Why you need standardisation of SLAs in a multi-cloud environment
Many technical experts believe that cloud computing is capable of reshaping the entire ICT industry in a revolutionary manner. With the introduction and development of cloud computing, the two business entities that emerged include – Cloud Service Providers and Cloud consumers.
Although the consumers of cloud services do not possess much control over the primary computing resources, but it is quite essential for the cloud consumers to obtain necessary guarantees in terms of service delivery standards.
These guarantees are usually provided through SLA (Service Level Agreement) which is negotiated between service provider and cloud service consumer. One of the major requirement of a well defined SLA is its standardization.
It must possess apposite level of granularity, namely the trade offs between complicatedness and expressiveness, so that most of the consumer expectations are covered. An SLA must also be relatively straightforward to be verified, weighted, evaluated.
You cannot rush in the process of developing SLA between the cloud service provider and cloud consumer. There are many aspects that need deep delved consideration. One such aspect is standardization of SLA in a multi cloud environment. It is an imperative segment that must be given utmost importance.
While SLA can be considered a contract or agreement between a cloud service provider and a cloud customer which may be an enterprise, a government agency or a business, but the intensifying value chain for the other services have made SLAs quite significant for a myriad of multifaceted and intricate relationships that they partners share.
There may be overlapping in the service providers. Like the same service provider may indulge itself in providing cloud based services to vendors, businesses, government agencies, large enterprises, SaaS end users, IaaS infrastructure specialists and PaaS developers etc.
Also the same vendor may indulge in providing services to network providers, cloud service providers, web service providers, businesses, enterprises and government agencies etc. Since there can be innumerable relationships possible with huge amount of terms and conditions for the relationships smooth execution, the standardization of the SLA appears to be a great solution.
There are numerous businesses and individuals who get connected with the SLAs on the basis of the services that they provide. There can be different types of relationships that a business or a service provider has indulged into. There can be many to many, one to many and many to one relationships.
For example, in the context of pre-disaster planning, a requesting service provider is required to figure out that whether reserved resources would be available through a substitute provider or not. Here the concept of many to many, one to many relationships come into play. In order to arrange for the reserved resources for emergency or catastrophic situations, a requesting provider can enter into the relationship with one or more than one substitute services provider.
A substitute service provider is a kind of cloud service provider only, who agrees to provide data transfer services to a requesting service provider, so that it can fix load balancing or outage issues at its end.
Hence, in order to compete successfully, companies must manage their quality of services proactively. Since the provisioning of such services is entirely dependent on the multiple partners, the SLA management becomes a critical and vital factor for achieving success. Also the standardization of terminologies in the SLA among the various partners is also quite imperative.
If the terminologies are not standardized then it may be possible that the definition of a terminology used by a partner (let’s say a requesting service provider) may differ from the definition that is used by another partner, a vendor or a substitute provider. There is also the possibility that partners may define the parameters of SLA in dissimilar ways.
When these differences are not addressed during a negotiation, they might impact the process of SLA. The issues like what is the penalty and when should the penalty be imposed may come up.
Therefore, standardization of the SLAs is the basic and fundamental requirement in order to run the relationships smoothly. It helps in providing significant input to the strategic plans., helps in optimizing the end to end business processes, enhances customer support and produces gains in the cost efficiency.
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