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Still, organizations that want the cost-savings and flexibility that cloud computing promises have little choice. There are still few official cloud standards governing the industry, so cloud contracts from different providers are difficult to compare side by side – and they can be riddled with pitfalls for uninformed customers.

That’s all due to change, albeit gradually, according to the Cloud Standards Customer Council. The user advocacy group gave a live webinar Thursday presenting its updated guide “Public Cloud Service Agreements: What to Expect and What to Negotiate Version 2.0.”

One of the speakers in the webinar, John Bruylant, founder of cloud services broker TheCloudTurbo, said there are a number of cloud industry developments regarding cloud service agreements, including the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 19086 and the Slalom project. Both aim at standardizing language used in cloud service contracts, terms of the agreements and the metrics cloud providers use to track services.

Another speaker, Mike Edwards, who works on cloud standards at IBM, said the portion of ISO 19086 laying out terminology standards on commitments to customers made by cloud service providers will be released in the next two months.

“Hopefully, that will help bring some consistency to different cloud service agreements and make it easier for customers to understand what they’re getting,” Edwards said.

The Cloud Standards Customer Council’s Claude Baudoin presents a list of pointers on understanding and evaluating cloud service agreements in this SearchCIO tip.
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jlunagar2003 — 5 Aug 2016 7:27 AM

The importance (and need) of standardisation for cloud SLAs (service level agreements) is evident, but equally important is the need to develop effective guidelines to support cloud customers willing to reap the full benefit of standards. This is particularly true for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which in many cases are neither cloud nor SLA experts. Only then, does every cloud have a silver lining.

A good example is the Common Reference Model, which we have developed as an EC-funded project under Horizon 2020. The Common Reference Model provides much-needed Cloud SLA guidelines that takes into account real-world SLAs (analysing more than 150 cloud SLAs), standards (including the draft ISO/IEC 19086-1/-2/-3/-4), best practices (e.g., Cloud Standards Customer Council’s), SME use cases, and cloud customers’ feedback.

Our in-depth analysis on relevant standards revealed a number of really important gaps. Standards such as the upcoming ISO/IEC 19086-1/-4 do not contain any reference related to essential elements that SLA-Ready has identified as significant means to empower/guide SMEs in their transition to the Cloud. For example, the advocated elements such as SLA findability, update/validity period, available languages, are still not addressed by the standards. The same situation occurs with known best practices such as the “Cloud SLA checklist” contained in the SMART EC report. These are just a couple of the shortcomings that emerged from our gap analysis.

The Common Reference Model sets out to fill these gaps by including “evident” elements that do not usually appear on standards (e.g. the easiness to find a SLA), but which are considered important for cloud customers. Many people are perhaps not aware that many cloud providers do not make their SLA publicly available, and only send it to the customer when it is time to sign the contract – much too late for the customer to plan their move to the cloud with careful consideration, and know what to expect, what to do and what to expect.

SLA-Ready has made its Common Reference Model publicly available, and will soon be offering free companion tools and repositories of SLAs to empower cloud customers in their journey to the cloud. These new tools complement the SLA-Ready Cloud Service Life Cycle, based on customer needs at different phases of a cloud service and with different levels of expertise, and the Business Hub.

For more information related to SLA-Ready please visit http://sla-ready.eu or contact us at [email protected]

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