Customer-driven innovation is baked into our company’s DNA. We’re always looking for ways to help customers create and manage enterprise-class environments on our platform.
One thing they’ve told us in recent months is that they want to be able to quickly find all of the diverse resources they’ve created in the Tier 3 cloud. We heard that request loud and clear and just released Global Search which is a unique capability that dramatically improves your user experience.
What is Global Search? It’s a platform-wide utility that lets you search for accounts, users, servers, Groups, networks, cloud orchestration Blueprints, Blueprint packages, and IP addresses – all from a single search box that is always displayed at the top of each page in our Control Portal.
The IT Professional Scenario
This powerful feature works with partial matches, which means that you can type a word like “Exchange” and get back any Tier 3 resource in your account hierarchy that is related to a Microsoft Exchange mail server. Below, see that this particular search returned some servers that are running Exchange Server, groups residing in different data centers, an account with the word “Exchange” in the description field, and a Blueprint.
Our design team studied the best search experiences in consumer and business products – Spotlight from Apple, as well as the search experience in GitHub for example – for ideas on how to refine results quickly for users.
The Support Scenario
Global Search works great for scenarios when you recall a partial name of a resource but don’t know which data center it resides in, or which sub-account it is associated with. Or, consider the case for the Tier 3 Network Operations Center (NOC) where a support request comes in, and all the caller has is the IP address of the troublesome server. Instead of navigating through collections of servers in the hopes of stumbling upon the right one, the support agent can now just type in all or part of the IP address into Global Search. What happens when you select one of the search results? The Global Search not only takes you to the selected resource, but also switches your account context and data center (if those values are different than your current context). All with a single click!
The Reseller Scenario
Another key use case revolves around resellers who deliver our cloud services to their customers. Those resellers have to manage numerous accounts and users and wanted a fast way to locate records. Tier 3 Global Search can find resources that span data centers and sub-accounts which is ideal for those who have resources spread out globally. Even if the only data you have is a last name or email address, you can still quickly find accounts or users that match that value.
Global Search will introduce massive efficiencies for daily users of the Tier 3 cloud. Whether you are support staff, , a system administrator, or a developer, this feature ensures that you can put your servers and users in any of our global data centers without worrying about how to find them later. Want to try out Global Search? Sign up for a free trial and see what an enterprise cloud SHOULD be.
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.
Tier 3 builds on an agile development methodology and we update our platform about once every six weeks, but this month’s release is a doozy! Over the last 48 hours we’ve released a major platform update that includes:
Group server management tools
Scheduled tasks for all types of servers and groups of servers
More than 400 additional new features and bug fixes
New Group VM Capability Eases Server Management
Tier 3 Groups is a new feature that allows users to logically group virtual machines by environment type, application, or any other user-specified criteria for easier server management. (Watch the demo video above.) With Groups you can manage large-scale deployments without the burden of configuring and monitoring each server individually. You can nest groups up to 32 levels deep—with policies and permissions automatically inherited by sub-groups and override functionality at every level.
Schedule or perform management tasks (such as stopping and starting, rebooting, or setting to maintenance mode) across all servers in a group or sub-group
Set default server configurations (e.g. OS version, DNS settings, VLAN) when a new server is provisioned within a group
Adjust an environment’s footprint as needed by archiving and restoring a group of VMs with all policy and configuration settings intact, or take a group’s snapshot for enhanced disaster recovery capabilities
Enhanced Reporting for Deeper Performance and Usage Insights
For even easier auditing and resource monitoring, we now offer comprehensive group reporting across memory, CPU, and disk usage and performance. You will also be able to set capacity limits on those resources by group. Additionally group reporting lets users view support events, ticketing, and hourly and predicted monthly costs—and also gives customers a historical view of server or Group bandwidth, CPU, memory, and storage usage, as well as ping-ability. Users can choose to add alert recipients at the group or server level.
