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Cloud Computing Service Models
A look at the three different service models for cloud computing as defined by NIST

In this post I will look at the three different service models for cloud computing as defined by NIST. More specifically I will look at the management and operations overhead for each one of the models and compare it to the traditional on-premise model.

Traditional Model

Let's look at how things have been done in the past. Traditionally enterprises have been responsible for managing their own IT infrastructure as well as the software stack that runs their applications. For small companies that meant hiring polyglot employees with wide range of skills varying from low level networking to high level application support. For larger ones, that can afford more staff, it meant creating specialized teams responsible for only networking infrastructure, or only storage or servers and virtualization. However for lot of those enterprises the core business has never been managing IT infrastructure - the only thing they are interested in is to manage their line-of-business (LOB) apps.

Cloud Service Models

Here are just some of the tasks IT teams enterprises have been required to do in the past:

  • Build racks with servers and wire them into the network
  • Build storage arrays and wire them into the network
  • Configure routers
  • Configure firewalls and DMZ zones
  • Install operating system software on the servers
  • Create virtual machines (if virtualization is utilized)
  • Install operating system software on the virtual machines
  • Install databases, set up replication and backups
  • Install middleware used for hosting the application code
  • Patch and update operating system software
  • Patch and update databases
  • Patch and update middleware
  • Patch and update runtime
  • Install application software
  • Patch and update application software

Although long this is by no mean the complete list of tasks that IT personnel has been responsible for. From the list above only the last two (install application software and update application software) have been essential to the core business of the enterprise. In addition to the IT operational costs (OpEx) enterprises also incurred significant capital expenditures (CapEx) used to procure the necessary hardware.

More than a decade ago hosting providers recognized the need to help businesses with those tasks and allowed them to outsource the build-up of infrastructure, and concentrate on just managing their applications. Although hosting providers helped enterprises with OpEx and CapEx they still lacked some of the essential cloud characteristics like on-demand self-service, rapid elasticity and measured service as outlined in Essential Cloud Computing Characteristics.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Model
IaaS model was the first model that complies with NIST cloud computing characteristics. In essence it offers cloud computing environment consisting of virtual machines. It offers self-service portal where you can on-demand start a virtual machine with preferred operating system, it is broadly accessible, elastic (you can easily start identical virtual machine or shut down exiting one), it uses pool of virtual machines that are collocated on common hardware, and at the end it measures your usage of those virtual machines.

If you look at the picture above you will see that the IaaS model provides automation in the lower layers (up to the virtualization layer) of the application stack. What that means is that tasks like starting the virtual machine, adding it to the network, configuring the routing and the firewalls and attaching storage to it is automatically done by the automation software. The vendor that provides the service is also responsible for managing any hardware failures and service the underlying hardware.

As you have already noticed the IaaS model provides cloud services up to the virtualization layer of the application stack. However as a consumer of the IaaS service you are still responsible for managing the virtual machine. Hence you are still responsible for patching and updating the operating system on the VM, installing and maintaining any databases or middleware that your application uses in addition to maintaining your actual application.

IaaS is very similar to the traditional hosting model with the added benefits of self-service, elasticity and metering.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) Model
With PaaS you have much less things to worry about. As you can see from the picture the whole stack needed for your application is managed by the vendor. Your only responsibilities are your application and the data your application uses. In addition to the tasks managed in IaaS case the vendor (or in the case of private PaaS the platform owner) is also responsible for patching and updating the operating system, installing and maintaining the middleware as well as the runtime your application uses.

One important thing that you need to be aware of when using PaaS is that the automatic updates the vendor does may sometimes have negative impact on your application. Why is that? Very often OS and middleware vendors do incompatible changes between versions of their software. If your application depends on any underlying OS and middleware functionality it may break between platform updates. And because you are not in control of those updates you may end up with your application being down.

