Industry analysts have repeatedly signaled that uncertainty around legal issues in cloud computing forms a barrier to adoption. Adopters question the rights and obligations of each party and what happens when one of the parties fails to fulfill their contract, and often even which jurisdiction will cover which issues of the contract.
Europe has been tackling this thorny issue for some time. Back in 2012 the then Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, published a manifesto on the three key strategic actions for Europe’s cloud sector, one of which was safe and fair contract terms and conditions. Later the Commission established the European Cloud Partnership (ECP) formed by industry executives and representatives of member states. Within the ECP, the Cloud Select Industry Group tackled specific issues including SLAs, certification and a data privacy code of conduct. A further EC group looked at cloud contracts. The SLA working group also liaises with the ISO working group on SLA standards. However the remit of all of these groups stopped short of providing actual contractual and technical models ready for adoption.
By financing SLALOM, the EC is investing in an initiative that grabs the bull by the horns, going that final mile to standardize the SLA contract small print and metrics in ready-to-use open models. As SLALOM coordinator Daniel Field, from global service provider ATOS, puts it “ISO will tell you WHAT. SLALOM will help you with HOW, turning theory into practice”. He continues to explain that this will allow providers to compete on their value proposition, not on perceptions. This is a potential boon for Europe, where cloud providers have generally lagged behind cloud giants based in the US, and are typically smaller and more niche.
The initiative is backed by the European Commission and the first stage of the initiative is financed through the H2020 programme, running for 18 months with a budget of 700,000 Euros under Grant agreement 644270. The initial members of the SLALOM consortium are global service provider ATOS (project lead), legal firm Bird and Bird (responsible for the legal track), the National Technical University of Athens (responsible for the technical track), the Cloud Industry Forum (responsible for the cloud service provider liaison track) and the University of Piraeus (responsible for the cloud adopter liaison track). External collaborators and contributors are welcome.