How to Ensure High Service Levels in Cloud Computing

by Tori Johnson on August 13, 2010

There are many definitions of “Cloud computing” but I like this one:

Cloud computing is a technology that uses the Internet and central remote servers to maintain data and applications. Cloud computing allows consumers and businesses to use applications without installation and access their personal files at any computer with Internet access. This technology allows for much more efficient computing by centralizing storage, memory, processing and bandwidth because it  provides cheap and pay-as-you-go computing resources …

Cloud computing allows a company large or small to implement word processing financial and other applications (called services) without investing in hardware or software. Cloud providers sell these “services” to companies by charging either month to month or annual fees.  Some companies offer pay as you use cloud services.


Any company obtaining cloud computing services should make certain that they have a detailed signed Service Level Agreement( SLA).  An SLA  is an agreement between the cloud computing provider and the company.  A good SLA agreement should contain :

  • the services provided by the cloud provider
    (including service availability, performance)
  • responsibilities of the cloud provider
  • responsibilities of the owner of the company
  • guarantees from the cloud provider,
  • warranties

Availability, performance, maintenance, backup, disaster recovery and backup procedures of contracted cloud services should also be part of an SLA agreement.

SLA’s are important documents that give companies a basis to analyze the effectiveness and performance of the services they have purchased.

Monitoring SLA’s

Although cloud services are inexpensive, which is why a lot of small business use them, the main thing to understand is that the company who purchases cloud services does not own the servers on which their data resides.  Because of this any company that is going to contract services from a cloud provider, should determine how it is going to monitor those services, hence their data, before anyone signs an SLA agreement.

Third Part Monitoring Services

Third party cloud monitoring services can be easily found by surfing the Internet. Most of these companies provide the customer with reports that enable a company to monitor services based on SLA specifications.

In House (On-Premise) Software

Today there are a growing number of companies that are running SaaS, cloud, managed environments, and legacy data centers.  These companies would probably prefer to monitor their cloud services in-house. There is an entire industry of companies that have developed software that allows a company to monitor cloud services on-premise including “see as you go-pay as you go,” unified monitoring solutions and combined security-based monitoring solutions.

It’s really rather simple. Cloud services are out-sourced services. The off-premise user does not own the server on which the data resides or the software application that processes the data. When a company contracts a cloud computing provider it should have a signed detailed SLA. Cloud computing customers should always implement monitoring policies and procedures to insure that it obtains the service that it is paying for.

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