by Dave Twohy
In my last blog, we started to talk about how cloud computing is beginning to open new avenues of efficiency for CIOs. However, there are also some new challenges with cloud computing including shadow IT, SLA management, and proprietary data leaving the protected confines of internal infrastructure. And this got me thinking about Public Cloud…
...so let me set some context for the next part of this discussion. When any of us go out onto the web and purchase a service, or buy software, or pay for premium content, there is a seemingly innocuous little step that happens before we get access our content or service - we agree to “terms & conditions”. When the time comes for this step, a terms & conditions pop up box typically appears with two options: accept and proceed or decline and exit. There is no “negotiate” button; at least none that I’ve ever encountered.
So, with that in mind, I actually went out and I looked at the type of terms I’d be signing up for if I wanted to buy a Public Cloud service. I was particularly interested in: What were they really offering customers? If you turn on one of their services what are you really signing up for? In order to be fair, I went and visited several very popular sites for cloud services to see if the data was consistent. What I found was pretty revealing, and three sections of the T&C’s in particular were eye opening.
When you hit the accept button, from an indemnification point of view you’ve agreed to some pretty significant terms that I suspect most legal folks would get pretty upset about. (I’m pretty sure my legal team would get heartburn over the indemnification terms I read).
This gets into the service level agreements, or SLAs. What I saw included examples such as “the service is provided ‘as is’, including any warranty that the offering will be uninterrupted”, or “any of the content will be error free”. And there were more…all of which led me to wonder if business units that are purchasing these services really understand what they’re signing up for when they purchase public Cloud services.
Limitations of liability
According to the terms I read, the cloud service provider won’t be liable for any type of damage – whether that’s profits, good will, use or data. So here’s what I concluded after looking at all of this: there is no SLA. At least not how a traditional IT shop would define one. If any problem occurs, they’ve already told you that they will not be responsible. Legally - there is no remediation available whatsoever. Further, if there’s a problem, you, the customer are actually responsible for indemnification. That’s a pretty one-sided contract, quite frankly, but when you hit that accept button and proceed – that is exactly what you are agreeing to.
Don’t take my word for it - take a look for yourselves.
That’s the down-side of the reality of public cloud offerings. Now what’s the plus side?
The plus side is that these services are available very rapidly, and anybody with a credit card can turn on these services in a matter of minutes. If a user knows what he or she needs to do, and knows what kind of service they need, they can go get it quickly and very, very easily. There is a big advantage to that, and in some cases it makes perfect sense for IT to leverage these kinds of offerings.
To close, I had a discussion recently with a client who discovered that he had a public cloud “problem” in his enterprise the hard way. How did he figure out that they had a public cloud “problem”? He performed a routine audit and saw a bunch of services showing up on corporate Amex cards. When they started to dig into these purchases, they realized that a new form of shadow IT was established and growing inside their company, and completely outside the control (or even view) of IT. He reviewed the T&C’s that his business units were agreeing to, was very concerned about the risk profile, and stepped in to help. He told me that wanted to aggregate his spend to 1) drive down unit costs, and 2) to negotiate T&C’s for the enterprise. I asked him how all of that was going, and his response: “the 1st one? Fine, no problem. We nogatiated an enterprise pricing schedule pretty quickly. The 2nd one? We’ve been negotiating terms for 6 months and we’re still negotiating.”
So, what is YOUR company doing with Public cloud today? Are you on a brilliant path, or a perilous one? Or perhaps both?? Let me know what you think…
Also - check out HP’s new Cloud Services @ http://www8.hp.com/us/en/business-services/it-serv
We can help you understand, plan and navigate your path to the Cloud.
Dave Twohy is WW VP of HP’s Technology Services Channel Organization. He has 23 years of experience in the IT industry and has worked extensively with large and small enterprises and channel partners around the world. He is a frequent speaker at industry events, partner conferences, and HP’s customer experience center.