What to Look for in a Cloud Storage SLA - Page 2


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Other key SLA terms for cloud storage services cover geography—where the data is stored—as well as security and privacy. Most service providers like as much flexibility as possible when it comes to where you data is stored, so it's up to you as the customer to ensure the SLA restricts data to certain geographies or provides suitable security measures if that is necessary to comply with data privacy or other industry regulations.

It's also worth spelling out in the storage SLA what happens if there are changes to privacy laws or compliance procedures that mean you need your storage provider to change the location of your data or put additional security measures in place. Kratz recommends that your SLA should include a term about regulatory change assistance that specifies that changes will be at your cost, but that the service provider should make the changes and charge for them at normal or pre-agreed rates. Failure to do this leaves you at the mercy of the service provider to carry out the changes without charging excessive or unexpectedly high rates.

Robert Frances Group's Cal Braunstein also recommends reading the agreement carefully to see what rights the cloud storage provider has to read your data. "The provider needs the right to read your data to move it—perhaps to a different tier of storage. You wouldn't want them to be able to go through it and analyse it for non-support purposes—perhaps to get new business prospects—but some SLAs don't mention that." His point is that if something is not expressly dealt with in an SLA, you shouldn't assume that it is not an issue.

Another key SLA consideration is about getting your stored data back if you decide to switch providers. "Service providers always say that you can get data back, but the big question is when," says Robert Mahowald, an analyst at IDC. "You need to ask how long it will take them to get it to you and it what form? Will it be a CSV file? Or can the data be migrated to the database of your choice—will it be usable or will it need transformation? And can you get all the copies of your data? Data availability is key, so you need to push for these details in an SLA."

You also need to tie down whether you will be expected to pay for storage during the time that the service provider is returning data to you, whether you have to pay for service provider staff to return your data, and whether there are extra charges for cleaning up archived data as well, he concludes.

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