Cloud Management Platforms (CPM) can operate at three levels: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
At the IaaS level, CMP assist administrators to manage the physical infrastructure by providing management capabilities in the fields of pricing/billing, SLA management, scheduling, VM pool management, monitoring, and reservation. From the provider side, CMP allows better exploiting hardware virtualization and provides a more robust environment where executing third party applications. From the customer side, it supports the construction of their infrastructure in the cloud.
At the PaaS level, CMP assist administrators to manage development and deployment platforms for running applications in the cloud. CMP manage the processes established to deploy applications to the IaaS, which include configuring application libraries, and compiling and debugging. While solutions to manage Web application are the most popular (e.g., Heroku and Google AppEngine), other solutions provide a platform for any type of application (e.g., GigaSpaces and Microsoft Windows Azure).
At the SaaS level, CMP assists administrators at managing applications provided through the Internet as a Web-based service, such as CRM, ERP, and social networking applications.