you have the default Tier 3 theme, you’ll see an updated experience with the CenturyLink logo and color palette.
- No change to SLAs. Our commitment to uptime and availability remains high, as it always has.
- No change to the people and processes you have come to depend on. We plan to retain our team of network engineers, developers, and support team as we transition to a new phase of growth.
One thing will be changing, however. We will have more resources to accelerate cloud innovation and adoption.
That’s a good thing, because there’s more work to be done. The industry needs to abstract more complexity away from users. CenturyLink is committed to building an amazing platform that does just that.
Early next year, we’ll open the new CenturyLink Cloud Development Center in the greater Seattle area. This facility will foster an innovative environment where the best and brightest come together to move the industry forward.
We know this collaborative approach is the right one, because of our history at Tier 3. Our team pioneered new technologies, embraced open source with Iron Foundry and other projects, and established a unique “build for cloud scale” development culture.
This commitment to open source and “cloud scale” culture are the defining parts of Tier 3 for me. And both components are central to our future as a part of CenturyLink.
The new CenturyLink Cloud team will apply these philosophies to solve a wide range of challenges – both external, for customers, and internal, for employees and partners.
We want to make cloud dramatically easier for everyone. Not just for IT, or developers that “get” cloud. But for technical staff unfamiliar or wary of cloud, and for business users.
We’ll solve this with five ideas in mind:
- The enterprise cloud market is evolving to be more than infrastructure. The cost of infrastructure will continue to drop. However, the human cost remains – transforming this dimension is where the industry needs to focus. That means self-service cloud products combined with managed services, global data center footprints, high-performance networks, and fiber.
- Platforms of the future need to do more than resource aggregation. Self-service infrastructure that’s elastic and cheap is the first wave of cloud. But the next wave goes far beyond that. We are nearing the tipping point, with market adoption of projects like Cloud Foundry. Will the majority of cloud users even interact with servers in the future? I don’t think they will.
- Startup Agility + Corporate Backing = Rapid roadmap acceleration. At first, I was a little skeptical when talking to CenturyLink. What would they know about self-service cloud? How could they attract highly skilled engineers? After going through this process, though, I will say CenturyLink gets it. They love the Cloud Development Center idea, and are looking for this new team to help lead their business into the future. That means more resources to drive their cloud business forward, with new products and services.
- Any workload, any time, anywhere. Platforms that control and manipulate virtual resources should be able to optimize workloads wherever they are. Not just on CenturyLink Cloud infrastructure, but on other systems as well. We’ll continue to build flexibility and adaptability into our software, so we can support other ecosystems like OpenStack.
- Open Source FTW. We deeply believe in open source. We depend on open source code to run our global cloud, and we contribute back with projects like Iron Foundry. Open source will continue to have an instrumental role in IT, and we want to be a part of it.
The journey has been incredible so far, but we’re just getting started.
In part one, we highlighted Tier 3’s strong showing in a recent performance benchmarking survey.
So what to make of reports like this? Here are 6 observations that might help you, a buyer of cloud services, interpret findings like this.
It’s difficult for businesses to compare so many diverse players in the cloud. To make the task a bit easier, the team at Cloud Spectator recently issued a useful report: “IaaS Performance and Value Analysis.” View it here, registration required to download.
At CenturyLink Cloud, we’ve always claimed to be a “high performance” cloud (who doesn’t?), so it is nice to see this validated by a third party. A summary of findings that brought a smile to our faces:
- #1 “Performance Leader” for overall system results
- #1 performance leader for Disk and RAM
- #2 performance leader for CPU and internal networking
My personal favorite passage:
UnixBench highlights the significant system performance difference among the top providers in the IaaS industry. The highest and lowest scorers show a difference of 4.7x in system performance; CenturyLink Cloud’s average UnixBench score is 2998, while Amazon EC2’s is 642.
“Getting a little bit of the right information just ahead of when it’s needed is a lot more valuable than all the information in the world a month or a day later.” That quote – found in the book The Two Second Advantage by Vivek Ranadive and Kevin Maney – highlights a new reality where responsiveness can be a competitive advantage. Smart companies are building a responsive IT infrastructure where data isn’t just hoarded in massive repositories, but analyzed quickly and acted upon. How can you know more, faster and have better situational awareness?
With an increasing amount of critical IT systems running in the cloud, there’s a need to know what’s happening and act on it. This month, CenturyLink Cloud introduced Webhooks, making us among the first public IaaS cloud providers to send real-time notifications to a web service endpoint. For this initial release, customers can set up Webhooks for events within accounts, users, and servers.
When To Use This?
