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Tailoring Cloud SLA: Four Things to Bear in Mind

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Last updated August 30th, 2013 by Leana Thorne in Monitoring, , Tech


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Although cloud adoption is growing at an amazing rate, many CIOs still have doubts when it comes to choosing the right service provider. Certainly, making such a decision is by no means an easy task. Still, even if you’re sure a particular company offers all you need, you shouldn’t rush into signing a SLA (service level agreement) with them. Before signing a contract with a cloud provider and making a long-term commitment, you might want to contemplate several important things.

Security and authorization

If you’re familiar with the way cloud technology works, you must have realized the potential risks of storing your data there. Security has always been a heated topic in the cloud, which is why you must make sure your provider uses high security standards. Enquire about the encryption strength they use to protect your data, as well as about the people who are authorized to access it any time. In most cloud companies there are groups of employees who are allowed to access your data in case you encounter problems. What you need to sort out with your provider is that nobody else would ever have the possibility to do so.

Service availability

Maximum uptime is a crucial thing for every cloud user, especially for businesses or commercial websites. While many providers guarantee 100% uptime, you must be aware this isn’t actually possible. Every service needs to have network maintenance every now and then, so you might want to check your provider’s schedule. Additionally, make sure service uptime doesn’t refer only to scheduled uptime, as providers tend to exclude what is called ‘planned downtime’ from this digit. Planned downtime allows service provider to check bugs or introduce features at a specific time of the week or month. Usually this is a short period at points when the network traffic is least intensive.

Server location

As cloud providers usually establish their server farms across different states or even countries, it may be useful to know where your data is actually stored. In case your data crosses national boundaries, it becomes a subject of different laws. This issue is why many European businesses restrained from using US-based cloud services, as this would most probably make their data accessible to the US government under the Patriotic Act. Anyways, wherever your business is located, you might want to check this issue in order to avoid possible inconsistencies with local legislation.

Hidden costs

Service price was probably one of the major factors that influenced your choice of a specific cloud vendor. However, even though the contract costs are always neatly listed on the SLA, there is a possibility that some extra fees, taxes or upgrading costs are outlined somewhere in the back of it. It is important that your provider make these things clear, so that you’d avoid any potential misunderstandings. Enquire about the exact situations when you may be required to pay extra and make sure there won’t be any possibilities for your provider to charge anything you weren’t already prepared to pay.

Obviously, there are plenty of reasons why you should carefully read every single sentence in your SLA, especially the ones that may be listed in tiny print. Here you may find about the things mentioned above and thus eliminate any doubts that the provider you chose would actually meet your cloud expectations.


Leana Thorne

Leana Thorne is a freelance writer covering various technology themes. Her specialty is cloud, virtual private servers and web, and server hosting at

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