Cloud Blueprinting: A Developer’s Map to Innovation

The rapidly-developing world of clouds is pushing developers and IT operations to design fast – and deliver even faster.  A new concept of ‘cloud blueprinting’ is helping IT keep pace – and even recapture more time and freedom to innovate. Accenture’s Rodrigo Flores explains, and even shares some examples.

Tags: Accenture, Amazon, Azure, blueprinting, cloud, configuration, devops, dev/test, infrastructure, provisioning, QA, self-service, templates,

Rodrigo Flores
Managing Director
Accenture Cloud Platform


"A blueprint enables solutions to be built up quickly in a repeatable, reliable, and predictable way—and always in compliance."

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In general, cloud developers prefer to be left to their own devices to create solutions, rather than follow an “Insert Code A into Line B” regimen. So you’d think developers would balk at a technology called blueprinting, which sounds a little too much like paint-by-numbers.

 

But given the fast-developing world of cloud, blueprinting is evolving into an ideal environment that gives developers even more freedom to innovate, not less.

Here’s how.

 

Put simply, a blueprint is a template that describes infrastructure requirements, server configuration requirements, and application configuration requirements. It enables solutions to be built up quickly in an environment in a repeatable, reliable, and predictable way—and always in compliance.

 

This is an ideal solution for development and test teams that need to deploy complex application stacks on a regular basis. This activity is labor intensive, error-prone and time consuming. Blueprints make it easy for architects to define a complete application stack and provide a simple, repeatable one-click deployment; saving weeks of effort and enabling faster development and QA cycle times.

 

The value for developers is that they can quickly launch reconfigured environments or reconfigured platforms in the cloud of their choice – a tremendous time saver. Instead of manually configuring these environments, they can be launched from a blueprint and the list of available platform components is growing. For example, some users like to develop and test on a public cloud platform such as Amazon, then move the project to private cloud for deployment. Blueprinting technologies are helpful in making that happen by providing easy, one-click ordering for application development teams.

 

Integrating blueprinting with other central cloud technologies like Chef can help developers do their job better by allowing them to deliver code that automatically installs and configures their applications in true DevOps fashion. By defining the relationship between servers and infrastructure roles in a blueprint, the developer is assured that their application is properly installed: repeatedly, reliably and consistently.

 

A sample blueprint:

 

Stack Blueprint Component

Component Type

Name (Unique ID)

Description

 

 

Server

Database Tier

 

 

 

Server

Message Tier

 

 

 

Server

Web Tier

 

 

 

Server

Web Load Balancer

 

 

 

Plan (Chef)

LJP Base

 

 

 

Plan (Chef)

LJP MySql

 

 

 

Plan (Chef)

LJP RabbitMQ

 

 

 

Plan (Chef)

LJP Tomcat7

 

 

 



Stack Blueprint Relationships

Relationship Type

From Component Type

From Component Name

To Component Type

To Component Name

Server in Network Zone

Server

Database Tier

Network Zone

Protected Private

Server in Network Zone

Server

Message Tier

Network Zone

Protected Private

Server in Network Zone

Server

Web Tier

Network Zone

Protected Public

Server in Network Zone

Server

Web Load Balancer

Network Zone

Protected Public

Plan on Server

Plan (Chef)

LJP Base

Server

All Servers

Plan on Server

Plan (Chef)

LJP MySql

Server

Database Tier



Stack Blueprint Requirements

Requirement Type

Component Type

Component Name

Requirement Type Qualifier

Network Zone

Server

Database Tier

Protected Private

Network Zone

Server

Message Tier

Protected Private

Network Zone

Server

Web Tier

Protected Public

Network Zone

Server

Web Load Balancer

Protected Public

Total No. of vCPUs

Stack

----------

6

Total No. of vRAM

Stack

----------

1

Total Data Disk Storage (GB)

Stack

----------

0

 

Cloud platform providers can offer a host of blueprints in their catalog, based on best practices (SAP, Oracle, DevOps systems, etc.). But enterprise IT teams can also assemble their own blueprints under a “private catalog.” In some instances, a provider can offer an editor that allows people to include virtual machine (VM) templates as well as scripts to configure the VM components, and blueprints can include network configuration as well.

 

Ultimately, blueprints allow precise specification of infrastructure and application configuration requirements, while providing flexibility for customization. Blueprints are enabling—not controlling—and provide developers with manageable and scalable tools that can significantly reduce lead times for getting development and test environments up-and-running while having continuous integration and delivery tools such as Git, Sonar, Nexus and Jenkins deployed and ready to use. The result? Developers can bring their cloud application ideas and solutions to the customer faster.

 

Blueprinting saves developers’ time, encourages innovation, and allows them to focus on what they do best.

 


Rodrigo Flores is Managing Director of the Accenture Cloud Platform in charge of Architecture, Product Management and its Innovation Center.  ACP is a hybrid cloud service offering access to top cloud providers (Amazon, Azure, NTT, etc.) along with management, brokering, security, PaaS, SaaS and integration. Flores pioneered service catalog-driven self-service provisioning as founder of newScale (later acquired by Cisco).

 




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