Making Cloud SLAs readily usable in the EU private sector

Standardisation & the DSM

An objective of the Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy is to make Europe a world leader in ICT and create one of the biggest digital marketplaces globally.

Cloud computing is one of the five priority domains of the DSM while standardisation is a vital component of building trust and transparency in cloud services.

In the DSM strategy the European Commission recognise the importance of the data economy. Data technologies and services that can be used for the collection, processing and other use and management by means of a combination of cloud computing, data analytics, internet of things and other technologies, are essential factors of progress in the new era of digitalisation.

In the section on ‘Maximising the growth potential of the Digital Economy’ the DSM strategy committed the European Commission to proposing a European ‘Free flow of data’ initiative to tackle restrictions on the free movement of data within the EU and unjustified restrictions on the location of data for storage or processing purposes. In addition, it stated that the initiative

“(…) will address the emerging issues of ownership, interoperability, usability and access to data in situations such as business-to-business, business to consumer, machine generated and machine-to-machine data. It will encourage access to public data to help drive innovation”.

Actors within the European data market need predictability and legal certainty on these and related issues in order to enter the market and invest in new business models, which is especially vital for SMEs.

From the small medium enterprise (SME) as a cloud service customer (CSC) perspective, the existing awareness and expertise at both the CSCs, the cloud service provider (CSP) level as well as policy makers and authority level is generally not sufficient to provide actors in the data value chain with the trust, predictability and legal certainty that they need to assess, make informed decision and have reasonable access and use of cloud services.

The same is true for existing legal frameworks and current contractual practices, although this obviously differs per deployment model and service model of the service as well per CSP and the (envisioned or actual) use of the CSC thereof. Contractual practices, including the arrangements in or related to SLAs also create obstacles to the free and smooth flow of data or to data access as well as lock-in.

SLA-Ready response

SLA Ready supports the European Free Flow of Data Initiative as an important step at EU-level to allow SMEs and their stakeholders, including businesses, citizens, researchers and consumers to take full advantage of data technologies and services. A free flow of data will support connectivity between sectors and industries, lowering costs, stimulating research and innovation and unleashing the potential of new economic models.

Building on the work conducted by Standard Developing Organisation (SDOs), SLA-Ready is a European initiative that aims to:

  • deliver a common reference model for Cloud SLAs, a set of services to support cloud customers in the use of cloud SLAs through their life cycle;
  • encourage a culture of trust and transparency amongst CSPs.