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Hybrid Cloud is the New Normal – Customers Will Demand Custom SLAsHybrid Cloud is the New Normal – Customers Will Demand Custom SLAs

Customers will favor managed service providers (MSPs) that can offer a custom service level agreement for hybrid cloud computing services. Yet MSPs typically offer a one-size-fits-all SLA. Here's a deeper look into hybrid cloud, SLAs and how you can better serve your customers.

January 23, 2015

3 Min Read
Hybrid Cloud is the New Normal – Customers Will Demand Custom SLAs

By Gina Murphy 1

The hybrid cloud is now the new normal in cloud computing. The whole point of a hybrid cloud is to design and customize cloud capabilities that address your customer’s unique needs. But today – MSPs typically offer a one-size-fits-all service level agreement. Customers will demand a service provider that is willing and able to customize the service level agreement to meet those unique needs of their organization so that they can take advantage of the flexibility, scalability, cost reductions, and resiliency that cloud computing offers. 2015 will be the year that customers demand customized SLAs.

Service Level Agreements (SLA) serve as a roadmap and a warranty for cloud services offerings. All cloud providers offer some type of standard, one-size-fits-all SLA that may or may not include the following, depending on your requirements:

  • covers availably,

  • performance,

  • security,

  • disaster recovery,

  • response times,

  • compliance and

  • termination.

This may be adequate for pure cloud applications; however, standard SLAs fall short when it comes to hybrid cloud deployments.

There is nothing standard about hybrid deployments. Each one is different and inherently includes a higher level of involvement from the enterprise IT department. SLAs need to establish clear guidelines of engagement for both the enterprise and service provider.  Unfortunately, not all cloud service providers are open or equipped to customize SLAs. This will need to change in 2015 – hybrid cloud is now the new normal.


Every hybrid cloud implementation is unique and that makes securing them a continuous challenge. The networking and integration points between the private and public clouds need careful consideration. This is where an SLA comes into play. The SLA should address three primary areas of risk:

  • Data – Who secures the link when data leaves the private cloud? The SLA should address data custody, control, possession, and right of return.

  • Compliance – Enterprises still need to comply with regulations that pertain to data governance even data leaves the premise.  How will the interconnectivity of a hybrid cloud deployment impact compliance?

  • Audit – SLAs should cover access to documented proof necessary to demonstrate compliance to an auditor and who pays for the service provider’s time during an audit.

Where’s my data?

When data leaves the private cloud, it is likely that it will be stored in multiple data centers for high availability and for business continuity or may transverse multiple clouds. The SLA needs to address where your data is stored, will it transverse multiple countries, who can access it, how often is it backed up, how is it restored, and what happens when a breach occurs.

Availability and Performance – Availability can mean differently things depending on the services offered. For IaaS, availability is usually defined in terms of infrastructure such as cloud servers and storage. For PaaS, availability may be defined in terms of functionality and access to the platform and for SaaS providers, availability will be defined in terms of application and data availability. Ensure that guarantees and definitions are clearly outlined in the SLA.

MSPs must be willing to customize SLAs to meet the needs of their customer. Transparency builds trust and having the ability to respond to a crisis as a cohesive team is the goal of any SLA.


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