The premise of PaaS though is not only to offer maintenance free application stack but also additional services that you can utilize in your application. Very often PaaS providers are exposing middleware and databases as services and abstract the connectivity to those through APIs in order to free up developers from the need to locate the actual systems. Additional services can be authentication and authorization, video encoding, location based services etc. Using the PaaS services will allow you to abstract your applications from the underlying stack and as long as the APIs are kept intact it will be protected from failures between platform updates.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Model
SaaS is the model with the highest abstraction and offers the most maintenance free option. As a SaaS consumer you are just using the software offered by the vendor. As depicted on the picture the whole stack is maintained by the vendor. This includes also updates for the application as well as application data management. SaaS model is very similar to the off-the-shelf software model where you go and buy the CD, install the software and start using it.

Traditionally one of the hardest problems application developers had to deal with was the data migration between different versions. SaaS vendors are also responsible for migrating your data and keeping it consistent. Similar to the off-the-shelf software model you can rely that you can access and read your data once you upgrade to a new version.

The SaaS model is the most resource-efficient model because it utilizes application multi-tenancy. What this means is that the same application instance handles multiple user-organizations. This is good for both the vendor and the customer because better resource utilization brings the maintenance costs down and hence the price for the services down. On the other side though tenant data is comingled and there is the security risk of one tenant accidentally getting access to another tenant's data.

Although not exhaustive the cloud computing service models explanation above should be enough to kick-start your initial discussion about your cloud strategy.

Read the original blog entry...

About Toddy Mladenov

Toddy Mladenov has more than 15 years experience in software development and technology consulting at companies like Microsoft, SAP and 3Com. Currently he is a CTO of Agitare Technologies, Inc. - a boutique consulting company that specializes in Cloud Computing and Big Data Solutions. Before Agitare Tech Toddy spent few years with PaaS startup Apprenda and more than six years working on Microsft's cloud computing platform Windows Azure, Windows Client and MSN/Windows Live. During his career at Microsoft he managed different aspects of the software development process for Windows Azure and Windows Services. He also evangelized Microsoft cloud services among open source communities like PHP and Java. In the past he developed enterprise software for German's software giant SAP and several startups in Europe, and managed the technical sales for 3Com in the Balkan region.

With his broad industry experience, international background and end-user point of view Toddy has an unique approach towards technology. He believes that technology should be develop to improve people's lives and is eager to share his knowledge in topics like cloud computing, mobile and web development.



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Cloud Expo - Cloud Looms Large on SYS-CON.TV


