Cloud computing and management principles: what to look for?

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IBM CCRA – Cloud Computing Reference Architecture

So much is being discussed in the cloud computing arena, from implementation strategy to product functionality, and yet even though there are a number of reference frameworks, little is said about architectural patterns or industry practices when it comes to cloud computing.

When it comes to cloud computing one has to dismiss the hype and ensure the model brings business returns. Obviously you can make an informed decision on what is available and what are the tradeoffs and what works for your organization. One way to address this is to look at the existing cloud computing architecture frameworks and integrate it with your existing infrastructure, catalogue of solutions and line of business.

Where am I to identify the applicable architectural principles for the strategy, the design and the implementation of a cloud? What are the steps to be undertaken and how the different pieces do articulate with each other to achieve a less risky and cost effective implementation?

Among the many architectural models to consider such as that from the DTMF Cloud Service Reference Architecture, IBM has proposed its Cloud Computing Reference Architecture (CCRA), a framework that has been submitted to the Open Group so as to assist in providing best practices and establishing standards and policies. Some of the available frameworks have identical aspects; this should be a positive step in the right direction of avoiding vendor lock-in.

At the onset of your cloud initiatives are the strategy and architecture design that would keep you away from the many pitfalls on your cloud journey. The CCRA provides you with the building blocks making the cloud and how to go about managing it.

This framework, based on actual cloud engagements, provides best practices as well as the patterns adopted during these engagements and will serve as an adoption model to lower risks and costs.

Below is a high level depiction of the different architectural elements. For further details please do refer to the IBM Cloud Computing Reference Architecture document V. 2.0 available online.

The purpose of the IBM CCRA is to provide a design blueprint for:

  • Cloud services, offered to customers
  • Private, public or hybrid cloud projects
  • Workload-optimized systems
  • Enabling the management of multiple cloud services (across all the as-a-service processes including infrastructure, platform, software, and business) based on the same, common management platform for enabling economies of scale.

What framework to adopt?

Regardless of the framework you will be adopting, one has to keep in mind that placing focus on the technology which is not an end in itself and not your business requirements, and expecting the cloud framework to deliver on the cloud mantra would be a risky assumption.

Your framework adoption will certainly bring benefits if you were to focus on your end goal and how a particular aspect of the cloud fits into your business. Questions will remain as to what cloud type, service model, offering and architecture to integrate into your existing environment. This will ensure you are focusing on the existing requirements and your particular environment rather than implementing a new paradigm that will fail to integrate into your business.

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