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New cloud standards will help ease contract negotiations

Cloud service agreements — which spell out the obligations and responsibilities a cloud provider and a customer must adhere to — are documents organizations with IT operations in the public cloud are familiar with. They’re also most likely familiar with terms that don’t necessarily match the commitments to performance and security they require. And with contractual language that changes with the cloud provider.

Still, organizations that want the cost-savings and flexibility that cloud computing promises have little choice. There are still few official cloud standards governing the industry, so cloud contracts from different providers are difficult to compare side by side – and they can be riddled with pitfalls for uninformed customers.

That’s all due to change, albeit gradually, according to the Cloud Standards Customer Council. The user advocacy group gave a live webinar Thursday presenting its updated guide “Public Cloud Service Agreements: What to Expect and What to Negotiate Version 2.0.”

One of the speakers in the webinar, John Bruylant, founder of cloud services broker TheCloudTurbo, said there are a number of cloud industry developments regarding cloud service agreements, including the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 19086 and the Slalom project. Both aim at standardizing language used in cloud service contracts, terms of the agreements and the metrics cloud providers use to track services.

Another speaker, Mike Edwards, who works on cloud standards at IBM, said the portion of ISO 19086 laying out terminology standards on commitments to customers made by cloud service providers will be released in the next two months.

“Hopefully, that will help bring some consistency to different cloud service agreements and make it easier for customers to understand what they’re getting,” Edwards said.

The Cloud Standards Customer Council’s Claude Baudoin presents a list of pointers on understanding and evaluating cloud service agreements in this SearchCIO tip.

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