The European Commission has proposed guidelines that move closer to ensuring standardised service level agreements (SLAs) among cloud providers.
The rules were developed as part of the EC's Cloud Select Industry Group, with contributors including Atos, IBM, Microsoft and SAP, and will now be tested with customers, particularly at SME level, ahead of a potential implementation across Europe.
The standardised contracts are aimed at defining the legal and technical aspects of a contract with a cloud supplier in plain language, in order to make the purchasing decision easier for buyers. This can help ensure that important elements of an agreement such as the reliability and availability of a service or quality of support are similar.
SLAs can often span many geographic jurisdictions, meaning that legal requirements around data protection, for example, can vary. Also, the multitude of cloud services and deployment models can add complexity, while terminology can differ from vendor to vendor.
"This is the first time cloud suppliers have agreed on common guidelines for service level agreements," said European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes. "I think small businesses in particular will benefit from having these guidelines at hand when searching for cloud services."
According to the EC, cloud computing can help save businesses up to 20 percent on data centre costs, with SLAs playing an important role in acquiring services.
It is hoped that the delivery of standardised guidelines can reduce complexity contracts that can vary from help speed adoption of cloud services in the European Union, benefitting customers and suppliers.
"Today's new guidelines will help generate trust in innovative computing solutions and help EU citizens save money," added EC vice-president Viviane Reding. "More trust means more revenue for companies in Europe's digital single market."