Phoenix warns CIOs not to underestimate SLAs

The rise in Cloud adoption means that as more critical elements of the IT mix transition to the Cloud, CIOs will need to take even greater care when selecting a vendor and service provider, ensuring that the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) they sign up for are clearly defined to meet the benefits of their business, according to Martin O’Donnell, head of Cloud and hosting services at Phoenix.

Recent research from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) has identified that Cloud adoption is on the rise with 27 per cent first time users, embracing Cloud in the past 18 months. This, combined with further research predicting that by the end of 2013 over 75 per cent of UK businesses will be using at least one Cloud service formally, suggest that organisations on all levels are waking up to the business benefits of Cloud computing.

O’Donnell commented: “As Cloud adoption continues to grow so will the availability of vendors and service providers keen to exploit the market. These organisations will recognise a demand from firms looking to migrate to a hosted environment and therefore end-users need to ensure they strategically and carefully select a provider or vendor that has their best interests at heart.

“For a CIO looking to move to the Cloud it’s imperative they have complete transparency over their agreed SLAs. Checking where the responsibilities end for the vendor is crucial. This allows you to know where downtime starts. For example, is it when the system was reported down or from when it’s proven to be down? Are there agreed outage periods within your SLA? Are you comfortable with these outage periods?

“Understanding the metrics making up the SLA calculation is also essential. If you understand the components you are in a much better position to understand the SLA – the knock-on effect means that you are better equipped to spot irregularities and breaches.

“Where Cloud is concerned, consider the size of your SLA and its components. Multiple simple SLAs are much easier to handle than a large overriding one. Whilst one SLA may appear to be simple you don’t always know what makes it up and it might prove easier to focus on a smaller area.

“Finally consider the impact of change on your SLA. If you make a change to the system without authorisation you automatically shoot yourself in the foot and if proven by the vendor, this might result in your SLA potentially becoming void for that period,” he concluded.

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