On the Next Generations of Infrastructure-as-a-Services
Dana Petcu
, Maria Fazio
, Radu Prodan
, Zhiming Zhao
and Massimiliano Rak
Institute e-Austria and Computer Science Department, West University of Timis¸ oara, 4 V. P
arvan, Timis¸oara, Romania
Dicieama Department, University of Messina, 98166 Sant Agata, Messina, Italy
Institute for Computer Science, University of Innsbruck, 21a Technikerstrasse, Innsbruck, Austria
System and Network Engineering, University of Amsterdam, 904 Science Park, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Department of Industrial Engineering and Information, Second University of Naples, 29 Sede di via Roma, Aversa, Italy
Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Surveys, Previsions.
Following the wide adoption by industry of the cloud computing technologies, we can talk about a second
generation of cloud services and products that are currently under design phase. However, it is not yet clear
how the third generation of cloud products and services of the next decade will look like, especially at the
delivery level of Infrastructure-as-a-Service. In order to answer at least partially to such a challenging question,
we initiated a literature overview and two surveys involving the members of a cluster of European research
and innovation actions. The results are interpreted in this paper and a set of topics of interest for the third
generation are identified.
After a decade in which cloud computing has domi-
nated the interest of the communities involved in dis-
tributed systems, we ask ourself what can bring more
this paradigm in the next decade.
The first generation of cloud computing products,
following the stages of technology triggers, peaks of
inflated expectations, as well as through of disillu-
sionment, is based on the concept of centralized pool
of services, the expectation that one-size-fits-all, and
intensive use of virtualization technologies. The de-
velopment focus was put on building the proper tools
to offer the provider-side service management at costs
affordable by their clients.
Triggered by various factors, like user’s special re-
quirements, integration with other technologies, con-
cerns like vendor-lock-in, interoperability or security,
we assist nowadays to the raise of a second-generation
of more mature cloud services, technologies and pro-
ducts. This generation is characterized by a go-to
model for enterprises, born-in-the-cloud applications,
decentralization tendencies, integration with Internet
of Things, Big Data or mobile technologies, user-
driven, software-defined or energy-efficient service
management and orchestration, and even the shrink-
ing or dissolution of the virtual machines with the up-
rise of containers or unikernels. We look forward to
see what the third generation of Cloud products will
bring out-of-the-box, as well when the user adoption
and acceptance is world-wide spread so that the cloud
can be declared ubiquitous. However, the research ac-
tivities that are supporting the new generation should
start today and challenges in front should be identi-
fied as soon as possible. This paper is aligned to this
desire. It is trying to provide a peek into a possible
version of the future, by following the opinions of the
specialists working currently in research activities re-
lated to Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). The result
is a list of topics of interest for future research.
The paper is organized as follows. The next sec-
tion describes the methodology that was used. Sec-
tion 3 discusses several topics that are currently on
the research desks. Section 4 issues some hypothesis
about the topics of interest for the third generation.
Conclusions can be found in the last section.
The sources of information and the methodology used
in this paper to elaborate on future research directions
are discussed on what follows.
Sources of Information and Stages. In a first
stage of the study we have have appealed to the fol-
Petcu, D., Fazio, M., Prodan, R., Zhao, Z. and Rak, M.
On the Next Generations of Infrastructure-as-a-Services.
In Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Cloud Computing and Services Science (CLOSER 2016) - Volume 1, pages 320-326
ISBN: 978-989-758-182-3
2016 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
lowing sources: (1) research papers indexed in Sci-
enceDirect and IEEE Xplore catalogs from the pe-
riod 2014-2016 which are identifying challenges and
open issues related to the evolution of IaaS; (2) cloud-
related blogs and news provided by cloud service
owners or industry-related journals; (3) the text of the
most recent call for research and innovation actions in
the field of cloud computing (European Commission,
2015), in the frame of H2020-ICT, as result of a long
process of specialists and decision-makers consulta-
tions; plus, occurrences of its keywords in SCOPUS
catalog of scientific articles and in the searches done
using Google Trends. The result is a list of topics
related to IaaS supposed to reflect the present, near
future and far future activities in the field.
