Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Aruna Ravichandran

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
As you move to the cloud, your network should be efficient, secure, and easy to manage. An enterprise adopting a hybrid or public cloud needs systems and tools that provide: Agility: ability to deliver applications and services faster, even in complex hybrid environments Easier manageability: enable reliable connectivity with complete oversight as the data center network evolves Greater efficiency: eliminate wasted effort while reducing errors and optimize asset utilization Security: imple...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, will discuss how by using...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japanese Pavilion at 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. Ruby Development Inc. builds new services in short period of time and provides a continuous support of those services based on Ruby on Rails. For more information, please visit https://github.com/RubyDevInc.
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busine...
As businesses evolve, they need technology that is simple to help them succeed today and flexible enough to help them build for tomorrow. Chrome is fit for the workplace of the future — providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will take a look at various options as to how ChromeOS can be leveraged to interact with people on the devices, and formats th...
First generation hyperconverged solutions have taken the data center by storm, rapidly proliferating in pockets everywhere to provide further consolidation of floor space and workloads. These first generation solutions are not without challenges, however. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Wes Talbert, a Principal Architect and results-driven enterprise sales leader at NetApp, will discuss how the HCI solution of tomorrow will integrate with the public cloud to deliver a quality hybrid cloud e...
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable? Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, will answer these questions and demonstrate techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Yuasa System will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at 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. Yuasa System is introducing a multi-purpose endurance testing system for flexible displays, OLED devices, flexible substrates, flat cables, and films in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, and healthcare.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at 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. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busine...
Organizations do not need a Big Data strategy; they need a business strategy that incorporates Big Data. Most organizations lack a road map for using Big Data to optimize key business processes, deliver a differentiated customer experience, or uncover new business opportunities. They do not understand what’s possible with respect to integrating Big Data into the business model.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they b...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at 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. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at 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. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.