Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

IBM Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Rolando Kahn, Carmen Gonzalez, XebiaLabs Blog

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.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IceWarp will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IceWarp, the leader of cloud and on-premise messaging, delivers secured email, chat, documents, conferencing and collaboration to today's mobile workforce, all in one unified interface
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lee Williams, a producer of the first smartphones and tablets, will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater. He will explain how M2M controllers work through wirelessly connected remote controls; and specifically delve into a retrofit option that reverse-engineers control codes of existing conventional controller systems so they don't have to be replaced and are instantly converted to become smart, connected devices.
The Internet of Things is in the early stages of mainstream deployment but it promises to unlock value and rapidly transform how organizations manage, operationalize, and monetize their assets. IoT is a complex structure of hardware, sensors, applications, analytics and devices that need to be able to communicate geographically and across all functions. Once the data is collected from numerous endpoints, the challenge then becomes converting it into actionable insight.
With the proliferation of connected devices underpinning new Internet of Things systems, Brandon Schulz, Director of Luxoft IoT – Retail, will be looking at the transformation of the retail customer experience in brick and mortar stores in his session at @ThingsExpo. Questions he will address include: Will beacons drop to the wayside like QR codes, or be a proximity-based profit driver? How will the customer experience change in stores of all types when everything can be instrumented and analyzed? As an area of investment, how might a retail company move towards an innovation methodolo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Consumer IoT applications provide data about the user that just doesn’t exist in traditional PC or mobile web applications. This rich data, or “context,” enables the highly personalized consumer experiences that characterize many consumer IoT apps. This same data is also providing brands with unprecedented insight into how their connected products are being used, while, at the same time, powering highly targeted engagement and marketing opportunities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nathan Treloar, President and COO of Bebaio, will explore examples of brands transforming their businesses by t...
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevOps to advance innovation and increase agility. Specializing in designing, imple...
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of streaming data in the cloud with an enterprise grade SLA. It features built-in integration with Azur...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Micron Technology, Inc., a global leader in advanced semiconductor systems, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Micron’s broad portfolio of high-performance memory technologies – including DRAM, NAND and NOR Flash – is the basis for solid state drives, modules, multichip packages and other system solutions. Backed by more than 35 years of technology leadership, Micron's memory solutions enable the world's most innovative computing, consumer,...
Contrary to mainstream media attention, the multiple possibilities of how consumer IoT will transform our everyday lives aren’t the only angle of this headline-gaining trend. There’s a huge opportunity for “industrial IoT” and “Smart Cities” to impact the world in the same capacity – especially during critical situations. For example, a community water dam that needs to release water can leverage embedded critical communications logic to alert the appropriate individuals, on the right device, as soon as they are needed to take action.
While many app developers are comfortable building apps for the smartphone, there is a whole new world out there. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Narayan Sainaney, Co-founder and CTO of Mojio, will discuss how the business case for connected car apps is growing and, with open platform companies having already done the heavy lifting, there really is no barrier to entry.
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts, GM of Platform at FinancialForce.com, will discuss the value of business applications on wearable ...
As more intelligent IoT applications shift into gear, they’re merging into the ever-increasing traffic flow of the Internet. It won’t be long before we experience bottlenecks, as IoT traffic peaks during rush hours. Organizations that are unprepared will find themselves by the side of the road unable to cross back into the fast lane. As billions of new devices begin to communicate and exchange data – will your infrastructure be scalable enough to handle this new interconnected world?
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is about the digitization of physical assets including sensors, devices, machines, gateways, and the network. It creates possibilities for significant value creation and new revenue generating business models via data democratization and ubiquitous analytics across IoT networks. The explosion of data in all forms in IoT requires a more robust and broader lens in order to enable smarter timely actions and better outcomes. Business operations become the key driver of IoT applications and projects. Business operations, IT, and data scientists need advanced analytics t...
Akana has announced the availability of the new Akana Healthcare Solution. The API-driven solution helps healthcare organizations accelerate their transition to being secure, digitally interoperable businesses. It leverages the Health Level Seven International Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7 FHIR) standard to enable broader business use of medical data. Akana developed the Healthcare Solution in response to healthcare businesses that want to increase electronic, multi-device access to health records while reducing operating costs and complying with government regulations.
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.