In a second stage, the opinion of the specialists
involved in 20 actions
partially funded be the Eu-
ropean Commission in the frame of FP7-ICT, CIP
and H2020-ICT programmes was requested. Their
research subjects are varying from heterogeneous
clouds or DevOps for multiple clouds, virtualization
technologies or security in clouds to IoT-cloud inte-
gration, cloud-based Big Data, or mobile cloud. Two
surveys were pursued respectively in October and
November 2015, to identify the followings: (1) the
on-going research activities that are expected to sup-
port the second generation services (with 16 contribu-
tors, 62% from academia and 38% from entreprises);
(2) the foreseen research challenges in front of the
third generation services (with 42 contributors, from
which 20% developers, 24% software architects, 81%
researchers, 27% managers). The results are pre-
sented in two on-line documents available on the web
site (InfraCluster, 2015). In this paper, we are com-
menting, linking and interpreting further the results.
Complementarity with other Studies. A com-
plementary set of topics for future research was iden-
tified by (Jeferry et al., 2015) under the title of tech-
nological challenges and goals for the evolution of
cloud services and environments. The considered ap-
proach is different from ours as it starts from a number
of application scenarios for which the requirements
cannot be met by current cloud technologies, but can
drive the evolution of future cloud technologies. The
AppHub: apphub.eu.com, ARCADIA: arcadia-
framework.eu, BEACON: beacon-project.eu, CloudLight-
ning: loudlightning.eu, CloudSpaces:/cloudspaces.eu,
ClouT: clout-project.eu, CloudWave: cloudwave-fp7.eu,
DICE: dice-h2020.eu, ENTICE: entice-project.eu, iiKaaS:
www.ikaas.com, INPUT: input-project.eu, IOStack:
iostack.eu, MCN: mobile-cloud-networking.eu, MIKE-
LANGELO: mikelangelo-project.eu, Mo-Bizz: mobizz-
project.eu, MODAClouds: modaclouds.eu, MUSA:
musa-project.eu, RAPID: rapid-project.eu, SPECS:
specs-project.eu, SWITCH: switch-project.eu
identified scenarios are referring to: joint collabora-
tive business intelligence platforms with multiple data
sources; born-digital data interoperability through se-
mantic technologies; awareness of the application
characteristics enabling the infrastructure to provide
resources that accommodate the requirements that are
evolving during runtime; model-driven integration in
cloud IDEs; joint application and infrastructure con-
trollability; quality-of-service/experience-critical ap-
plications on the cloud; adaptable parametric applica-
tions; generic application templates.
The industry decision makers are trying also to
figure out where cloud computing is going in the near
future. Articles like (Yousif et al., 2014) are reflec-
ting very well the main current concerns that should
be remove in the near future (again a different ap-
proach from that of the current paper). The present
is driven by the requirements like: single catalog or
service-management interfaces allowing smooth tran-
sitions between clouds; systems of engagements for
agile type of application and application develop-
ment; short development cycles and continuous deli-
very model (DevOps); compliance, security, and con-
trol measures; spanning from customer premises to
the public cloud (including hybrid cloud). The line
between the infrastructure and the application is ex-
pected to blur, as the line between development and
quality assurance and operations, as well as the line
between compute, networking, and storage.
We will try in what follows to not touch the sub-
jects already tackled by the above two cited studies.
We focus in this section on the expectations of the
second generation in terms ranging from challenges
to be solved to technologies under use.
Integration Challenges. Examining the recent
research reports, we observed that a large number
of activities are focusing on the integration of cloud
computing with other technologies. We are pointing
here towards several surveys on challenges.
Vertical Tailored for Specific Industry. The paper
(James and Chung, 2015) is revealing a new direction
currently followed by cloud service providers to tai-
lor their services specifically for their customer and
their industrial needs. The main challenges are re-
lated to the provision of tailored solution to various
levels, from infrastructure services, growth patterns,
or software functionality, to privacy and security, as
well as to follow the requirement to interoperate with
third party community tools.
