Until now, cloud service providers have essentially proposed to their users the equivalent of those click-through terms of service that people accept because they don’t have a choice. As for the standards that would make it less risky to adopt a cloud service, by making it easier to integrate with or to migrate to a different provider, they have been vendor-driven and highly technical; these standards are necessary but not sufficient.
In 2013, look forward to more user involvement in prioritizing the standards development effort, and to the emergence of practical advice to negotiate more balance SLAs and User Agreements. In the area of performance and reliability, providers will have to stop hiding behind the “nature of the Internet” (a term used by Amazon in the past to refuse to guarantee anything). Some will start providing a clear commitment to handle their part of potential availability issues, and to proactively monitor the end-to-end performance and notify customers of degradations. This new attitude will become a competitive advantage. In the area of security and privacy, providers currently demand compliance to strict rules but offer nothing in return. But once the Cloud Standards Customer Council publishes its detailed guide to Cloud SLAs, expected in March 2013, suppliers will feel the pressure to provide a reciprocal commitment to safeguarding their clients’ (and their clients’ clients’) data.
[Editor's Note: This post is part of the annual "Cutter Predicts ..." series.]