Cloud computing infrastructures support dynamical and flexible access to computational, network and storage resources. To date, several disjoint industrial and academic technologies provide infrastructure level access to Clouds. Especially for industrial platforms, the evolution of de-facto standards goes together with worries about user lock-in to a platform. The Contrail project  proposes a federated and integrated approach to Clouds. In this work we present and motivate the architecture of Contrail federations. Contrail’s goal is to minimize the burden on the user and increase the efficiency in using Cloud platforms by performing both a vertical and a horizontal integration. To this end, Contrail federations play a key role, allowing users to exploit resources belonging to different cloud providers, regardless of the kind of technology of the providers and with a homogeneous, secure interface. Vertical integration is achieved by developing both the Infrastructure- and the Platform-asa-Service levels within the project. A third key point is the adoption of a fully open-source approach toward technology and standards. Beside supporting user authentication and applications deployment, Contrail federations aim at providing extended SLA management functionalities, by integrating the SLA management approach of SLA@SOI project in the federation architecture
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