APPUiO Control API


APPUiO Cloud is on one hand an orchestrator of configuration across multiple APPUiO Zones. On the other hand it contains features that go beyond simply deploying Kubernetes workload, for example metering and billing of such workload. The APPUiO Control API is the construct for both.

APPUiO Cloud does not contain all the features in its core. Certain features are to be provided by foreign software components, which are called Adapters in this context.

For both APPUiO Control API (and consequently Adapter API) an architecture pattern is needed to define the playground for both the orchestration but also the adapters. This pattern must follow the VSHN Company Beliefs (mainly the part "For that we use"), which states that the chosen proposal should run with or on Kubernetes.

This decision is specifically addressing the following concrete issues:

  • Definition of an API pattern that users can interact with in order to configure their view of APPUiO Cloud (for example organizations or teams).

  • Definition of an API pattern that users query for accessing data which APPUiO Cloud is not authoritative for.

Out of scope in this decision is the definition of how adapters and other internal components interact with eachother in order to complete their tasks.

The APPUiO Control API has to provide means so that APPUiO Portal can use the same API endpoint as well as other clients, for example a CLI.

It must be possible to integrate various different back-end systems which implement the same functionality.

APPUiO Control API only specifies the interface, the implementation is then specific to the provider of the API.

Relevant requirements


Custom API

For each subsystem there will be well-defined interfaces that serve as "contracts" which providers have to implement. APPUiO Control API is a custom (REST or GraphQL) API endpoint which consumes third-party providers.

Not only is this API endpoint an interface for foreign components, but also contains some orchestration, for example talking to Keycloak in order to create new organizations.

Authentication, authorization and other core features will have to be implemented specific within this orchestration layer. Operations can be a synchronous or asynchronous. This orchestration layer can also be implemented as microservices, this proposal does not further define the deployment aspect, though this layer is to be running on Kubernetes.

Adapters have to behave according to a Adapter API, but may need to connect (adapt) to their concrete subsystem via a foreign API.

With a well-defined interface, clients can be generated for all major programming languages, for example for frontends or CLI apps.

rest api proposal.drawio
This diagram is an example to highlight the idea and does not display the final state.
Example 1. Invoicing example
  1. A foreign ERP adapter queries the metrics database to generate new invoices.

  2. Eventually, the foreign ERP system has generated the invoice along with a PDF version.

  3. Clients requesting a list of invoices will transparently query the ERP adapter which will then return a set of relevant invoices.

Kubernetes API

The Kubernetes API server provides a standardized API pattern that comes with authentication, RBAC, well-defined resource-model or extensibility with CRDs. By design, Kubernetes is a API framework that works with reconciling a desired state. Business logic or orchestration is asynchronous by nature and this leads to an eventual-consistent behavior of the platform.

Implementation-wise the core extensibility features of the Kubernetes API server are leveraged. This could mean that the APPUiO Control API specification is written as CRDs and the back-end functionality implemented as a Kubernetes controller or a custom aggregated API server. Even the crossplane-runtime could be used to write the back-end functionality, which is an SDK designed to especially work with foreign third-party APIs.

A dedicated Kubernetes API server will be used for that to not interfere with other workload running on this instance. This could be a virtualized API server (for example vcluster) or a full-blown Kubernetes cluster. The controllers acting on the CRDs can run directly in this API server or outside in another Kubernetes cluster. All operations are handled through the Kubernetes API server, CRDs and controllers.

Popular Kubernetes CLI clients such as kubectl can natively display and work with the APPUiO Control API. The APPUiO Portal can directly interact with native Kubernetes API without another REST or GraphQL between.

kubernetes api proposal.drawio
This diagram is an example to highlight the idea and does not display the final state.
Example 2. Invoicing example
  1. A foreign ERP adapter queries the metrics database to generate new invoices.

  2. Eventually, the foreign ERP system has generated the invoice along with a PDF version.

  3. The ERP adapter creates an Invoice custom Kubernetes resource with a download link to a PDF version.

  4. Clients requesting invoices can retrieve a list of Invoices via Kubernets API.

The orchestration of other core features is also implemented as controllers. For example organizations are represented as Organization object in a dedicated APPUiO Cloud metadata namespace. A controller will then create a group in Keycloak.


Kubernetes API


The Kubernetes API approach has been chosen because the engineers at VSHN have a lot of know-how working with it. It allows to start fast as the important API plumbing is provided right from the beginning from the Kubernetes API server.

The following reasons favor the Kubernetes API over the custom API:


The standard Kubernetes RBAC system provides basic access control. Optionally a policy engine like Kyverno allows more fine-grained control.


It allows to build upon an asynchronous and eventual-consistent architecture which VSHN has a lot of experience with due to VSHNs day-to-day business with Kubernetes.

API Extensibility and versioning

By leveraging the built-in API versioning Kubernetes brings already proven strategies dealing with extending APIs.

Framework ecosystem

For both proposals there are popular OpenSource ecosystems with various framework support. However VSHN has more experience writing Kubernetes-based controllers and knows how to work with the Kubernetes API.

Frontend development and testing

Both proposals enable faking an inexistent provider. The Kubernetes API approach makes this comparatively easier by just creating Kubernetes resources without an actual controller reconciling them ("Fake it 'till you make it").

Experience from Project Syn

Project Syn features a similar architecture which serves as inspiration.