Guidelines to help business users save money and get the most out of cloud computing services are being presented to the European Commission today.
Cloud computing allows individuals, businesses and the public sector to store their data and carry out data processing in remote data centres, saving on average 10-20%.
The guidelines have been developed by a Cloud Select Industry Group as part of the Commission's European Cloud Strategy to increase trust in these services. Contributors to the guidelines include Arthur's Legal, ATOS, Cloud Security Alliance, ENISA, IBM, Microsoft and SAP and Telecom Italia.
The guidelines are considered a first step towards standardised building blocks for Service Level Agreements (SLAs) terminology and metrics. An SLA is a part of a service contract that defines the technical and legal aspects of the service offered. The recent findings of the Trusted Cloud Europe survey show SLA standards are very much required by cloud users.
It is hoped that the guidelines will help professional cloud users ensure essential elements are included in plain language in contracts they make with cloud providers.
Relevant items include:
- The availability and reliability of the cloud service,
- The quality of support services they will receive from their cloud provider
- Security levels
- How to better manage the data they keep in the cloud.
EC VP Neelie Kroes said: "This is the first time cloud suppliers have agreed on common guidelines for service level agreements. I think small businesses in particular will benefit from having these guidelines at hand when searching for cloud services."
As a next step, the European Commission will test these guidelines with users, in particular SMEs. It will also be discussed within the Expert Group on Cloud Computing Contracts set by the Commission in October 2013.