As a technical specialist in the DevOps field I would like to share with you my experience around IBM UrbanCode Deploy and how we, based on this experience, are extending the tool with our Talos plugin.

As you may already know, IBM UrbanCode Deploy (UCD) is a tool for automating application deployments throughout your environments. It is designed to facilitate rapid feedback and continuous delivery in agile development while providing the audit trails, versioning and approvals needed in production.

I have personally been involved in several IBM UCD projects across Europe, some of which represent the best IBM use cases for UCD, and I highly regard its ability to improve your application deployment processes due to the variety of features and enormous flexibility it provides.

IBM UCD uses a plugin based approach to integrate with virtually all technologies involved in your application deployment process: from the database or middleware layer to network settings that you may need to perform at every deployment, such as hanging load balancers configuration. By using those plugins, you can create application deployment workflows using an easy process design and allow complicated deployments to be completed by a single person or even by a non-technical user.

One of the biggest problems I always face in deployment automation projects is how to deal with application-related middleware configurations. In deployment automation tool demos, we always see application deployments being done very quickly and without any issue. However, in most of those demos, the vendor always use very simple applications (almost HelloWord type of applications) without any kind of actual middleware configuration requirements. Well, unfortunately, it is not quite as simple: most enterprise applications do require complex middleware configurations to work properly, from database connections to SSL configurations, for instance. Not all deployment automation tools plays that well with that aspect.

Since UCD is focused on the overall deployment process, from end-to-end, we saw an opportunity to supplement this with powerful middleware configuration management. And this is why Tech Data has developed and introduced Talos. With Talos, the middleware configuration solution from Tech Data, we are looking to close this gap for UCD (and other competitive automation and orchestration engines) and provide an easy and consistent way to manage your application-related middleware configurations.

Talos allows you to read configurations from an existing middleware instance; create one or more templates from those configurations using an easy-to-use template editor; and apply them to subsequent environments in your Software Development LifeCycle (SDLC). On those templates, you can create variables for values that may change between environments (for instance, database hostnames or file paths) and set the values for those variables for each environment. All of these in a simple web UI, without the need of maintaining scripts, manage complicated properties nomenclature, or copying and editing files holding your configurations.

Another benefit of Talos is that the integration with all middleware technologies currently supported is virtually the same. In other words, the way you create and manage configurations for WebSphere Application Server is the same for IBM MQ, IBM DataPower or JBoss Application Server, for instance.

When investing in developing Talos, we also invested in creating a very strong integration with IBM UCD in order to get the best of two worlds: a solution that allow us to easily template and maintain our application-related middleware configurations and a solution that can perform and maintain our end-to-end application deployment process.

Talos uses UCD REST API to mirror all actions you do in Talos web UI in UCD. For instance, when you create a new Talos template, a new UCD component is created; or, when you apply that template to a middleware instance, the correspondent component is added to the UCD resource tree. In this way, you do not have any duplicated work: the work you do in Talos is replicated in UCD to allow you to easily include middleware configurations that your application needs in the deployment process.

Another piece of this integration is the Talos plugin for UCD. This plugin provides the process steps needed to run Talos activities as, for instance, apply Talos templates to your target environment. These process steps can be added to any UCD deployment process using UCD process designer, so you can apply middleware configurations managed in Talos as part of your end-to-end application deployment process.

Personally, I have to say that I find Tech Data’s integration with UCD really strong, and I believe the two can provide huge benefits to any enterprise. These two solutions complement each other perfectly and can highly improve the way you currently deploy and manage your applications and related configurations. I’m really proud of what we have and can achieve when using Talos and UCD together. If you like to know more don’t hesitate to get in touch, or why not try our 30 days free trial of Talos and see for yourself.

About the Author Sérgio Imperial

Sérgio Imperial is a senior tecnical consultant mainly specialized in IBM solutions for more than 10 years. For the last 5 years, Sérgio has been focused in the DevOps and Automation spaces. He has been helping enterprises in streamline their software development lifecycle leveraging a wide range of tools and technologies. Currently, Sérgio is Lead Software Architect for Talos, Avnet's Middleware Automation software.

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