Webhooks are relatively new idea, although already used by diverse web properties like Wordpress and Zoho. Let’s look at three different scenarios where CenturyLink Cloud Webhooks can lead to better decisions.
Scenario #1 – Data Synchronization
Polling is an inefficient way to retrieve data from an external system, but it remains a popular choice. When you poll a system for changes, you’re effectively asking “do you have anything new for me?” Many times, the answer is “no.” With push-based notifications, the only time you are contacted is when something relevant happens. For example, some customers synchronize CenturyLink Cloud data with their internal support or configuration management systems. They do this for auditing purposes, or to give support staff an accurate picture of cloud deployments. The issue? Staying in sync requires an aggressive polling frequency that needless encumbers systems. Webhooks provide a better alternative.
In the scenario visualized below, as soon as a new server is created in the CenturyLink Cloud cloud, an event fires and a message is sent to an endpoint specified by the customer. That listener service then updates the appropriate internal system. Within seconds, systems are completely synchronized!
Scenario #2 – Anomaly Detection
People love the cloud because of the self-service capabilities and freedom to instantly create and delete servers at will. One downside of this freedom – for service providers anyway – is fraudulent signups. CenturyLink Cloud resellers actively monitor new accounts, but the sheer volume of manual analysis can be daunting. What if resellers could programmatically monitor specific sequences of events and then use that data to flag an account as “suspect” and deserving of special attention? Again, we turn to Webhooks to help react faster.
It’s great that developers can quickly bring gobs of new cloud machines online. But rapid provisioning can occur within the wrong sub-account or under unusual circumstances. In both of these examples, consider using a complex event processing solution that monitors streams of Webhook events and detects aggregate patterns that reveal more than any single event can.
Scenario #3 – Compliance Monitoring
Cloud and governance don’t have to be at odds with each other – and in fact, these two ideas go hand-and-hand when it comes to IT as a service. CenturyLink Cloud already provides customers with many ways to do this today through sophisticated account management capabilities. But we often get customers requesting a “corner case” scenario – like preventing a certain user from being added to an account, or making sure that database servers aren’t given a public IP address. Webhooks are a way for us to programmatically empower customers to support unique scenarios, in self-service fashion. Via Webhooks, users compare events to previous ones using a data repository. This way, customers can immediately find out if a server was changed inappropriately, a user was added to an account, or the contact information was changed. If an out-of-compliance change is made, the customer can respond almost instantly!
It’s very simple to configure Webhooks in the CenturyLink Cloud cloud. Simply visit the API section of the Control Portal and choose Webhooks. Here, users can browse the list of available Webhooks, then specify the “target” URL to receive a JSON-encoded message. Each Webhook is configured with an HTTPS URL, and includes an optional capability to send events that occur within sub-accounts.
For more details on how to create a Webhook listener service, take a look at our Webhook FAQ article in the Knowledge Base. This is an innovative and exciting capability for the platform and we can’t wait to see how customers use it to create more responsive systems and processes!
I went to my first Gartner Symposium last week for a big picture view of the intersection between business and IT. Symposium is billed as “the one show to go to if you only go to one show a year.” As such, my expectations were high. It did not disappoint.
Keynote speakers, most notably Peter Sondergaard, in full prophet mode, discussed the disruptive nature of new cloud architectures, the Internet of Things, and 3D printing. These trends, combined with other socioeconomic factors, would bring about the “Digital Industrial Economy.”
He then offered this choice to today’s IT executive: either enable your enterprise to thrive in the Digital Industrial Economy, or be relegated to caretaker of legacy systems while other roles lead the transformation.
The unease in the audience was palpable. Squirming continued as he discussed a simple graphic on-screen: 90% of CIOs believe they are doing a good job, while 50% of CEOs say they need more from IT. The keynotes set the tone for the rest of the conference. Clearly, Gartner is advising clients to do more, and think bigger.
Our first analyst meeting the next day reinforced this. The Gartner research team focused on “Web-Scale IT” mentioned that many clients are asking how Google, Facebook, and Amazon “do what they do” with respect to globally distributed systems and rapid updates.
The big cloud companies, however, are not going to reveal their secret sauce for public consumption. Gartner has set out to provide practical guidance on the topic, under the moniker: “Web-Scale IT.”
At CenturyLink Cloud, we harbor no such secrecy; our model is different. With an ecosystem of go-to-market partners, disclosing “how we do what we do” is a selling point of our company and instrumental in why we have grown as fast as we have.
Under the backdrop of new pressures for IT, we thought it would be helpful to share a quick case study on how our engineering team has been able to accomplish so much in the last year.