Researchers: Customizable Cloud SLAs Coming Soon

"One-size-fits-all" will be phased out as provider look for ways to differentiate on service offerings
By Brandon Butler
News May 25th 2012

Service-level agreements and legal standards for cloud offerings will become more customized to individual customers and vertical industries as the cloud market continues to mature and providers look for ways to differentiate their offerings, researchers at the University of London predict.

Providers today are in many cases looking to push "one-size-fits-all" contracts on customers that favor the provider, the researchers found, but they don't always meet the needs of customers. For example, some vertical industries, such as healthcare, government and finance, each have compliance requirements that need to be addressed before they can more fully embrace a cloud strategy. Providers are only beginning to offer these types of services, and it's a trend researchers expect will pick up steam.

"To remain competitive, providers may have to be more aware of user concerns, more flexible in negotiations, and more willing to demonstrate the security and robustness of their services," says Christopher Millard, lead academic on the Cloud Legal Project at Queen Mary, University of London.

A three-year study by the team found that the six most negotiated terms of cloud contracts were: provider liability, service-level agreements, data protection and security, termination rights, unilateral amendments to service features and intellectual property rights. Those represent some of the top concerns users have regarding the cloud, says Ian Walden, another researcher.