The shift to cloud services is, in part, about empowering business users to manage more of their own IT needs themselves. To wit, traditional infrastructure service providers are rapidly introducing self-service, elastic capabilities to meet market demand. Enterprises can deliver on their “IT-as-a-Service” roadmap with a branded cloud administrative portal – complete with rapid provisioning – that matches corporate guidelines.
Solving this scenario has been a roadmap priority for Tier 3. So we are pleased to announce new functionality today that helps resellers, ISVs, and enterprise IT shops deliver a personalized version of our cloud. Leading infrastructure provider like PEER 1 have found success with our model, and so can you.
How do we deliver a personalized cloud? Five key ways: user interface rebranding, content settings, email templates, single-sign-on support, and API access. Let’s briefly look at each of these.
User interface rebranding
Easily alter the visual appearance of the Control Portal, our web-based cloud management interface. This is the easiest – although most superficial – way to rebrand our cloud as your own. We provide two collections of settings for changing the look and feel of the admin console. The Site Branding settings let you define (1) the name of the site, and (2) the graphic logo associated with your brand.
Changing the site name and corresponding logo is straightforward, and you can revert to the default settings at any time.
Another way to customize the appearance of the Tier 3 Control Portal is to change the color palette used throughout the site. On the Color Scheme page, we offer a handful of default themes and let you define your own, to match corporate branding guidelines, for example.
The page shows a preview of the selected color scheme in real-time, so you can easily fine-tune colors to your requirements.
These changes – while cosmetic in nature – help adoption and increase engagement.
Enabling configurable settings is another big enhancement we introduced today. Now, many previously hard-coded settings can be adjusted in the UI.
First up, we give users the choice of showing or hiding the page footer. This flexibility is especially helpful for those embedding the Tier 3 Control Portal within a frame. Links within the footer can also be personalized.
This combination of settings makes it possible to specify where users can go for the most important support functions. Simply contact the Tier 3 NOC to activate these settings for your account.
A cloud infrastructure platform must make heavy use of automation and asynchronous processing. As a result, we send many different types of notifications to customers when certain tasks have completed or events have occurred. We’ve updated our software to enable customization of the 10 different email messages that are sent out from the Tier 3 platform.
Each of these templates supports a unique “from” email address, subject line, and message body. Many of the templates also support tokenized values in the message body so that you can provide specific data points in the email.
These templates help our customers craft specific messages in response to platform events and ensure a consistent voice in communication to customers.
Single sign on (SSO) support
Integration with an existing identity management system is often crucial for resellers and enterprises. So instead of forcing users to create yet another set of credentials, Tier 3 wants to make it easy for your users to simply access these functions with their same credentials.
Tier 3 supports the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) v2 standard, a protocol widely used to create SSO solutions. Using SAML, your identity management system (e.g. Windows Active Directory) generates a valid SAML token that is passed to Tier 3. We then validate that token and log the user into their Control Portal account. We’ve created a comprehensive Knowledge Base article (Using SAML for Single-Sign-On to the Tier 3 Control Portal) that demonstrates a complete walkthrough of creating a new Identity Provider and hooking it up to the Tier 3 platform.
There are plenty of cases where our customers want to interact with the Tier 3 cloud from within their own applications and portals. Thanks to our comprehensive API, it’s possible to do nearly everything in our cloud via a web service interface. Our API covers a number of critical feature areas:
- Servers. Create, configure and delete servers. Also reboot them, create snapshots, restore snapshots, and much more.
- Groups. Create and delete Groups of servers. Power off the servers in the group, put all servers into maintenance mode, and more.
- Blueprints. Orchestrate your solutions by querying and deploying Blueprint templates.
- Accounts. Create, update, suspend, and delete entire accounts.
- Users. Query, create, update, and delete user records.
- Billing Details. Among the first of its kind, our billing interface lets you retrieve invoices, view month-to-date charges, and see an estimate of future charges.
This API makes it simple to add Tier 3 actions into your own internal processes. For instance, you could provision users in the Tier 3 cloud whenever you onboard a new employee within a certain department. Or schedule a job that pulls Tier 3 invoices into your ERP system on the last day of every month. Provide a single page interface for developers to spin up temporary development environments. There are countless scenarios where the Tier 3 cloud can provide a backbone to services that you want to provide your customers and users.
These features offer a unique opportunity for organizations to capitalize on the shift to the cloud. Have ideas on how we can make these capabilities even better? Leave a comment here or contact us if you have an idea for additional features that would make Tier 3 your choice for a private label cloud.