Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Harry Trott, Ashish Nanjiani, Moshe Kranc, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo

@CloudExpo: Article

Cloud Computing Reference Architectures, Models and Frameworks

Making sense of the many reference architectures, models and frameworks for cloud

Reference ‘Things’
A Reference Architecture (RA) “should” provide a blueprint or template architecture that can be reused by others wishing to adopt a similar solution. A Reference Model (RM) should explain the concepts and relationships that underlie the RA. At Everware-CBDI we then use the term Reference Framework (RF) as a container for both. Reference architectures, models and frameworks help to make sense of Cloud Computing.

Unfortunately, such formality is absent from the various reference architectures, models and frameworks that have been published for Cloud Computing; these frequently mix elements of architecture and model, and then apply one of the terms seemingly at random.

In developing the CBDI-Service Architecture and Engineering Reference Framework (SAE) in support of SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) Everware-CBDI separated out various parts as shown in figure 1. We developed a detailed RA for SOA and a RM for SOA, with particular emphasis on a rich and detailed Meta Model for SOA and a Maturity Model for SOA. We also developed a detailed process and task decomposition for SOA activities.

But the RF is easily generalized, as shown in figure 1, where the various elements could be applied to any domain, and explicit references for example to “SOA Meta Model” or “SOA Standards” etc., can be removed.

Generalized Reference Framework

Figure 1 – Generalized Reference Framework

The benefit of this approach is that elements of the framework can then be mapped to each other in different ways to support alternative perspectives such as different usage or adoption scenarios, or the viewpoint of an individual participant or organization. Whereas most of the Cloud Computing Reference architectures, models and frameworks proposed today apply to a single perspective.

Current Cloud Computing Reference Architecture, Models and Frameworks
As discussed there are many frameworks and models to choose from. It is not my intention to detail and critique them all individually. Credit must go to NIST who have already done much of that in their 2010 Survey of Cloud Architecture Reference Models.

We may classify Cloud reference models as one of two styles, either

Analysis of the these shows that they typically contain,

  • Roles – that would be better placed in the Organization section of an RF

  • Activities – which would be part of the Process Model

  • Layered Architecture – which would be part in the Reference Architecture

Used this way, the generalized RF in figure 1 becomes a useful tool to analyze proposed Cloud Computing Reference architectures, models and frameworks in terms of understanding better what they actually contain, and a basis for development of an enterprise specific framework.

Everware-CBDI recommend that is more useful to model the capabilities required for Cloud Computing rather than to list them all as activities - as that may imply processes and tasks which is not always the case. Across the industry capability modeling is rapidly becoming the de facto standard approach to business design, and it seems highly appropriate to use the technique in planning Cloud frameworks. Using this technique capabilities are separated from the processes that use them and from roles that possess them, and consequently mapped in different ways to show different scenarios. The capability model would be in the RM section of the RF and should be used extensively in disciplines such as roadmap planning, process improvement, technology planning, service management etc.

A useful source of capabilities is provided by the Cloud Computing Reference Model/Architecture in The Role of Enterprise Architecture in Federal Cloud Computing published by the American Council for Technology.

Figure 2 takes the various elements from these different architectures, models and framework and places them into a generic RF. The intention here is not to reinvent the wheel, but consolidate the elements contained across the different reference architectures, models and frameworks for Cloud Computing into a unified framework.

Figure 2 - Cloud Computing Elements Placed in Generic Reference Frameworks

Figure 2 - Cloud Computing Elements Placed in Generic Reference Frameworks

Elements highlighted in green are usually covered by existing Cloud Computing reference architectures, models and frameworks. These focus primarily on the operational state of the life cycle, and the implementation and deployment architectures.

Mapping
Once the various elements have been placed into their appropriate part of the RF, then you can start mapping them to suit different scenarios. For example activities in the process decomposition can be mapped against roles – either organizational roles or people roles - perhaps using RAEW, as shown in Table 1.

Table Mapping Process Activities to Roles

Table 1 – Mapping Process Activities to Roles

At a high level, table 1 may appear a bit obvious, but at a more detailed level it helps to understand where and by whom these activities will be performed in your organization, or how it might differ in specific scenarios from the proposed reference architectures mentioned so far.

In some scenarios it may be required that the cloud consumer performs certain cloud management activities not just the provider. Whilst the cloud provider may be required to provide the necessary management capabilities, both the consumer and provider perform management activities.

Hence mapping capabilities to role in table 2 is another useful exercise, understanding who provides and who uses various capabilities. Whilst the NIST, IBM and other reference architectures do show this, as mentioned earlier their view is focused primarily on the operational state, and on the mapping of capabilities required in the operational infrastructure. As table 2 shows the span of responsibility and capability is very much wider than the operational perspective!

