I want to Sign a Contract with a Cloud Hosting Service Provider. What Basic Points Should I look for in a Cloud Hosting Service SLA?

By | May 13, 2013

Today, the cloud-based services are the biggest boom of the Industry. Since the emergence of cloud computing, there has been a consistent growth in the cloud-based services in various industries that includes Education, Health, Information Technology, Finance & Banking, Telecommunication, Hospitality, etc… Though the cloud services are spreading, however still there are people in the industry who don’t trust on cloud as there are some misconceptions about U.S. Patriot Act in their mind.

Cloud Providers

When it comes to choosing and signing a contract with a web hosting company, most of the people ignore to read the Terms of Service (ToS) and Service Level Agreement (SLA). It is highly important and recommended to read the ToS and SLA before signing up a web hosting service contract with the web host as though the ToS and SLA prints look long and fine, however it contains the most important points regarding the services offered which you wouldn’t want to miss reading it.

The Terms of Service (ToS) often called as Terms of Use (ToU) or Terms and Conditions (T&C) is a fine print containing important rules which a customer or user must agree to abide by in order to use the services. It is generally used by Internet Service Providers or Web Hosting Providers. Whereas, the Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a contract between the service provider and the customer, that states the exact services and other things which will be offered to you. For example, service availability and downtime, performance, operation, uptime guarantee, penalties, billing, etc…

Once you sign up with the service provider without reading the ToS and SLA, you have to do as per the contract; there is nothing you can do. Hence, it is better to read the SLA before signing up a contract, especially with a cloud hosting provider. Some of the basic points that a cloud hosting provider’s SLA must have are mentioned below:

Unlike tangible products that can be seen and touched, the services are based on trust. The trust is a subjective term, and much more for contracts with cloud service providers. In this case, the SLA (Service Level Agreement) is the only thing that can help customers in getting the level of service which the provider promised. Thus, the SLA is the most important part in the relationship between a cloud hosting service provider and the customer and must ensure that the following points are included in the SLA.

Definition: a detailed description of the features of cloud service should be mentioned in the SLA.

Availability: the SLA must include the availability which will be offered for the technology platform, communications and technical support.

Customer Service: the proper methods for customers should be specified in the SLA, in case of incidents or issues. However, it is necessary that the service provider should have a qualified, efficient 24/7 technical staff.

Response Time: it should contain the provider’s commitment with respect to the minimum time for the resolution of issues.

Maintenance: it should contain the conditions on equipment repair and possible interventions that affect the service programmatically.

Penalties: it must contain the guarantees and compensation relating to default service level committed by the cloud hosting provider.

Signatures: it has seen that only 27.4% of the SLA includes the necessary signatures to support compliance detailed in the document, which makes them informal SLAs. The official signing is the key element that distinguishes a documented SLA and an agreed SLA.

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