One method of ensuring that parties to a contract are on the same page as regards expectations and their fulfilment is the drawing up of service level agreements (SLAs). These agreements clearly specify what the vendor is willing to deliver and what the customer can expect to receive with reference to a cloud services contract. SLAs form an important management tool and are often formally negotiated and have specific metrics to quantify delivery of agreed services.
Before discussing the “how to” of establishing a successful business relationship in the cloud, let us quickly review the “bare minimum offering” in the cloud:
1. Readily available computing resources are exposed as a service;
2. The economic model is generally a pay-as-you-go service;
3. May or may not process data into meaningful contexts;
4. Limited guarantees on scalability, reliability and high availability;
5. Security systems are designed to be reasonably hacker proof;
6. Supports environmental goals by reducing carbon footprints;
7. Provides monitoring tools and metrics for evaluating services.
A quick think through, on the offerings of short listed cloud vendors, will establish the decision points for the relationship and the drafting of the SLA. The enterprise must have clarity on:
1. Whether the kind of service being offered by the vendor is the kind of service the enterprise needs?
2. Whether the definition of the “unit” measure of service is determined and can be monetised.
3. Whether the enterprise wants the service provider to process the data into meaningful contexts using compression or de-duplication technologies or it wants the data to be stored “as is where is”.
4. Whether the scalability, high availability and reliability can be truly obtained via the service. The enterprise must examine in some detail the technical claims being made by the service provider and feasibility thereof. A quick market research on the reputation of the vendor will also help in decision making.
5. Whether security guarantees are backed by industry best practises and third party certifications of cryptographic algorithms and user acceptance.
6. Whether green computing options are strictly enforced by the vendor and
7. Whether the service monitoring tools provided will truly reflect the level of service being provided by the vendor.
We, at Backup Technology, believe in working with our customers in a trustful relationship. The Service Level Agreements (SLAs) we design is guaranteed to satisfy the most stringent monitoring requirements and reflects the kind of relationship we seek to establish with our customers.