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Infrastructure as a Service Clouds

An IaaS cloud provides abstractions beyond virtualization so that you do not need to learn how to manage them yourself. In fact, when using an IaaS cloud, you normally are not even aware of what virtualization platform is being used. In this case, the cloud service provider is concerned about the virtualization platform; you do not need to worry about it. Figure 1.10 shows some of the main components of an IaaS cloud.

Figure 1.10

Figure 1.10. Basic concepts of an Infrastructure as a Service cloud

The user logs into a self-service user interface that is part of a system called the business support services (BSS). The BSS knows how to charge a user for the resources used, and the self-service user interface enables the user to create and manage resources such as virtual machines, storage, and IP addresses. This gives the user a central location for viewing and managing all resources instead of being left to manage a collection of independent virtualization technologies. A programmatic API also is often provided, to enable automation of resource management for a similar set of capabilities as those of the self-service user interface. The operational support system (OSS) manages a collection of hypervisors and federates other virtualized resources. The end result is that the user can have access to the virtual machine without having to know how it was created.

Additional features of IaaS clouds, such as the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise, are convenient for enterprises. Importantly, the relationship is between the cloud provider and the enterprise. An enterprise contact can thus manage the users, who can create and use resources that the enterprise is paying for. In addition, the work products created by people using the cloud should belong to the enterprise, and the cloud infrastructure should support this.

One of the most interesting aspects of cloud computing is that it enables a new level of tooling and collaboration. It enables reuse of work products, especially images, by teams. For example, an operating system expert can set up a base operating system image, a software developer can add an installation of a software product on top of it, and an enterprise user can make use of the image by taking snapshots suitable for his or her enterprise’s needs. Figure 1.11 shows how a developer can interact with cloud tools to provide assets that an end user can consume.

Figure 1.11

Figure 1.11. Use of development tools in a cloud environment

Business support systems (BSS) are a critical part of the cloud and might be important to your applications if you sell services to customers. Most online systems need a BSS. BSS includes subscriber management, customer management, contract management, catalog management, business partner enablement, metering, and billing. Clearly, BSS is a wider concept than just IaaS. The Apple iPhone AppStore and the Android AppStore are examples of platforms that include a BSS.

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