On the Next Generations of Infrastructure-as-a-Services
CloudIoT Paradigm. Cloud and IoT are merged
together enabling a large number of application sce-
narios (Botta et al., 2016). Several new services are
added to the infrastructure level: Things, Sensing,
Sensing and Actuation, Sensor Event, Sensor, Video
Surveillance -as-a-Service. The main challenges are
related to privacy, legal and social aspects, large scale,
security, reliability, performance, heterogeneity. The
problems to be solved are referring to identification,
addressing, naming, environmental context-based ser-
vices, large scale support for multi-networking, flexi-
ble mechanisms for logically isolated network parti-
tions. convergence to a common open service plat-
form environment to develop applications.
Cloud Providing Capabilities for Big Data. Sev-
eral recent surveys are analyzing the approaches, en-
vironments, and technologies on areas that are key to
Big Data analytics capabilities and discuss how they
help building analytics solutions on clouds. In par-
ticular (Assuno et al., 2015) focuses on technical is-
sues of enabling cloud analytics and indicates a set of
gaps and recommendations on future research direc-
tions on cloud-supported Big Data.
Mobile Cloud Computing. Migrating an applica-
tion processing to the cloud data centers enables the
execution of resource-intensive applications on the
mobile devices. However, the resource-intensive mi-
gration approaches and the limitations of the wire-
less medium hinders the applications from attaining
optimal performance in the cloud. Executing the
application with low cost, minimal overhead, and
non-obtrusive migration is a challenge. The paper
(Ahmed et al., 2015) presents the state-of-the-art of
mobile application execution frameworks and dis-
cuss the optimization strategies facilitating effective
design, efficient deployment, or application migra-
tion with optimal performance. The identified chal-
lenges are referring to: optimal application and execu-
tion framework design, efficient deployment and user-
transparent execution, real time optimized manage-
ment of heterogeneous environments, automated ser-
vice provisioning, scalability, availability of services.
Secure the Cloud. The latest surveys, e.g. (Ali
et al., 2015) or (Tari et al., 2015), presents recent
solutions reported in the literature to overcome the
security issues. In particular, the latter explores the
challenges of cloud security, with a special focus on
data utilization management aspects, including data
storage, data analytics, and access control.
Cloud Networking. The functional problems as-
sociated with the evolution of cloud computing from
the network perspective are revealed in (Moura and
Hutchison, 2016). If the application could inform the
providers how its traffic should be treated, an applica-
tion performance improvement would be possible.
User-driven Cloud Service Management. The pa-
per (Rehman et al., 2015) presents a comprehensive
discussion on the existing approaches to cloud ser-
vice management, and evaluates them against the fac-
tors required for the user to manage the cloud ser-
vice. While more automation for load management
and moving workloads around are achieved, under-
standing and controlling what is going-on gains in im-
portance (Yousif et al., 2014). Quality metrics are re-
defined from an user perspective; for example (Nabi
et al., 2016) surveys the current mechanisms and me-
trics for availability and found that most solutions do
not provide protection against application failures.
Decentralized Models for Clouds. The paper
(Khan et al., 2015) studies alternative models of cloud
computing, like the community clouds at the edge,
volunteer-, edge-, social- or mobile-cloud computing.
The requirements for a community cloud system are
related to autonomy, security, self-management, ease
of use, social and economic mechanisms, support for
heterogeneity, standard middleware interfaces.
Software-defined Environment. It enables the abs-
traction from the infrastructure, making the infras-
tructure programmable. It is the main driver for cloud
automation. OpenStack is a central element to this
concept, according (Yousif et al., 2014).
Energy-aware Services. The paper (Mastelic and
Brandic, 2015) surveys the current energy-efficiency
approaches, challenges, and future directions.
Research Topics of Interest for the Near Fu-
ture. Taking into account that the key-words/phrases
of the next call for actions exposed by in the workpro-
gramme H2020-ICT (European Commission, 2015)
are the results of several rounds of involved commu-
nities’ consultancy, we consider them in this paper as
buzzwords for the research activities to be performed
in the near future, and, consequently, representative
for the second generation of products.
We estimate the volume of the activities around
these buzzwords as follows: (a) to reflect the current
interest, the volume of searches reported by Google
Trends using the keywords; (b) to reflect the solutions
already available, the volume of result reports regis-
tered in SCOPUS and related to the keywords; (c) to
reflect the incoming solutions, the on-going activities
related to the keywords in the cluster of projects men-
tioned earlier. The results are normalized relative to
the highest number of hits/values, in order to express
a relative importance provided to certain topics.
