Cloud Services

TOSCA Blueprints at vCloud Air

By: Paco Gómez

This is a repost from Paco Gómez’s personal blog.

The VMware vCloud® Air™ Command Line Interface is a traditional solution for interactive, text-based operations, which allows scripting and lightweight automation. In this post I’m going to talk about another approach to automation that we’ve been working on at vCloud Air for the last few months: TOSCA Application Blueprints.

TOSCA (Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications) is an open standard from OASIS that aims to enhance portability and management of cloud applications and services. In practical terms, a TOSCA service template (or application blueprint) is a document written in YAML that adheres to the syntax defined by the specification. The template is submitted to a TOSCA-compliant orchestration engine and, as a result, the application gets deployed and configured on the cloud provider of choice.

The draft 03 of the spec has been recently published and is worth taking a look as it has many good examples. But nothing beats a working demo and here I will describe the steps to deploy a TOSCA blueprint on vCloud Air. The implementation is based on Cloudify, an Open Source TOSCA-based orchestration engine from GigaSpaces, and the TOSCA vCloud plugin developed as a joint collaboration between VMware vCloud Air and GigaSpaces.


To run this demo yourself, you need a vCloud Air account (sign Up for a $300 in service credit here) and a machine with Python, PyPi, Virtualenv and git.


Start by opening a console and creating a working directory, create a Python virtual environment and install cloudify and vca-cli:

The Blueprint

The sample TOSCA blueprint is located at this public repository. The blueprint contains a virtual machine that is connected to a network and has a public IP address. The blueprint also defines that a web server (ngnix) should be installed on the virtual machine and that ports 22 and 80 should be accessible from outside.

This simple blueprint illustrates two important concepts in TOSCA orchestration:

  • Infrastructure provisioning: a vApp/VM is instantiated on a virtual datacenter from a template and network resources are configured according to the template
  • Software configuration: in this case, a web server gets installed and started on the VM created previously

Ok, let’s get the blueprint and customize the input values:

Edit the file my-input-values.yaml and modify the following properties:

Property Value Notes
vcloud_username your vCloud Air username provide your own
vcloud_password the password use single quotes
vcloud_instance your vCloud Air instance use vca instance
vcloud_vdc the virtual datacenter use vca vdc
public_ip the public IP use vca gateway
ssh_public_key SSH public key use ssh-keygen
ssh_private_key_path local path of the private SSH key e.g. ~/.ssh/id_rsa

To get some of these values, use vca-cli. You might need to allocate a new public IP address, if you don’t have any. The network where the virtual machine will be connected to, needs to have a valid DNS server configured (e.g. This can be configured with vCloud Portal. Alternatively you can create a new network with the right values, using vca-cli as described here

Orchestrating the Blueprint

When creating blueprints, it is important to make sure the document is correct. Use the validate command in cfy:

To orchestrate the blueprint, we are going to use cfy, the Cloudify Command Line Interface. Other methods to deploy the blueprint are available, including the Cloudify manager. The first step is to initialize a local workflow execution environment in the current directory. The command also installs the plugins indicated in the blueprint:

We are now ready to deploy our application, by running the install workflow of the blueprint:

After a few minutes, we should get a message indicating that the workflow ended successfully:

To check that the application is up and running, open a browser to the public IP specified in the blueprint:

You should get the familiar welcome page of ngnix. You can also use vca-clito check the created VM and the NAT rules configured by the blueprint:

Cleaning Up

When the time comes to tear down the application, just execute the uninstallworkflow of the blueprint:

After the workflow ends, the provisioned VM will be deleted and the NAT rules created by the install workflow will be also deleted, leaving your virtual datacenter in the same state as it was before.


Application orchestration represents a higher level of abstraction that is designed for automating deployments on the cloud. vCloud Air customers can now write application blueprints in TOSCA and deploy service templates using Cloudify and the plugin for vCloud.

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