Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA) is a standard put together by industry group OASIS that has been used by cloud operators to orchestrate cloud services by providing service templates to help configure applications and underlying networking hardware. It is now being adopted by more traditional service providers as they move toward a cloud model for hosting services.
TOSCA orchestration can help operators more easily configure and move applications in the cloud by providing an interoperable description of application and infrastructure cloud services, including the relationships between parts of the service and the operational behavior of these services.
How TOSCA Orchestration Works
TOSCA is used to define the relationships between services as well as their operational behavior. This can happen independent of software or hardware suppliers or cloud operators. TOSCA abstracts configuration data away from specific hardware or services to make cloud services more interoperable and portable.
TOSCA is used to define a new services using “templates.” These new services can be virtual network functions (VNFs) such as virtual firewalls or routers. It can also describe the topology of the service and what other resources it may need to function.
By providing a standard data model for orchestrating services, TOSCA can help operators more easily configure and move applications in the cloud by providing an interoperable description of application and infrastructure cloud services, including the relationships between parts of the service, and the operational behavior of these services.
TOSCA Orchestration for Operators
Although TOSCA is thought of a cloud operations tool, it is starting to get adopted in traditional service provider environments as cloud deployment models such as network functions virtualization (NFV) take hold.
For example, large service providers such as AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, and Orange have made public statements about their use of TOSCA-based technology to orchestrate their NFV environments. TOSCA is also used in many open source orchestration software projects such as Open-O and OPNFV, which provide tools for managing NFV environments. Verizon outlines the use of TOSCA in its recently release SDN-NFV Reference Architecture.
Many software and hardware vendors are targeting the use of TOSCA as a tool for building orchestration platforms for service providers. Gigaspaces, a cloud software company, created the orchestration. Cloudify, which makes heavy use of TOSCA, targeting service provider environments. Cloudify is deployed in several operator environments. Gigaspaces has also developed ARIA, which stands for “Agile Reference Implementation of Automation”, which is a framework for implementing orchestration software based TOSCA.
Recently, traditional service provider networking vendors such as Ciena and ADVA have been promoting the benefits of TOSCA in traditional service provider environments.