Taking the Fear Out of Cloud with Customised Service-Level Agreements

By Lauren Fritsky

They’re interested, but a little scared.

That’s what the latest research says regarding the enterprise view of adoptingcloud computing. Some organisations fear all their most precious data will be sucked into an insecure vacuum, never to be seen again. They fret over privacy, service outages and where their data resides. There’s a three-letter acronym that can soothe all these fears when you choose the right cloud service provider: the SLA, or service-level agreement.

Operating as your contract with your provider, the SLA centres on responsibilities related to how the cloud service should perform. It provides safeguards to ensure your data stays where it belongs and that you will be reimbursed in some form if there’s an outage. SLAs cover areas such as server availability, data retention, data encryption and response and restoration.

SLAs usually come in two flavours: fixed and customisable. Fixed SLAs offer little wiggle room in their terms of service. No matter the specific needs of your organisation, you’ll have the same agreement as the next enterprise, and you will typically not be able to change any part of the terms. Customisable SLAs offer more flexibility and are usually able to be changed or added to as your business needs evolve. The Longhaus Cloud Pulse report says only 53 per cent of cloud service providers offer a customisable agreement. Choosing one of them could save you headaches down the road.

Certain organisations, such as government agencies, need the utmost in security and privacy and, therefore, room to tailor an SLA to their specific needs. In bidding for contracts with several government organisations, Datacom’s ability to offer a robust and amendable SLA was one of the reasons the agencies felt comfortable enough to migrate their infrastructure to our cloud. Some of the key SLA features important to these agencies included our promise of 99.9 per cent server availability, storage of data in local data centres and change, incident, problem and capacity management to reduce the impact of Priority 1 incidents on the organisation. Additionally, disaster recovery and business continuance plans based on recovery point objective and recovery time objective were offered.

The terms of your SLA should depend on what your business needs now and in the future. You should be able to access and retrieve your data and receive service credits if an unplanned outage occurs. The right cloud service provider will also continually review your SLA terms to ensure they are living up to your business needs.

The bottom line is that a good SLA will make you feel secure in your decision to adopt cloud in your business – choosing a provider that lets you create and change your agreement while providing high standards for areas such as service availability and disaster recovery is the way to go.

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