Figure 1 provides a graphical representation of the
result. Perfect match between the three percents as-
sociated with a key-word/phrase is not encountered,
as the subjects for the on-going research activities
CLOSER 2016 - 6th International Conference on Cloud Computing and Services Science
Figure 1: Interest in the current topics following the key-
words: in SCOPUS (work already done by researchers); in
Google Trends (interest for the future of a large commu-
nity); in the cluster of projects (on-going work).
Figure 2: Percents of respondents who are positioning the
selected topics in the present (green and magenta).
are evolving compared with the previous ones and do
not match exactly the hot topics depicted by peaks in
search volumes (subjects for the next generation).
Current technologies. Following the second sur-
vey, Figure 2 is pointing towards several subjects of
current research interest that are foreseen to lead to
second generation products in near future.
Containers. Are used for application distribution,
cost effectiveness, security and portability. It is ex-
pected to generate a new focus on automation tools,
including the interest to provide automated compo-
nent portability based on pre-defined criteria. The
main expectation is to reduce complexity by using
container abstractions.
Continuous Development of Cloud-ready Appli-
cations. While the rapid development, agile or Dev-
Ops are now standard procedures, continuous appli-
cation development is an emerging trend. It involves
the constantly move of new releases into production,
while each iteration of an application is staged for
deployment once testing is completed. The steps in
the process are usually small and the iterations move
Table 1: Most used tools and standards.
Tools % Standards %
OpenStack 92.86 CloudML 28.57
KVM 50.00 TOSCA 21.43
Chef 42.86 Openflow 21.43
Docker 35.71 WS-Agreement 21.43
VMWare 21.43 OCCI 14.29
Eucalyptus 21.43 OVF 14.29
Puppet 21.43 ETSI GAL 14.29
through the development pipeline quickly. Therefore
the model accelerates the overall development pro-
cess and improves efficiency.
Web-powered Applications. Developing cloud-
based applications compatible with multiple plat-
forms is becoming a must. With new initiatives for
Internet protocols and scripting, the Internet becomes
the main platform for these applications.
Fat Cloud Server. Infrastructure services are
reshaped to support servers allowing larger instan-
ces or more virtual machines per server, in-memory
database instances or remote direct access memory.
BYOD. The flexibility demanded by the mobile
workforce is the main reason for the integration be-
tween the personal cloud services for the companies
employees in a Bring your own device (BYOD) en-
vironment. End users are currently using mobile de-
vices to put their data into personal cloud services for
storage, streaming or syncing.
Tools and Standards in Use. Following the first
survey, Table 1 provides an inside on the percent of
initiatives that are using todays tools and standards for
the development of the second generation products.
Following the second survey, the main topics selected
as being of interest for the research and innovation to
create the third generation are depicted in Figure 3.
Note that the complex topics related to security, soft-
ware engineering, multiple clouds were excluded.
Support for a New Software Generation. We
estimate that the IaaS will evolve towards its omni-
presence, freeing the cloud service consuming soft-
ware from the cloud services, by ensuring that the new
generation software, or existing modular or event-
reactive ones, will be able to be described to an ab-
stract level that is service agnostic, will be able to
form automatic and transparent combinations of hard-
ware and software resources according to its needs,
while resource provisioning, deployments, runtime
migrations, multi-tenancy with cost-effectiveness and
data protection, or the recovery from minute-to-
On the Next Generations of Infrastructure-as-a-Services
Figure 3: Percents of respondents positioning the selected topics in the future (red and blue): top-left, support for new software
generation; bottom-left, IaaS model evolution; top-right, IaaS market evolution; bottom-right, Datacenter services
minute failures will be managed automatically. More
details are provided bellow.
Social-media Like Evolution. The applications
are expected to form automatic associations of hard-
ware and software resources according to their needs,
e.g. following a social-media style in which a
database can preferentially select a trusted server
or storage array (this approach requires that the re-
sources of a datacentre will mould itself around the
task required, rather than following the current oppo-
site way). Application developers will no more worry
about provisioning servers, storage, or communica-
tion as the provisioning process will happen automat-
Event-driven Architecture. This trend is reflected
in the recent Lambda architecture, in which code is
executed in response to an event, ensuring an impor-
tant step in moving away from server-centric design.
