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Key Considerations while Defining Hybrid Cloud SLA

By CIOReview | Friday, June 16, 2017

End-users are usually unaware and ignorant about whether an organization’s IT services are hosted on a public, private, or hybrid cloud, leaving the whole burden on IT. The primary pressure on IT originates during the downtime of a service or loss of any data. Service-level agreements (SLA) were built for providers to meet certain conditions for their clients, and as IT organizations have started adopting hybrid clouds—defining these SLAs has become increasingly complex. Organizations can structure an SLA for cloud with the foresight and understandings of regulatory compliance, security, and governance requirements.

The main issue with hybrid clouds is that they are not static systems as the cloud is a combination of public and private services—working in unison as a single system. Hence, any one component can prove to be the weakest link as it is a fluid system, and it is essential for organizations to understand who owns all the parts of the stack in the new hybrid environment and who has what responsibility. Developing SLAs need a clear understanding of ownership and support for all these disparate parts of the infrastructure. Each company will have different requirements and priorities, but the following considerations can help organizations get started on hybrid SLA journey.

Understanding the Overall Level of Service

Analyzing and understanding the organizational limitations better enables selecting the proper cloud services based not just on the price but also on the SLA offered by the company. SLAs can include a public cloud service proposing a comprehensive uptime SLA based on providing redundancy of all their services or providing a virtual private network for extra security. It can also or indemnifying the business against any legal action based on their failure to live up to an SLA. Understanding the needs of each business unit can help in deciding the best suited SLAs and when it is required to keep a service behind the firewall in the private cloud or the data center.

Negotiating type of penalties with cloud service providers

An SLA contract has to match the operational requirements. Hence, identifying the areas that need a higher level of service is necessary for negotiating contract terms. Managing the integrity and security of data, and determining the value of all the data maintained in the hybrid cloud environment must be a priority. Some company data like financial results need a high level of protection while the loss of data like background information and industry statistics will not affect the health of the enterprize. Part of the overall hybrid SLA must include a clause for handling disasters. The cloud providers and the organization’s private cloud must have a coordinated backup plan in such scenarios. Organizations must also find a way to create a coordinated SLA between the major parties. As this initiative will be a new idea to many public cloud providers and the IT organization, a significant education process is necessary to be implemented.

Understanding the monitoring activity

The main responsibility for monitoring the processes in the hybrid cloud is on the organization itself. Therefore, organizations need to consider the type of tools and techniques that will allow having access to performance monitoring for each of the services. At the same time, organizations also need a service management strategy in order to look at the entire picture of the hybrid environment.

Managing the integrity and security of data must be a priority

Every organization needs to understand the value of all the information managed in their hybrid cloud environment. Different types of organizational data need various kinds of accessibility and security depending on how sensitive the data is for the company. Some countries may also impede the way how and where personal information is stored and accessed. Hence, an SLA must cover all these issues.

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