As part of a major EU push towards ‘Unleashing the potential of cloud computing in Europe’ a series of working groups has been set up to promote and standardise cloud service provision.
One of the key objectives in this strategy is to produce standards and guidelines for cloud computing Service Level Agreements, or Cloud SLAs. These are being developed by one of the EU's Cloud Select Industry Groups (C-SIGs), a grouping of representatives from interested industry players, and their standardisation guidelines are now available. The guidelines are intended to establish building blocks in this important and fast-moving area. Areas addressed include the availability and reliability of the cloud service, the quality of support services, security levels and management of data held in the cloud.
The next stage of the process will involve testing the proposed guidelines with users, focusing in particular on SMEs. They will also be reviewed by the Commission’s recently appointed Expert Group on Cloud Computing Contracts.
The C-SIG is also working with the ISO Cloud Computing Working Group with the aim of promoting international standards by contributing to the development of an SLA framework and terminology under project ISO/IEC NP 19086.
Note that there is no attempt here to produce model contract terms, and the C-SIG recognises that the details of a Cloud SLA will need to take account of local legal requirements. Importantly, there is also a recognition that cloud offerings are constantly developing and freedom to innovate both technically and in terms of business model must be preserved.
Although still a long way from a finished product, these efforts to standardise the building blocks of cloud contracts are welcome, particularly at the international level.