The cloud becomes a generic compute engine, and the
developers do not need to organize the resources as
they simple just run the code.
Failure Proof Systems. New software systems
need to be developed to deal with the likely minute-
to-minute failures of the consumed resources.
Thin Cloud Connection. Applications will no
more belong to only one cloud, but will be able to re-
side in various clouds and to use various on-premise
other applications. Different parts of applications will
be able to float around in and out of current cloud, e.g.
following a policy-based SLA management plan.
Modular Cloud Applications. The software deve-
lopment process is expected to place an emphasis on
modular software, allowing their components to be
modified without shutting down the full.
Software Moving Away from Hardware. The soft-
ware is expected to float away from the hardware
and software resources: the software will described
in abstracted space and will go through several adap-
tors before it interacts with hardware (being therefore
practically hardware agnostic).
Multi-tenancy in Software. The production of
multi-tenant software is challenging. When multiple
users access the software relying on one cloud, the
software developer needs to make sure that data is
kept separate and the associated costs are identified.
IaaS Model Evolution. The IaaS model will
evolve towards the integration with machine-to-
machine computing, solving the challenges of sepa-
rate technology stacks and dealing with limited me-
mory, storage and computation capacity of the edge
devices, speed of deployment, resource distribution,
cost-effective scalability, resilience, easiness of ma-
nagement or security.
Integration with Operational Technologies. A
challenging area is the merge of information techno-
logy with operational technology. The information
technology is established around the open-source, In-
ternet protocols, international standards. The opera-
tional technology is characterized by proprietary stan-
dards and non-cross functional equipment. This in-
cludes the hardware and the software that is used to
control and monitor the manufacturing equipment and
processes, and most communication is accomplished
between machines. The two groups have separate
technology stacks, network architectures, protocols,
standards, governance models, and organizations. By
CLOSER 2016 - 6th International Conference on Cloud Computing and Services Science
converging them in one solution, organizations can
create better products, achieve cost and risk reduc-
tions, improve performance, flexibility and efficiency.
Fog Nodes Integration. The fog computing promi-
ses to bring small computation and storage capabili-
ties, supporting execution of applications that require
low latency interactions with sensors, actuators, end-
users. Fog nodes are implemented using embedded
systems, in industrial control boards or home routers.
Their limited memory, storage and computation is a
challenge in their integration into the cloud architec-
ture to enable the execution of application logic. Their
integration will leverage containers as main techno-
logy for application delivery and execution.
Smart Gateways. The success of fog computing
depends on the resilience of the smart gateways di-
recting tasks on an Internet teeming with IoT devices.
This smartening will rely on features such as out-of-
band access, automatic detection and recovery from
outages, cellular connectivity, or high-level security.
Moving the processing of data to the edge raises
the challenge to maintaining the availability of these
smart gateways and their communication path to the
cloud. Resilience is needed for business continuity,
with redundancy, security, monitoring of power and
cooling and failover solutions in place to ensure max-
imum uptime. Speed of deployment, cost-effective
scalability, and ease of management with limited re-
sources are also main concerns.
Inverse Cloud Models, like machine-to-machine
computing (M2M) or geo-distributed cloud, have
been proposed as an alternative to the bandwidth-
intensive cloud approach. Company branded ver-
sions, like fog computing, edge computing, in-
network distributed cloud, or Cloud 2.0 were pro-
posed in this context. M2M provides compute, sto-
rage, data or application services to client endpoints,
like the cloud computing model. Unlike it, M2M
distributes data transmission among endpoints and
routers, instead sending them to a server. However,
it has its challenges, including limited resources and
network capacity, security, or resource distribution.
IaaS Market Orientation. We estimate that the
IaaS will evolve towards diversification, ensuring spe-
cial features like those sustaining user mobility, user
as service provider, service composition, personal
data service configurability, or speciality cloud ser-
vices. More details are provided bellow.
