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Configure applications to fit all clouds

by Editorial team
A network of blue, digital-looking clouds
The Cloud Topology Designer lets you quickly deploy applications in cloud and multi-cloud environments. Picture: iStock/D3Damon

In this article you will read about, 

  • how to quickly design applications for the cloud using the Cloud Topology Designer,
  • how to make your applications fit for multi-cloud operations without much effort,
  • which advantages cloud orchestration based on the TOSCA standard has over other approaches.

Design once, run anywhere – Operating applications in any cloud without any problems, regardless of the operator technology: To enable software developers to do exactly this, T-Systems has developed the Cloud Topology Designer (CTD). The new tool makes it much easier for software developers to design cloud-based applications. That’s because the CTD offers a catalog of ready-made modules that significantly accelerate the process. The difference to the classic approach: Up to now, anyone who wanted to migrate applications to the public cloud or the private cloud has had to resort to software development kits (SDK) or Infrastructure-as-Code tools (IaC) such as Terraform before they can take care of the actual application. However, this so-called bottom-up approach is not only time-consuming but also strongly focused on the infrastructure, while leaving the application layer out. For example, Terraform primarily provides interfaces to virtual machines (VMs) or networks, but is not designed for applications. 

Modular approach: design once, run anywhere

As a result, each application has to be individually designed and adapted for different cloud scenarios. This requires a lot of effort, if companies want to use hybrid or multi-cloud scenarios. The CTD solves this Gordian knot, because once an application is designed once it can easily be operated in several clouds from different providers – in line with the motto: Design once, run anywhere.  

The Cloud Topology Designer’s top-down approach focuses specifically on applications. Cloud architects use existing modules for this purpose, which they customize as required. This significantly reduces time and costs. Instead of having to spend weeks or even months on adapting applications to new infrastructure environments, applications can now be deployed in another cloud within minutes. With the CTD, companies benefit from a significantly shorter time-to-market. 

Assemble components according to individual requirements

The CTD is based on the two open source projects Application Lifecycle Enablement for Cloud (Alien4cloud) and Ystia Orchestrator (Yorc). The solution’s ready-made building blocks include infrastructure components such as network, processors, and storage as well as application components such as application server and database. Programming languages such as Bash, Python and Ansible are also included in the CTD toolbox. This allows users to assemble the prefabricated IT building blocks in a drag-and-drop process and tailor them to their specific requirements as needed.

A simple application example: In the editor of the CTD an application server is connected to a database via a port. During deployment, the CTD provides the application with the necessary network connections and automatically generates all the security rules.

Reusable modules, TOSCA instead of Terraform

In addition, cloud architects can configure the lifecycle of an application by assigning it instructions for maintenance steps such as starting, stopping or deleting. To avoid duplicate work in the software development, IT building blocks developed in-house can be stored as modular components that can be reused for other applications. 

In order to describe applications, the CTD internally uses the TOSCA standard (Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications). It was developed by the international non-profit organization OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards). The Cloud Topology Designer adds a front-end to the vendor-independent TOSCA description of an application, making it much easier to model a cloud environment.

An appliation design for multi-cloud

Many companies are reluctant to put all their eggs in one basket in cloud computing – instead they are increasingly using hybrid and multi-cloud environments. The TOSCA standard in the Cloud Topology Designer ensures the portability of applications for different cloud providers such as the Open Telekom Cloud, a local virtualization cluster or hyperscalers such as Amazon Web Services and the Google Cloud Platform – there is no danger of vendor lock-in. The TOSCA components are independent of specific providers. Once a cloud architect has designed the application, an administrator then selects the cloud provider(s) in whose infrastructure the application is to be deployed. In this way, the CTD accelerates the migration of locally hosted workloads in cloud environments enormously and reduces the time-to-market – because once designed, an application suits all clouds.

Try Now!

The Cloud Topology Designer itself is running as an application in the Open Telekom Cloud (available from September 1, 2020) in a public beta. If you want to try out the service, log in with your regular credentials of an Open Telekom Domain domain (domain ID, project, user name, password). It is a public beta that is free of charge for Open Telekom Cloud customers when they deploy setups to the Open Telekom Cloud. Of course, the resources consumed by the Open Telekom Cloud are charged according to your plan.

To get further details about the Cloud Topology Designer, have a look at our community.

Book now and claim starting credit of EUR 250


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