Bitnami Stacksmith, now with Support for Microsoft Azure

Martin Albisetti

Martin Albisetti


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Bitnami and Microsoft announced today the inclusion of Microsoft Azure support in Stacksmith. This represents a significant effort, and the addition of this platform opens up a lot of great possibilities. I want to share some key points of this integration with you. But first, for those of you unfamiliar with Stacksmith, here is a brief overview.

Bitnami Stacksmith is an easy to use SaaS tool that repackages traditional applications so they can be migrated out of the datacenter to cloud and container platforms.

To simplify this process (and to help those with limited cloud experience, for example), Stacksmith provides a set of predefined application architectures in the form of "templates". For example, there are templates for standalone Tomcat applications, Tomcat+MySQL applications, JBoss+MySQL applications, and so on.

If your application architecture is not supported with one of these predefined templates, Bitnami Stacksmith also provides a base template that you can customize for your specific use case. Using these templates, moving your application to the cloud can be as easy as uploading your application and clicking a button.

Build for multiple targets

Stacksmith lets you build for multiple targets/formats at the same time, if you need the same application running on different platforms. For example, Stacksmith lets you create a virtual machine image for deployment to Azure and a container for deployment to Azure Container Service (AKS) in the same packaging process.

When you package for Azure, Stacksmith will build an Azure Resource Manager template for you, along with a managed virtual machine (VM) image that contains all the necessary dependencies as well as your application. When you package for Kubernetes, Stacksmith will build a ready-for-launch Helm Chart, along with a container that contains all the necessary dependencies as well as your application.

Stacksmith builds for multiple Azure targets

Virtual Machines and Azure Resource Manager templates

Stacksmith creates and stores all assets in your own Azure account, including VM images and the ARM templates to launch them. Virtual Machines are created using managed disks to enable flexibility and production-grade workloads, and are always checked and updated to the latest system packages on each build. So any application that you build using Stacksmith will be up-to-date, and tracked from then on, with alerts provided when component updates become available.

In order to make deploying a frictionless experience, for each build you will get an ARM template along with the VM image. This ARM template will orchestrate everything for you, from creating databases in managed services when required, to passing in the credentials to access the database to your instance when it boots so you can dynamically configure them.

Containers

Containers are clearly the new and exciting technology everyone's looking at. It's so new and exciting that Bitnami collaborated closely with the Azure team to integrate into the new Azure Container Registry (ACR) Build feature during its development. ACR Build is a suite of features within Azure Container Registry, which provides not only native container image build capability, but also automates OS and framework patching for your Docker containers. If you haven't tried it yet, give it a spin, we think it's pretty cool.

Because we collaborated so closely, our launch of Azure support in Stacksmith takes advantage of this new service to build your containers for you. Containers built with Stacksmith will be built reliably by ACR Build and pushed to your private registry so you can control deployments to your environments.

Taking full advantage of Azure's wide breadth of features, whenever we build containers we will also generate a Helm Chart that enables you to deploy that container to AKS from your private registry. Just download the Helm Chart and run helm install on your cluster. It will orchestrate bringing up your application, bringing up any database you might need and connecting them to each other.

Replatforming lets you take advantage of additional Azure features

In order to enable production deployments from day 1, Stacksmith will produce ARM templates that will automatically set up and connect you to key Database-as-a-Service features in Azure.

For anything that requires MongoDB, you will be able to select a template that sets up CosmosDB when using VMs, allowing your applications to scale out as needed. For workloads that require SQL servers, you can opt to use the Azure Database service in either its MySQL or PostgreSQL variants.

Stacksmith will also make sure your ARM templates have best practices encoded in them by default, creating virtual networks, security groups and default firewall settings to get you started on a safe and scalable deployment.

Stacksmith Enables Simple Application Updating

In the packaging process, Stacksmith brings together all the necessary libraries and dependencies that are needed. These dependencies are documented and the image is versioned. Once the application is migrated, Stacksmith monitors these application dependencies and delivers alerts when updates are available.

This enables you to move to best practice image-based deployments. Stacksmith creates images that can be treated as immutable. This means that when there is a change to your application, its dependencies, or the underlying operating system and you re-package it, Stacksmith creates an entirely new image.

And Stacksmith provides a simple way to re-package your application to incorporate these updates, removing the complexity currently encountered with tracking and updating applications in your data center. This ongoing maintenance makes it easy for you to keep your applications up to date and secure.

Replatforming has never been so easy. Stacksmith allows you to re-package your traditional applications, optimize them for the cloud, incorporate best practices for Microsoft, and migrate them to to Azure and/or AKS. Once replatformed, Stacksmith makes it easy to keep them up to date. Come see for yourself. Sign up for our 30 day free trial at https://bitnami.com/stacksmith.