The European Commission released a document last week that explains the guidelines for cloud computing service level agreements (SLAs) between customers and providers in the European Union. The 41-page report covers several concepts including the principles behind SLAs, performance, security, data management and data protection.
The Digital Agenda for Europe includes a section specifically for cloud computing. The subgroup on SLAs within the Cloud Select Industry Group (C-SIG) was established in February 2013. According to its website, the goal of the Digital Agenda for Europe is to offer an EU cloud computing strategy for “better standards, safer contracts and more cloud in the public and private sector.” The initiative started with the European Commission communication “Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Computing in Europe.”
The new “Cloud Service Level Agreement Standardisation Guidelines” include recommendations for businesses seeking cloud services and addresses legal compliance measures regarding EU data protection rules. It was created with input from representatives from cloud computing service providers including Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, SAP and Salesforce. The complete list of nearly 100 industry contributors is available here.
European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes said, “This is the first time cloud suppliers have agreed on common guidelines for service level agreements. I think small businesses in particular will benefit from having these guidelines at hand when searching for cloud services.”
The European Commission will begin testing these guidelines with small and mid-sized business users. There is a possibility these standards could be included in a future international standard for SLAs to be released by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). C-SIG is also working with the ISO Cloud Computing Working Group to offer the European perspective on SLA Standardization.
The European Commission cloud strategy seeks to increase access to data and save businesses money. “Cloud computing therefore represents considerable savings in IT budgets, and the end of headaches linked to older computing methods,” according to the European Commission website.
Commissioner Vivian Reding said the guidelines “will help generate trust in innovative computing solutions and help EU citizens save money.”
“Private sector businesses using cloud computing report 10-20 percent lower IT costs, while cloud computing can also help the public sector improve efficiencies and lower costs. Innovation would get a major boost, too, by offering research institutions much faster access to more data,” the website said.
These new standardization guidelines may help expedite the process of EU companies adopting cloud by simplifying the process of entering and understanding cloud SLAs.
“More trust means more revenue for companies in Europe’s digital single market,” Reding said. “This is the same spirit as the EU data protection reform which aims at boosting trust. A competitive digital single market needs high standards of data protection. EU consumers and small firms want safe and fair contract terms.”