伦敦大学Queen Mary云计算法律项目的学术带头人，Christopher Millard说：“要想具有竞争优势，供应商们就不得不去考虑用户的需求，协商合作要更加灵活，更愿意去展示他们服务的安全性和稳定性”
研究人员还发现不同的供应商的SLAs是有区别的。例如，Amazon Web Services 提供99.95%的时间供用户正常使用和有效工作，而一些其它的云服务供应商提供高达99.999%的时间供用户正常使用。但是在这些供应商的服务中，供应商还没有针对个人用户提供可定制的云服务。
OnApp公司向服务供应商提供云平台，其CMO Kosten Metreweli说到，SLAs和独特的服务使供应商各具特色，这对供应商和用户都有好处。例如，对于一个云服务供应商来说增加2到9个点到达99.999%的有效使用时间成本是相当昂贵的，可是并不是所有的用户需要达到99.999%有效使用时间的级别。“杀鸡焉用牛刀？如果一个企业通过云服务仅仅用来运行测试和开发，不在云端进行生产级别的应用程序，那么它完全不需要99.999%的有效运行时间。”
Service-level agreements and legal standards for cloud offerings will become more customized to individual customers and vertical industries as the cloud market continues to mature and providers look for ways to differentiate their offerings, researchers at the University of London predict.
Providers today are in many cases looking to push "one-size-fits-all" contracts on customers that favor the provider, the researchers found, but they don't always meet the needs of customers. For example, some vertical industries, such as healthcare, government and finance, each have compliance requirements that need to be addressed before they can more fully embrace a cloud strategy. Providers are only beginning to offer these types of services, and it's a trend researchers expect will pick up steam.
"To remain competitive, providers may have to be more aware of user concerns, more flexible in negotiations, and more willing to demonstrate the security and robustness of their services," says Christopher Millard, lead academic on the Cloud Legal Project at Queen Mary, University of London.
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A three-year study by the team found that the six most negotiated terms of cloud contracts were: provider liability, service-level agreements, data protection and security, termination rights, unilateral amendments to service features and intellectual property rights. Those represent some of the top concerns users have regarding the cloud, says Ian Walden, another researcher.
"Companies are generally concerned about the cloud being another mechanism for corporate information to escape their entity," Walden says. "BYOD (bring your own device), combined with cloud-based solutions worry CIOs and security professionals that they are potentially losing control of their data." Providers are only beginning to realize this and create offerings to address such concerns, he says.
There are differences among SLAs from various providers, the researchers found. For example, Amazon Web Services offers 99.95% uptime and availability, whereas many other cloud providers offer up to 99.999% uptime. But within the offerings from the providers, they are not yet customizing them to individual customers on a large scale, the study found.
Kosten Metreweli, CMO at OnApp, which provides a cloud platform for service provider, says SLAs and unique features offer a way for providers to differentiate themselves, and that's good for both providers and users. For example, it can be costly for a provider to add another 9 or two to increase the availability up to 99.999%. But, not all customers need that level of uptime guarantee. "You don't buy a Ferrari and go to the grocery store with it," he says, noting that if a company is just running test and development and not production-grade applicationsin the cloud, then there may not be a need for 99.999% uptime.
Providers that can give customers the level of service, and the prices they desire, will be able to differentiate themselves in the market. Providers can also differentiate on compliance and regulatory uptime. Not all customers will need a HIPPA or FISMA-compliant cloud offering, but the ones who do may be willing to pay a little extra for it.
"In a world where cloud infrastructure is rapidly commoditizing, it's essential for service providers to differentiate on some level," he says. SLA's could be that avenue.