UNICORN is Horizon 2020 research and innovation project which aims to facilitate the design and deployment of cloud applications and services and improve developers’ productivity by reducing cloud application design time via code annotations and blueprints for security.
Although the cloud, normally, promises to automate application and infrastructure management, developers denote that hybrid deployments raise the complexity of monitoring and management issues across the multiple clouds (SMEs use, on average, up to 6 different clouds and 1 out of 5 SMEs features deployments comprised of more than 1000 virtual machines, see the infograph).
For the developers, designing secure software and ensuring customer data privacy is a hard enough task by itself, however, resource scaling (dubbed as elasticity) introduces another challenge that must be tackled as well.
Nowadays, a number of application management frameworks claim to address the above challenges facilitating the design and deployment of cloud applications and services. Some of these frameworks are proprietary (e.g., AWS CloudFormation Oracle Exalogic), locking their users to specific providers, while others are generic (e.g., CAMF, Juju, ServishMesh) allowing management of applications on different infrastructures with adapters for popular cloud offering providers (e.g., AWS, Google Compute Cloud and Microsoft Azure). A common denominator in all aforementioned frameworks is that none provide the ability to manage the lifecycle of a cloud service distributed across multiple availability zones and/or cloud sites.
In turn, no framework currently tackles data protection privacy constraints and restrictions. Also, elastic techniques are not well supported to deal with multi-dimensional elastic properties covering resources, costs and quality. Most importantly, these tools tackle the challenges of managing cloud applications after application development, delaying time-to-market which impacts negatively SMEs and startups comprised of small development teams.