IBM CCRA release 3.0 – How does it affect me?

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The IBM Cloud Computing Reference Architecture (CCRA) has been thoroughly written about in several blog posts on as well as an excellent whitepaper available on the Internet. This reference architecture has also been submitted to the OpenGroup in its release 2.0. Recently, release 3.0 was presented to the cloud community within IBM, and it presents some good advances compared to earlier versions. In this article I will present my first impressions on the CCRA 3.0 and what it can help me with in my daily work on cloud solutions.

Background – Previous versions of CCRA

Since the first release of CCRA in March 2010 (it was then called something else), there has been a lot of work and effort in the further development and evolution of the architecture into the mature and solid version that is now available.

Figure 1: Evolution of CCRA

As demonstrated in Figure 1, The CCRA has gone through multiple evolutions since the inception, and the current version as added product and integration focused solution architecture to the architectural foundation introduced in the previous versions. This gives the CCRA two approaches:

  • A solution based view: This view allows the practitioners to focus on delivering a solution to the customer with what they need to consider based on the adoption pattern.  This view is new in this release of the CCRA.
  • An academic view: This view allows for the architects to see the broader picture of a cloud implementation with all aspects of the architecture in place. It is important for architects to understand this view when working with the clients before an adoption pattern has been identified. This view is the view of the CCRA that was available in the previous versions (and still is there today).

What is new in CCRA 3.0?

In CCRA 3.0 the concept of adoption patterns has been introduced.  This is a concept that orients the CCRA towards the use that we see in customer engagements, and the IBM offerings that comprise our cloud portfolio.

Figure 2: Adoption patterns

The four patterns identified are:

  • Cloud Enabled Data Center (CEDC): This is the adoption pattern where the organization adopting cloud computing is seeking to reduce the cost and complexities relating to their IT services. In most cases this adoption pattern is embodied in the IaaS delivery model.
  • Cloud Platform Services: This is the adoption pattern where the organization adopting the pattern is seeking a higher value from their cloud services while still seeking the generality that it can provide. This pattern allows for a faster time to market by leveraging the standardization and elasticity of the cloud. The predominant delivery model in this pattern is the PaaS.
  • Cloud Service Provider: This is the adoption pattern where organizations wanting to provide cloud services as an integral part of their business fit in. The delivery model in this case is that of Public XaaS providers.
  • Business Solutions on the cloud: this is the pattern where the organization provides a cloud service that can be consumed for a specific business purpose. The predominant delivery models in this pattern are SaaS and BPaaS.

The adoption patterns are illustrated in Figure 2.

In the reference architecture, the adoption patterns are incorporated in four different macro patterns that correspond to the patterns described above. In each of these macro patterns, the “pre-CCRA 3.0” content has been adapted to include the relevant elements for the pattern. This is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Adoption patterns in CCRA 3.0

For each of the macro patterns in CCRA, there are a large set of work-products and methods that helps the quick use of the pattern, which is in line with the design principles of the reference architecture. These patterns also have guidance on what products and features can be used for an even faster time to design a solution.

How can it help me?

The micro-pattern approach helps you in multiple ways:

  • It helps you quickly identify the capabilities, work-products needed for the adoption pattern identified for the customer. This allows you to focus your work in the areas that have the largest impact on your design, and spend less time on the elements that are not necessarily relevant to the problem at hand.
  • The patterns have a recommended set of products that will help you identify IBM branded products that fit together and solve the problem for the customer. It also provides a certain level of guidance on which products work well together to provide one or more capabilities.


The CCRA has come a long way since the first releases several years ago. In previous releases the CCRA was a very academic work, and with release 2.5 in early 2012 work started on making it more useable for the practitioners.  Version 3.0 has taken this practical approach to new heights with the adoption patterns. I believe that the practitioners will find this approach very useful in their day-to-day work with the CCRA.

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