Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Zakia Bouachraoui, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, IBM Cloud

@CloudExpo: Article

Reference Architecture for Cloud Computing

IBM releases second version of its cloud reference architecture

Admittedly, when I was heads-down in code earlier in my career, I did not pay much attention to reference architectures. We had our own internal architectures that served as ‘the way and the truth', and reference architectures for our product or solution domain were simply out of scope.  Anyway, reference architectures are, by design, not detailed enough to steer someone implementing one out of hundreds of components that will fall under said architectures. So, for the most part I ignored them, even though I could hear rumblings coming from rooms full of folks arguing over revision 25 of the reference architecture for some problem domain or another.

Fast forward a few years to a change of professional venue, and my outlook on reference architectures is a good deal different. If I were still developing, I'm sure my outlook would be much the same. However, talking with users on a frequent basis has made me aware that such architectures and solution domain overviews can be of great value to both buyers and providers. For buyers, reference architectures can help to orient them in a particular domain, and they can guide implementation and buying strategies. For providers, reference architectures serve to clearly communicate their outlook on a particular domain to both the buyers and broader market. Put simply, reference architectures serve both sides of the coin.

Now that's not to say that reference architectures come without their detractors. There are always those that stand ready to point out holes and biases in a particular provider's reference architecture. In fact, some seem to completely write off reference architectures as an instrument of marketing. In my opinion, some of these complaints are without merit and a bit overly cynical. Other complaints rise above typical inter-vendor sniping and actually point out valid holes, oversights, and biases with a particular provider's architecture. Open discourse and communication is good. In that light, I was glad to see IBM publish the second version of its cloud computing reference architecture to the Open Group earlier this week.

The document, which you can download here, explains the reference architecture in detail, but I want to look at the major highlights. To start, let's consider the high-level diagram for the architecture:

As you can see, the architecture orients itself around user roles for cloud computing. On either end, you have the cloud service creator and cloud service consumer. As its name implies, the cloud service creator role includes any type of cloud service creation tools. These tools include software development environments, virtual image development tools, process choreographing solutions, and anything else a developer may use to create services for the cloud.

On the other side of the architecture, the cloud service consumer comes into focus. As you well know, in a cloud environment there are many potential service consumers. The architecture above accounts for in-house IT as well as cloud service integration tools as consumers. There are countless more, but just with these you can begin to appreciate the challenge of effectively enabling the ‘consumer.' This requires self-service portals, service catalogs, automation capability, federated security, federated connectivity, and more. It is certainly no small task.

Finally, in the middle of the diagram, we have perhaps the most complex role, the cloud service provider. This section builds on top of a shared, usually virtualized infrastructure to address two basic facets for providers: services and service management. From a services perspective, we see the trinity of the cloud (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS), with an added wrinkle, Business Process as a Service. As the diagram acknowledges, existing services and partner services will nearly always augment these services, thereby implying the need for tools that provide both functional and non-functional integration capabilities.

Opposite the services, we see the common management framework that divides into two major categories: Operational Support Services (OSS) and Business Support Services (BSS). Naturally, the OSS accounts for those capabilities that a provider needs to effectively operate a cloud environment. This includes provisioning, monitoring, license management, service lifecycle management, and a slew of other considerations. BSS outlines the capabilities providers need to support the business requirements of cloud, and this includes pricing, metering, billing, order management, order fulfillment, and more.

Of course, there are non-functional requirements that span all three roles including security, performance, resiliency, consumability, and governance. Thus, these wrap the three major roles in the reference architecture shown above.

I know there will be some that disagree with certain elements of this reference architecture, but that is good and healthy. For those that have strong opinions on this subject (one way or another), I encourage you to get involved. That is the benefit of this being in the Open Group. You can download the reference architecture, review it at your leisure, and then discuss and influence change via the mailing list discussion. In other words, speak up!

More Stories By Dustin Amrhein

Dustin Amrhein joined IBM as a member of the development team for WebSphere Application Server. While in that position, he worked on the development of Web services infrastructure and Web services programming models. In his current role, Dustin is a technical specialist for cloud, mobile, and data grid technology in IBM's WebSphere portfolio. He blogs at http://dustinamrhein.ulitzer.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/damrhein.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Machine learning has taken residence at our cities' cores and now we can finally have "smart cities." Cities are a collection of buildings made to provide the structure and safety necessary for people to function, create and survive. Buildings are a pool of ever-changing performance data from large automated systems such as heating and cooling to the people that live and work within them. Through machine learning, buildings can optimize performance, reduce costs, and improve occupant comfort by ...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Early Bird Registration Discount Expires on August 31, 2018 Conference Registration Link ▸ HERE. Pick from all 200 sessions in all 10 tracks, plus 22 Keynotes & General Sessions! Lunch is served two days. EXPIRES AUGUST 31, 2018. Ticket prices: ($1,295-Aug 31) ($1,495-Oct 31) ($1,995-Nov 12) ($2,500-Walk-in)
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...