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5 tips for making your cloud SLA air-tight

Meanwhile, cloud providers need to take customer concerns into account. Foley says the cloud companies that listen and respond to customer concerns will be the ones succeeding long-term. Even if expectations are set, he says there are a variety of issues that can pop up while the SLA negotiation and afterwards the document is signed. Foley has five tips to make sure businesses don't get burnt:

One of the chief benefits of cloud computing is its elastic nature and the agility it gives clients to dynamically scale their IT usage based on their exact demands. If that's an important function for the user, Overly says it should be discussed with your provider. "Many people focus on availability, but at times just as important is the quality of the service," he says. If the customer's business relies on the ability to spin up new resources quickly, for instance, maybe that should be written into the SLA.

Behind agility, another top reasons many clients embrace cloud computing is because of potential cost savings, but Overly says clients aren't paying close enough attention to all of the revenue streams vendors may try to sneak into an SLA. In one circumstance, Overly says he found an SLA with a dozen potential revenue streams for the vendor, however only a handful of them were listed in the "Fees" section of the SLA. "Actually go through every last line in the contract looking for these things," he says.

The overall lesson

The overall lesson, he says, is to take an all-encompassing approach to reviewing the details of the agreement and the impact it can have on the business. Get the appropriate people involved, from the security, IT and business divisions all the way to the legal team and technical implementers to review everything and look for red flags.

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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