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SLA-Ready: Making Cloud SLAs readily usable in the EU private sector

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SLA-Ready (SLA-Ready: Making Cloud SLAs readily usable in the EU private sector)

Reporting period: 2016-01-01 to 2016-12-31

Trusted and transparent cloud SLAs are an essential piece of the objectives of the Digital Single Market (DSM). Cloud computing is a key enabler for new technologies such as IoT and data science. SLAs are key components in defining cloud services, but unfortunately they are the least understood cloud attribute. Companies, in particular SMEs, struggle with complex language and terms of service (technical and legal). There is also a lack of widely accepted standard frameworks, vocabularies, and much uncertainty as to what is regulated, who is responsible and which laws actually apply.
The overriding goal of SLA-Ready is to increase cloud customers understanding of SLAs and boost uptake especially in the European private sector.
Through its SLA Common Reference Model, the SLA-Ready project has contributed to the definition of best practices and services supporting customers in understanding complex concepts and legal terminology. SLA-Ready has published a marketplace of readily available services and tools such as the SLA-Aid , a substantial set of use cases and the SLA Repository for both CSPs and CSCs which are available at www.sla-ready.eu.
We have also proposed a recommendation methodology based on the CRM that uses machine learning techniques. We have also proposed a technique to obtain the readiness index of SLAs by evaluating the SLAs of several CSPs with respect to the CRM.
SLA-Ready has addressed the current cloud SLA challenges with its dedicated tools and services:
The SLA Common Reference Model & SLA Readiness Index: We have demonstrated the value of a Common Reference Model (CRM) promoting a common understanding of SLAs and their attributes, encouraging the implementation of best practices within the industry and helping customers and resellers understand the crucial elements of a Cloud SLA, including minimum compliance levels and how to manage the complete service lifecycle.
As part of the SLA-Ready’s joint exploitation and sustainability plans, TUDA and Arthur’s Legal have already initiated long-term collaborative activities to cover tools development, SLA usage processes, and SLA-based trust quantification among others. These activities will continue beyond the SLA-READY’s lifetime to provide sustained advocacy of the approaches behind the CRM and the SLA-Readiness Index to the broad applications community spanning SMEs, CSPs, and policymakers.

SLA Ready Hub and SLA Marketplace: A barrier to the adoption of cloud computing by SMEs is knowledge. We have demonstrated the tangible benefits of using the SLA Aid and the SLA Repository. Adopting cloud services should not be viewed as a “no-brainer” but rather as an informed decision having scrutinised the contractual terms and SLAs, and making comparisons with other service offers.
As part of the SLA-Ready’s joint exploitation and sustainability plans, as partners in CloudWATCH2, Trust-IT and CSA will continue to promote the SLA-Ready Hub and SLA Marketplace, in particular the SLA-Aid and SLA Repository.
SME Workshop series: Our 4 SME workshops delivered in Y2 to EU SME associations have shown that SMEs and an increasing number of resellers lack expertise in 2 key areas: the ability to assess a provider’s security measures and understanding of the legal implications, including compliance with forthcoming EU regulations. We have identified a real need for practical hands-on workshops with an essential legal guide complemented by the SLA-Ready Hub and SLA Marketplace so SMEs know what to expect, what to do and what to trust when choosing a cloud service
Through CloudWATCH2 activities, Trust-IT will continue to promote the CRM and associated outputs at stakeholder workshops provided to SME associations.
SLA Standardisation: The emphasis on relevant standards for Cloud SLAs in the Common Reference Model contributes to standardisation as a cornerstone of the Digital Single Market. SLA-Ready has positioned itself as key contributor to ISO/IEC 19086-2 and ISO/IEC 19086-3. SLA-Ready has made 48 contributions to ISO/IEC 19086 Given the lifetime of relevant standardization activities, the consortium has also taken some initial set of actions to continue its engagement with SDOs like ISO/IEC through the EU H2020 CloudWATCH2 project. SLA-Ready also contributed to EC Catalogue of standards covering cloud SLAs.
The Common Reference Model for Cloud SLAs: a common understanding of SLAs and their attributes, and encourage standardisation on the part of cloud service providers.
• CSPs understand customer requirements along the cloud service life cycle, and major concerns and difficulties.
• CSCs, especially SMEs have access to best practices and legal guidance
• CSCs with the possibility to negotiate contracts (e.g. financial institutions, governments) can base terms and metrics on issues reflecting key market concerns.
The outcomes of the validation of the CRM can be used to leverage the creation of tools that integrate the calculation of the readiness index and the recommendation methodology.
The SLA-Ready Marketplace offers practical guides to the entire cloud service life cycle. The SLA Aid (sla-aid.sla-ready.eu)is an online tool available to CSCs which provides a customised checklist and roadmap for their adoption of cloud services. The SLA Aid plays a key role in breaking down entry barriers to cloud adoption by accelerating the time it takes to improve SME customer knowledge.
The SLA-Aid and SLA Repository can benefit CSPs in helping them to understand the most important customer requirements along the cloud service life cycle, and particularly major concerns and difficulties. CSPs can assess just how transparent and easy to use their SLA is from a customer perspective. Be it an SME or a procurer of cloud services such as the HN Science Cloud, SLA-Ready outputs can be used in different contexts for vetting SLAs.
SLA-Ready has laid the foundations for creating a culture of trust amongst CSPs. We have seen a real intention of CSPs to complete the self-assessment questionnaire and a willingness to publish their results in the SLA repository.
SME associations such as the Digital SME Alliance, ClujIT (Romania), CONETIC (Spain) and TechUK (UK) have promoted the outputs of SLA-Ready to SMEs. Further support from decision making bodies is required though, in particular in implementing the best practices emerging from SLA-Ready into governance structures if the benefits of services such as the SLA-Aid are to be felt. One way forward for the future would be to introduce the effort SLA-Ready has achieved and make the services and tools part of national digital agendas. End-user organisations like the ones represented by EuroCIO and National Bodies should also push their members to require such documents.
Through SME workshops SLA-Ready has identified a key need for similar awareness raising activities on new directives e.g. GDPR.
SLA-Ready has contributed to the establishment of the European Open Science Cloud by providing support to the HNSciCloud. SLA-Ready reviewed tender applications for the HNScience Cloud call for providers and winners of the tender completed the CSP questionnaire, with analysis provided to HNScience Cloud based on responses.
SLA Standardisation: SLA-Ready’s active participation in standards development is important to the EC’s objective on finalising international standards on SLAs by mid-2017 to ensure transparency and quality of end-users, especially SMEs.