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IBM UrbanCode Blueprint Designer Value Proposition: Eliminating Manual Configuration in IBM UrbanCode Deploy

Over the last couple of releases, IBM UrbanCode Blueprint Designer has undergone significant evolution to become a real enterprise scale cloud deployment tool extending the “traditional” use cases of UrbanCode Deploy. There are now examples of some very complex implementations between Apple and IBM dealing with dozens of cloud instances. To date, the use of IBM Blueprint Designer is relatively small and completely new within enterprises currently using IBM UrbanCode Deploy. This blog entry talks about identifying the value proposition of using IBM UrbanCode Blueprint Designer over “traditional” UrbanCode Deploy when deploying applications to the cloud. For those who are approaching UrbanCode products for the first time, we will begin with a brief overview.

What is UrbanCode Deploy?

UrbanCode Deploy (UCD) is a tool for automating application deployments. It provides capabilities to consistently deploy and rollback applications and orchestrates changes across servers and full-stack environments. With UCD, you always know what is deployed where and who changed what. UCD provides a graphical editor to define, step by step, how a component gets deployed and configured. Plugins extend the design “steps” adding capabilities to the palette in the graphical editor directly supporting the various types of tools and infrastructure that you use in your environments. UCD, with its rich set of plugins, is powerful enough alone. However, when considering the full product suite of UrbanCode Deploy, Release, and Blueprint Designer, never before have developers and operations personnel had such a rich platform providing a complete view of the build, deploy, test, and release pipeline, as well as full-stack environments in the cloud.

What is Blueprint Designer?

Probably one of the least understood products in the UrbanCode suite is the Blueprint Designer (BPD). BPD extends UCD providing the ability to provision full-stack environments in the cloud. This includes both the infrastructure and application layers of the environment, short term or long term. Like UCD, BPD employs a graphical editor that you use to model your environments. This is done by grabbing cloud resources, consisting of storage units, virtual images, networking, and security, to a “blueprint” from a design palette. Application components from UCD are then added to those virtual images and component processes to run are identified and executed as part of blueprint provisioning.

Why Blueprint Designer?

UCD, by itself, has plugins that integrate with cloud environments without the need for the BPD. However, there are numerous benefits you get when using the BPD approach vs. the plugin approach in UCD. For example, the AWS EC2 plugin does not provide much of an integrated story, a visualization, to fully manage your cloud environment. The AWS EC2 plugin in UCD is simply a wrapper around the AWS SDK, leaving one to perform a number of manual tasks within UCD. Considering a cloud environment may have tens or hundreds of cloud instances, this can be very tedious and may take a significant amount of time to build a successful deployment process.

The Blueprint Designer Value Proposition

With “traditional” UCD, you need to create applications, application processes, and environments. Then you build a resource tree comprised of top level groups, groups, and agents. Then in the environment, you select a part of the resource tree and attach the components. Lastly, deploy agents would also need to be installed on the target machines of which there could be many – tens, hundreds. All of this is manual.

Screenshot from 2017-02-07 12-14-11

Consider the simple blueprint above. It consists of a network and an Ubuntu VM. In BPD, we primarily deal with components so we grab and place the component onto the VM and choose its LATEST version. When this blueprint is provisioned, the VM is created, the agent is deployed, the resource tree is constructed, and the environment is created in UCD. In addition, the blueprint provides a complete picture of the full-stack environment.

About the Author

David J. Arnone

is an ALM and DevOps Architect specializing in IBM CLM and UrbanCode Deploy solutions and services. As a certified Rational CLM Architect, David joined Zilker Technology in January, 2017 and is part of the growing Zilker DevOps practice team.



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