Microsoft Cloud Authors: Jim Kaskade, Lori MacVittie, Janakiram MSV, Andreas Grabner, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Cloud Security, Government Cloud, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

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...

More Stories By 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.

@ThingsExpo Stories
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
Established in 1998, Calsoft is a leading software product engineering Services Company specializing in Storage, Networking, Virtualization and Cloud business verticals. Calsoft provides End-to-End Product Development, Quality Assurance Sustenance, Solution Engineering and Professional Services expertise to assist customers in achieving their product development and business goals. The company's deep domain knowledge of Storage, Virtualization, Networking and Cloud verticals helps in delivering ...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Arch...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service. 

In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, will discuss the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docke...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this ...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. 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 sett...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
In the next five to ten years, millions, if not billions of things will become smarter. This smartness goes beyond connected things in our homes like the fridge, thermostat and fancy lighting, and into heavily regulated industries including aerospace, pharmaceutical/medical devices and energy. “Smartness” will embed itself within individual products that are part of our daily lives. We will engage with smart products - learning from them, informing them, and communicating with them. Smart produc...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Coalfire will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Coalfire is the trusted leader in cybersecurity risk management and compliance services. Coalfire integrates advisory and technical assessments and recommendations to the corporate directors, executives, boards, and IT organizations for global brands and organizations in the technology, cloud, health...
Cloud based infrastructure deployment is becoming more and more appealing to customers, from Fortune 500 companies to SMEs due to its pay-as-you-go model. Enterprise storage vendors are able to reach out to these customers by integrating in cloud based deployments; this needs adaptability and interoperability of the products confirming to cloud standards such as OpenStack, CloudStack, or Azure. As compared to off the shelf commodity storage, enterprise storages by its reliability, high-availabil...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MathFreeOn will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MathFreeOn is Software as a Service (SaaS) used in Engineering and Math education. Write scripts and solve math problems online. MathFreeOn provides online courses for beginners or amateurs who have difficulties in writing scripts. In accordance with various mathematical topics, there are more tha...
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
We all know the latest numbers: Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from last year, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. We're rapidly approaching a data production of 40 zettabytes a day – more than we can every physically store, and exabytes and yottabytes are just around the corner. For many that’s a good sign, as data has been proven to equal money – IF it’s ingested, integrated, and analyzed fast enough. Without real-tim...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Transparent Cloud Computing (T-Cloud) Consortium will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium (T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data proces...
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Numerex Corp, a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT), will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Numerex Corp. (NASDAQ:NMRX) is a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT). The Company's solutions produce new revenue streams or create operating...