5 Cloud Computing Reference Architecture

For an organization embarking on a Cloud computing journey, is there a blueprint or template that can be reused as a reference to make sense of various elements of Cloud computing? Fortunately the answer is yes. A Reference Framework can be used to organize Cloud computing ideas in a practical structure.

In simple terms, a Reference Framework consists of two elements – a Ref7erence Model and a Reference Architecture. A Reference Architecture provides the decomposition, various views, and best practices of the subject in discussion. Basically it helps us to answer the question, “what is the composition of the subject matter (Cloud computing in this case)? What are the capabilities that Cloud Computing provides?” The Reference Model, on the other hand, explains the concepts and relationships of the various components of the Reference Architecture. Together the Reference Framework helps us to understand any technical subject matter better.

There are various Reference Frameworks available for Cloud Computing. This is because each Reference Framework is built based on the viewpoint of a specific organization or person. A Cloud service provider would define a Reference Framework that may differ significantly from the one defined by a Cloud hardware vendor. There is no strictly mandated standard for defining the Reference Framework. It is left to the judgement of the designing authority to define the framework that best addresses its perspective and needs. However the thumb rule is any Reference Framework designed must be at a high-level and understandable.

There are a number of Cloud Computing Reference Architecture, Models and Frameworks. Everware-CBDI – an innovator in architectures and practices for Cloud, Service and Component based concepts, technologies and techniques – classifies Cloud reference models as one of two styles:

  1. Role-Based: Where activities or capabilities are mapped to roles such as cloud provider oconsumer.
    1. DMTF Cloud Service Reference Architecture
    2. IBM Cloud Computing Reference Architecture
    3. NIST Cloud Computing Reference Architecture
  2. Layer-Based: Where activities or capabilities are mapped to layers in architecture such as application or resource layers or to the service management architecture or security architecture.
    1. Cloud Security Alliance Reference Model is one of many layered models showing the cloud ‘stack’
    2. CISCO Cloud Reference Architecture Framework is an architecture of architecture, placing Cloud on top of layers of Service, Security and Technology architectures
    3. IEFT Cloud Reference Framework goes into more depth, showing the capabilities for each layer.

Everware-CBDI has taken the various elements from these different architectures, models and framework and places them into a generic RF. It consolidated the elements contained across the different reference architectures, models and frameworks for Cloud Computing into a unified framework.

Figure – Cloud Computing Reference Framework

The above Reference Framework can then be mapped to the requirements of the different scenarios. The mapping can be done against either roles or capability streams as shown in the two tables below:











Table – Mapping Process Activities to Roles

1RAEW: Responsibility, Authority, Expertise, Work

Capability Streams







Framework and Process

Lifecycle Infrastructure

Operational Infrastructure


Projects and Programs


Table – Mapping Capabilities to Roles

It is up to the organization adopting the Reference Framework to manage its reuse effectively minimizing the reinvention of the wheel.