There's an awful lot that can go wrong with service level agreements (SLAs) on cloud-based services says Craig Beddis, Regional SVP at UC4 Software.
Services in the cloud are not available when there is an outage.
Gradually we're starting to see businesses of all sizes using cloud providers for various services, with limited upfront costs and greater flexibility.
You may think this sounds too good to be true. It an be when one of the main risks is some sort of outage which makes your data temporarily unavailable. In this case you'd expect service level agreements (SLAs) with your cloud provider to compensate you for not being able to access your essential services.
Unfortunately many SLAs do not cover companies for unexpected events such as a data centre network being cut off by somebody digging through some cabling.
Let's say Mr X is the CIO of a recruitment software company, supplying to more than 400 recruitment businesses across the UK. The specialist software is offered as proprietary (i.e. the client owns the license and data is stored in the customer's server) or is accessible via a cloud-based service. Since the recession the company has seen a huge growth in smaller recruitment businesses developing and choosing their software using the cloud-based model for the greater flexibility and lower upfront cost.
As the number of clients grew and database functionality expanded, Mr X is concerned when he receives 80 complaints from clients unable to access their databases. When he contacts his cloud provider he's told that there was an outage on one of their servers which would not be rectified until later that week, and that unfortunately this incident was not covered under his SLA. As a result Mr X had to inform account managers of the issue and compensation was given.
Meanwhile, his boss is furious that money was wasted on a problem that wasn't even their fault.
This was first published in August 2011