From an IT perspective, cloud computing is amazing. Although, from a vendor management and contract management perspective, it’s not. Like a bad haunted house, it’s full of “gotchas” around every corner, not only in the contract language but in the SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) that don’t allow you to effectively manage the vendor when things go wrong.
What’s so difficult about cloud computing SLA’s? Well, to name a few…
1) Silver, Gold and Platinum are not your friends. When reviewing the contract, take a look at the SLA’s. Do you have a choice of “Silver”, “Gold” or “Platinum” service plans to choose from? It seems pretty easy, right? Yes and no. It’s like one of those burritos at the 7-11. They’re wrapped up nicely underneath those hot lamps in that silver foil. When you’re desperate, you’ll buy one, only to open it up in the car and realize that it’s a molten blob of artery clogging goo that smells like roadkill. It’s similar with these cloud service plans. If you have mission critical systems that will be running in the cloud, closely analyze these service plans and fully understand how your Sev 1 issues will truly be handled. Otherwise, you’re in for a bumpy ride on the burrito express.
2) Pray for 90.0% uptime and hope you get 91.0%. It’s really amazing that these vendors can get away with 90.0% uptime. What’s your company’s SLA around uptime? Do you have one? If not, it should be at least 99.99% (if not 99.999%). However, most cloud providers will fool you into thinking that 90.0% uptime ain’t so bad. Is it? Yes, it actually is. In fact, if you do the math (and this is pretty scary, so hold onto your hat) on 90.0% uptime, it comes out to 36 days and 12 hours of downtime per year (in a non-leap year). Can your company handle this much downtime? Really? I didn’t think so.
3) Everyone has the same SLA’s. Everyone that purchases the product from the vendor is on the same version, and everyone has the same SLA’s. Going back to the Silver, Gold and Platinum plans, there is no deviation from these SLA’s and they’re mostly in favor of the vendor. So, what to do? Don’t choose the first cloud vendor that you met at that great conference in San Francisco. Put it out for an RFI / RFQ / RFP and see what each vendor’s capabilities and SLA’s are before buying. It’ll save you heartache (and heartburn) in the long run, I promise.