Personal Cloud – Configurable Services. The per-
sonal cloud providers are expected to focus on busi-
ness users along with offering superior value added
services for users, supplemented by the integration
of wearable technologies. The users will pay to ea-
sily deploy configurations and services they are ac-
quainted to use. The exploitation of containers in
embedded and resource constrained devices gives the
opportunity to encapsulate user preferences, applica-
tions and services in virtual environments and to de-
ploy them through the cloud in personal devices.
Users as Service Providers. Social tools will bring
increased collaboration to the cloud. As people be-
come more accustomed to these tools, customers use
them to communicate with fellows. The face of cloud
is expected to change into a solution which will be
delivered as a service with end users behaving more
like service providers as a result.
Specialized Clouds. Clouds will raise through
their ability to avoid specialized hardware acquisition
costs and outdated equipment. E.g. video editing will
create expanding markets for large instances and spe-
cialized GPU clouds. Running high-end graphics ap-
plications is requiring today substantial hardware in-
frastructure investment; newly cloud-based graphics
technologies are showing that end users can run high-
end graphic design applications with a web browser.
Personal Clouds Data Services. Data genera-
tion activities among users and the need to access
data from anywhere using any device increases the
demand for personal cloud for real-time data access
and its sharing. Additionally, the growing need to cre-
ate a backup of critical data, along with provisions for
data recovery and planning for digital contingency, is
stimulating the personal cloud adoption.
Connecting Cloud Services. By connecting cloud
services, the companies should be able to effectively
manage their assets. However, a close look to which
providers offer cost-efficient or reliable services is
needed. The ability to build agile hybrid clouds will
influence the design of the midleware.
Datacentre Services. We expect to see an evo-
lution of the software-defined datacentres as ecosys-
tems, in which services are abstracted from infras-
tructure, changes and updating are done automatically
based on intelligent orchestration or new database
tools, security is software-defined; such ecosys-
tem should enable warehouse-scale computing using
purpose-designed chips, new services like supercom-
puting on demand or massively federated, scalable
software architecture with orchestration through net-
work awareness. More details are provided bellow.
Warehouse-scale Computing. Low-power proces-
sors will be able to treat many workloads to support
massively federated and scalable software architec-
ture. A new generation of warehouse-scale comput-
ing is coming and custom chips for cloud partners and
purpose-designed chips as well as energy-aware ma-
nagement are expected to be supplied.
Ecosystems. The datacentres will be like biolo-
On the Next Generations of Infrastructure-as-a-Services
gical organisms: having different states, growing and
shrinking according to workloads, automatically cor-
rected and changed. An over-arching system will rule
equipment via software.
Software-defined. The software-defined datacen-
tres with all infrastructure virtualised and delivered
as a service is changing the way organisations view
the value of the underlying physical infrastructure.
Within the datacentre the services will be abstracted
from the infrastructure. Software-defined security
will become part of the software-defined datacentre.
Orchestration through Network Awareness. When
large-scale applications with thousands components
are deployed across multiple datacenters the SLAs
need to be enforced and software usage and faults
need to be monitored and managed. Cloud mana-
gement and orchestration must be aligned with var-
ious products and services. Consequently, everything
from orchestration to database tools will evolve. Dat-
acentre operators will add value to cloud orchestration
through network awareness and integration of cloud
orchestration with their management platforms.
Private Cluster of Demand. Technologies cur-
rently limited to supercomputing will make it into the
mainstream. The web-server-sized instances will be
replaced by on-demand private clusters. New cloud
services are expected to emerge, like supercomputers
on demand, high-performance storage, or new ways
of storing and processing data.
The paper touched the subject of predicting the un-
predictable, the far future of cloud, based on a limited
analysis of the trends in on-going research activities
in the European area and a small set of visionary pa-
pers. Based on them, we concluded that the evolution
of the IaaS model and market in the future will fol-
low four main directions: significant changes in the
support of data application development, datacenters
reorganisation, model evolution towards smooth inte-
gration with other models, market orientation towards
specialization and personalization. Complex topics
like software engineering, security, multiple clouds
were intentionally excluded (future studies).
This research is partially supported by the grants RO-
PCE-0260-AMICAS and EC-H2020-ICT 643946-
CloudLightning, 644048-BEACON, 644179-EN-
TICE, 643963-SWITCH, 644429-MUSA.
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CLOSER 2016 - 6th International Conference on Cloud Computing and Services Science