Cloud Service Customers : You Have 6 Rights and 1 Responsibility

Today's cloud computing environment is relatively complex - so complex in fact, that it has motivated Gartner’s Global IT Council for Cloud Services to identify the six key rights (and one responsibility) to serve as a best-practices guideline for enterprises looking to deploy cloud-based solutions. The ultimate goal: to help cloud providers and their customers establish successful business relationships. The recent report released by Gartner says all cloud services customers should have some basic rights to protect their interests. We’ll briefly outline their ideas :

What are your rights as the consumer?

1. The right to retain ownership, use and control one's own data

Service consumers should retain ownership and rights to their own data. The provider must specify exactly what it can do with the consumer's data and any contract must provide for the clear disposition of the service consumer's data, in the case that the provider can no longer provide service.

2. The right to service-level agreements that address liabilities, remediation and business outcomes

All computing services suffer slowdowns and failures at some point along the line. However, cloud services providers rarely commit to recovery times or spell out details of the remediation process. The provider's contract should not simply guarantee an x amount of turnaround time; it should really specify how it plans to deliver the remedy.

3. The right to notification and choice about changes that affect the service consumers' business processes

Every service provider needs at some point to interrupt its services or make other changes in order to increase capacity and ensure that its infrastructure will serve consumers adequately in the long term. However they should give advanced notification of major upgrades or system changes, and grant the consumer some control over the timing of the switch.

4. The right to understand the technical limitations or requirements of the service up front

A lot of service providers fail to fully explain their own systems, technical requirements and limitations, leaving consumers at risk of not being able to adjust to major changes, at least not without a big investment. To save problems in the long-run for both parties, both service consumers and providers must do a better job of keeping each other informed about their technical limitations, particularly for complex, long-term projects.

5. The right to understand the legal requirements of jurisdictions in which the provider operates

If the cloud provider stores or transports the consumer's data in or through a foreign country, the service consumer becomes subject to laws and regulations it may not know anything about. Service providers should explain which jurisdictions they put data in and what legal requirements the service consumer must therefore meet. The consumer needs reassurance that the provider is not violating any rules for which the consumer may be held accountable.

6. The right to know what security processes the provider follows

Service consumers must understand the processes a provider uses, so that security at one level (such as the server) does not compromise security at another level (such as the network). Service consumers also need to understand the provider's business continuity plans, so that they can ensure that their own operations continue in the case of an emergency.

What is your responsibility as the consumer?

You have the responsibility to understand and adhere to software license requirements…

Providers and consumers must reach an understanding about how the proper use of software licenses will be assured. On one hand, providers must not be held liable if the consumer violates the licensing agreement by putting the software it licenses from a third party in the cloud. On the other hand, the provider should not agree to an audit directly by the vendor, if the consumer owns the software licenses.

So, to quickly sum up all of the above.. As Daryl Plummer, managing vice president and Gartner fellow says : "Respecting these rights will require effort and expense from providers, but securing the rights will encourage enterprises to put more of their business into the cloud". Here at We Are Cloud we think these are all valid points, which is why we strive to be as transparent as possible, and we do everything we can to honor the rights of our customers.