Table Mapping Capabilities to Roles

Table 2 – Mapping Capabilities to Roles

Recommendations
The value of a reference framework is to provide a consistency in such aspects as terminology, deliverables and governance across an organization. To understand the totality of the task and to manage the adoption in a proactive manner rather than allowing uncontrolled experimentation. This permits sensible reuse across the whole spectrum of capabilities and avoids the necessity for each enterprise to reinvent the wheel, and to make mistakes that could have been avoided.

I recommend organizations

  • Build their own reference framework. This should be applicable to their

    1. Current and planned maturity states for cloud computing. See the Everware-CBDI research note on Cloud Computing Maturity Model

    2. Primary role(s) – as provider, consumer, broker, etc

  • Expect to customize public domain reference framework materials to suit their specific purpose

  • Consider how they will address those sections not covered by public domain reference framework materials (the pink areas in Figure 2)

  • Consider how the capability requirements change when viewed from a purely cloud consumer perspective which may be the case when there is just tactical use of public cloud, to that of more enterprise-wide usage involving private cloud, and perhaps integration of public, private, and non-cloud apps (see Service Portfolio Planning and Architecture for Cloud Services for an enterprise perspective)

Recommended Resources

More Stories By Lawrence Wilkes

Lawrence Wilkes is a consultant, author and researcher developing best practices in Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), Enterprise Architecture (EA), Application Modernization (AM), and Cloud Computing. As well as consulting to clients, Lawrence has developed education and certification programmes used by organizations and individuals the world over, as well as a knowledgebase of best practices licenced by major corporations. See the education and products pages on http://www.everware-cbdi.com

@CloudExpo Stories
A look across the tech landscape at the disruptive technologies that are increasing in prominence and speculate as to which will be most impactful for communications – namely, AI and Cloud Computing. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Curtis Peterson, VP of Operations at RingCentral, highlighted the current challenges of these transformative technologies and shared strategies for preparing your organization for these changes. This “view from the top” outlined the latest trends and developments i...
Automation is enabling enterprises to design, deploy, and manage more complex, hybrid cloud environments. Yet the people who manage these environments must be trained in and understanding these environments better than ever before. A new era of analytics and cognitive computing is adding intelligence, but also more complexity, to these cloud environments. How smart is your cloud? How smart should it be? In this power panel at 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, paneli...
Hardware virtualization and cloud computing allowed us to increase resource utilization and increase our flexibility to respond to business demand. Docker Containers are the next quantum leap - Are they?! Databases always represented an additional set of challenges unique to running workloads requiring a maximum of I/O, network, CPU resources combined with data locality.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ayehu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara California. Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infras...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datanami has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datanami is a communication channel dedicated to providing insight, analysis and up-to-the-minute information about emerging trends and solutions in Big Data. The publication sheds light on all cutting-edge technologies including networking, storage and applications, and the...
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
SYS-CON Events announced today that EnterpriseTech has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. EnterpriseTech is a professional resource for news and intelligence covering the migration of high-end technologies into the enterprise and business-IT industry, with a special focus on high-tech solutions in new product development, workload management, increased effi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SourceForge has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SourceForge is the largest, most trusted destination for Open Source Software development, collaboration, discovery and download on the web serving over 32 million viewers, 150 million downloads and over 460,000 active development projects each and every month.
In this presentation, Striim CTO and founder Steve Wilkes will discuss practical strategies for counteracting fraud and cyberattacks by leveraging real-time streaming analytics. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Steve Wilkes, Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Striim, will provide a detailed look into leveraging streaming data management to correlate events in real time, and identify potential breaches across IoT and non-IoT systems throughout the enterprise. Strategies for processing massive ...
"Our strategy is to focus on the hyperscale providers - AWS, Azure, and Google. Over the last year we saw that a lot of developers need to learn how to do their job in the cloud and we see this DevOps movement that we are catering to with our content," stated Alessandro Fasan, Head of Global Sales at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We focus on composable infrastructure. Composable infrastructure has been named by companies like Gartner as the evolution of the IT infrastructure where everything is now driven by software," explained Bruno Andrade, CEO and Founder of HTBase, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
What's the role of an IT self-service portal when you get to continuous delivery and Infrastructure as Code? This general session showed how to create the continuous delivery culture and eight accelerators for leading the change. Don Demcsak is a DevOps and Cloud Native Modernization Principal for Dell EMC based out of New Jersey. He is a former, long time, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, specializing in building and architecting Application Delivery Pipelines for hybrid legacy, and cloud ...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
21st International Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Me...
"Tintri focuses on the Ops side of the DevOps, which basically is pushing more and more of the accessibility of the infrastructure to the developers and trying to get behind the scenes," explained Dhiraj Sehgal of Tintri in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We do one of the best file systems in the world. We learned how to deal with Big Data many years ago and we implemented this knowledge into our software," explained Jakub Ratajczak, Business Development Manager at MooseFS, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.