Many More Great New Features
Additional features in this platform update include:
Updated server naming to reflect the two types of environments – Enterprise and Standard
Scheduled tasks have come out of the “Lab” and are now available across all groups and servers—allowing users to schedule management tasks for better server administration
Enhanced cloud orchestration capabilities in our Blueprint feature include additional server-level control, as well as a richer search function to make it even easier to find Blueprints matching your business and technology needs
UI Customization allows customers and partners to tailor the color and graphics of the Control Portal – bringing your branded look and feel to your internal control portal
API updates including new API documentation
We’ve launched a SAML single sign on beta project; customers interested in having this activated should talk to their account rep
We hope you find these recent updates useful.
Log in or sign up today to get instant access to all the new features.
The Tier 3 Platform Team
New Platform and Database Services Join Tier 3 Enterprise Infrastructure Service, Setting New Bar for Comprehensive Cloud Platforms
BELLEVUE, Wash. — May 8, 2012 ― Tier 3, Inc., the enterprise cloud platform company, today announced the next release of the Tier 3 Enterprise Cloud Platform, now with the industry’s most comprehensive set of enterprise-grade cloud services in a single consolidated platform. The Tier 3 cloud now features Web Fabric, 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 Tier 3’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 Tier 3’s multi-language (“polyglot”) Web Fabric, 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. Tier 3 Web Fabric 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 Web Fabric in a secure environment ensuring no risk of “shared” access from other customers and enabling it to run side-by-side with Tier 3’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, Tier 3 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, Tier 3 is also introducing the first in a series of fabric services, the Tier 3 Data Fabric. Delivering enterprise-grade database services (DbaaS), Data Fabric can be called by Tier 3 virtual machines or Web Fabric 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. Tier 3 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, Tier 3 founder chief technology officer. “The Tier 3 Enterprise Cloud Platform with Web Fabric 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 Tier 3 Enterprise Cloud Platform’s new capabilities of Web Fabric, 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 Tier 3’s Enterprise Cloud Platform, underpinned by VMware’s cloud infrastructure, organizations can realize the benefits and value of multi-cloud services.”
Tier 3 Web Fabric is generally available May 8 and Data Fabric is in beta until June 1. Tier 3 is demonstrating its Enterprise Cloud Platform including Web Fabric and Data Fabric May 8-10 at Interop Vegas booth 615.
“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 Tier 3’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 Tier 3’s infrastructure and platform services via dedicated private connections from Equinix data centers and over the Internet via multiple carriers.”
“The Tier 3 Web Fabric 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 Tier 3’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 Web Fabric, together Tier 3 and New Relic are providing our customers with the best tools for identifying and resolving potential performance issues in their business-critical applications.”
About Tier 3
Tier 3 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 Tier 3 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.
Many of you have noticed the upgrade of your Tier 3 Client VPN service, which allows you to connect to the secure network that contains your servers and resources. Read on to learn more about the service and the enhancements made with this update.
Client VPN enables users to connect to their secure isolated network. Each account has its own isolated VPN service provided at no charge. This built-in service is managed by Tier 3’s highly trained network operation center. If you have any issues please look at the status system or contact support.
To complete the Client VPN initial configuration, simply download the certificate—used when connecting to the VPN service—or complete the two-factor authentication that we’ve linked to below. To learn more about ways to connect such as persistent VPN connections or direct connections please go here.
There are only a few limitations on this service as it is based on the OpenVPN project.
Maximum concurrent users: 20 (if you need additional users, please contact support)
Maximum connection: 1Gbps
Performance and Tuning Enhancements
We’ve made a host of performance and tuning enhancements to the Client VPN service that will result in a better user experience. We decreased CPU utilization on each unique instance from 80% down to ~7%, or roughly 1/10th the CPU usage, through the use of an updated kernel, VMware tools, and OpenVPN packages.
We also made changes to the instance that should increase network performance as well as allow the VPN servers to recover in the event of storage latency.
Now More Support!
You can find new documentation that we’ve added our knowledge base for troubleshooting, configuration, running multiple VPN connections, as well as the two factor authentication guide.