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New York City Expo Floor Plan Revealed
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Introducing Big Data Expo
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There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Get a jump on that rapidly evolving trend at Big Data Expo, which we are introducing in June at
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Cloud Expo was a fantastic event for CSS Corp - we easily exceeded our objectives for engaging with clients and prospects."
AHMAR ABBAS
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With our launch at Cloud Expo, we successfully transformed the company from a relatively unknown European player into the dominant player in the market. Our competitors were taken by surprise and just blown away. We got a huge number of really high quality leads..."
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We were extremely pleased with Cloud Expo this year - I’d say it exceeded expectations all around. This is the same info we got from partners who attended as well. Nice job!"
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@CloudExpo Blogs
How effective is your organization at leveraging data and analytics to power the business? This is the question that we pose at the beginning of our client conversations. Gaining intimate insights about your customer, product, and operational behaviors, tendencies, trends and propensities is critical if organizations want to drive digital business transformation; optimizing key business processes, uncovering new monetization opportunities and creating a more compelling customer experience.
This digest provides an overview of good resources that are well worth reading. We’ll be updating this page as new content becomes available, so I suggest you bookmark it. Also, expect more digests to come on different topics that make all of our IT-hearts go boom!
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Yes, Lori has been reading the Internet again. And what she’s been seeing makes baby Lori angry. It also makes this former test designer and technology editor cry. Really, I weep at both the excuses offered for such testing and the misleading headline. I have read no less than two contrived comparisons of “HTTPS” and “HTTP” in the last two weeks purporting to demonstrate that secure HTTP is inarguably faster than its plaintext counterpart, HTTP.
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
Today is another exciting day as an Evangelist to a Big Data company, because I love me some data and I love making it accessible to everyone. I got it in my head that I wanted to take my other “how to”, start to finish, make it easy for everyone approach to analytics, and build something that would do the same for people interested in IoT. So I went ahead and started on my IoT journey today in the way I figured it was best. I bought a bunch of sensors and components and a Raspberry Pi (R-Pi) 3, yes I am turning into a hipster nerd. I had asked around to some folks I knew were doing cool R-Pi ...
Cloud Expo 2016 New York at the Javits Center New York was characterized by increased attendance and a new focus on operations. These were both encouraging signs for all involved in Cloud Computing and all that it touches. As Conference Chair, I work with the Cloud Expo team to structure three keynotes, numerous general sessions, and more than 150 breakout sessions along 10 tracks. Our job is to balance the state of enterprise IT today with the trends that will be commonplace tomorrow. Mobile Computing, Big Data and Analytics, the Internet of Things, Platforms and Microservices and Containe...
The future of data centers looks very exciting. Data Centers are turning out to be increasingly important in today's connected world as we can store and process a lot of consumer and commercial data. Data centers seem to be either becoming huge or very small. In general, marketing cloud storage and cloud computing services are likely to increase the profit margins and favor the large players. There is an increasing need for superior Data center competence as we are more dependent on cloud-based applications and huge Data center services.
Digital Transformation is the process of transforming a business from one state to another - from a state where businesses operate in Human time, to a state that operates in Digital time and finally to Future time. Businesses today must digitally transform in order to compete in all three of these time continuums simultaneously. Let's first identify these different time continuums.
Those that lead are able to collect and analyze data that followers can't. Think about the first climber to reach the top of the mountain, they have a new and different view slower followers don't. If you believe, as I do, that understanding data is the secret sauce of the digitally transformed enterprise, then having data not available to your competitors is a treasure! Those that achieve digital transformation before their competitors will have advantages - and advantages have advantages. Not only do they have new experiences and new data to analyze and understand, they are able to develo...
Throughout history, various leaders have risen up and tried to unify the world by conquest. Fortunately, none of their plans have succeeded. The world goes on just fine with each country ruling itself; no single ruler is necessary. That’s how it is with the container platform ecosystem, as well. There’s no need for one all-powerful, all-encompassing container platform. Think about any other technology sector out there – there are always multiple solutions in every space. The same goes for container technology. When you create something that is super scalable, the drawback is that it’s not goi...
Welcome to the latest installment in the battle of two tech titans. Last week Alphabet announced that Nest is being merged into Google. See Fortune’s summary: Google Will Absorb Nest Developers. This is the denouement to the saga that started in April, tied to infighting between the Google and Nest teams. I dissected this “silo-itis” in Why #Nest is Down, #Amazon Up, in #IoT for the #Connected Home. Now some unsurprising new developments since Tony Fadell, the CEO of Nest, resigned in June. Here’s what Google is trying to achieve by “re-absorbing” the troubled Nest group.
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Past SYS-CON Events
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
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    Cloud Expo East
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    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
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    Virtualization Expo West
virtualization
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    Cloud Expo Europe
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    Virtualization Expo East
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    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2009west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualizationconference
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    GovIT Expo
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Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

Butte
PwC

Leone
Oracle

Riley
AWS

Varia
AWS

Lye
Oracle

O'Connor
AppZero

Crandell
RightScale

Nucci
Dell Boomi

Hillier
CiRBA

Morrison
Layer 7 Tech

Robbins
NYT

Schwarz
Oracle

What The Enterprise IT World Says About Cloud Expo
 
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  –William Toll
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Navisite
 


 
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Chief Scientist
Univa UD
 


 
"Good crowd, good questions. The event looked very successful."
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CTO
Citrix Systems
 


 
"It's the largest cloud computing conference I've ever seen."
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CTO
Brick Group