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SLAs are needed to harness the Cloud

There are signs that firms are taking a more realistic standpoint on what it actually means to move to the public cloud.

Peter Williams, Chief Technology Officer, CJC

I sat on the “Clouding the Issue” panel at the World Financial Information Conference (WFIC) in Barcelona recently where, along with my fellow panellists, I discussed the cloud in front of an audience of industry professionals.  Though I need to respect event confidentiality rules, I can nonetheless relate my personal impressions and thoughts on the general mood around cloud and cloud adoption. 

Throughout the three-day event, I had various discussions with clients, friends and industry peers.  What became clear to me is that while positive declarations about public cloud strategy and public cloud adoption are now commonplace, if you dig a little deeper, you usually find that things are still in the very early stages.  In some cases, firms are not beyond the initial planning stages, particularly when it comes to the more business critical systems. It seems that a common stumbling block boils down to three little words; Service Level Agreement.  This is both surprising and refreshing as it shows that people are moving past the initial infatuation and are taking a more realistic standpoint on what it actually means to move to the public cloud.  It means that a more practical approach is being taken and that can only be a good thing, even to someone like me who’s passions will always be closely bound to the technology.  

The way I described it to a friend recently is that the public cloud is like buying a classic sports car. You’ve wanted one for a while, so it’s exciting and full of possibilities. You get one, but it’s only then that you realise the reality is not quite as you’d imagined.  You were focused on speed and style, but you didn’t really think about it drinking petrol, having no room for luggage or oil leaks.  

My point is that that when contemplating using a public cloud service for their systems, firms now appear to be taking into consideration factors beyond the technical.  They are looking at:

  • How does the cloud service integrate with their internal SLAs and OLAs ?
  • What service levels are they signing up to?
  • What are the guaranteed uptimes, response times for incidents and outages?
  • What service credits are they are entitled to should SLA breeches occur?

These factors are all absolutely essential and inform some of the major decisions around technology strategy in our industry.  

As I’ve said on numerous occasions, I see hybrid as the only option currently suitable to deliver best fit deployment models across the wide range of use cases in the capital markets.  Public cloud has its place and undeniable merits for the right uses cases.  However, as it stands, on-site deployments and private cloud are best suited for hosting sensitive systems, specialist, or high-performance technology and for where there are requirements for niche support skills and aggressive SLAs. 

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