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August 28, 2013

EGI Cloud: SLAs and Summer School

Tiffany Trader

As cloud computing has evolved, so have users’ expectations. Increasingly, users are demanding clearly specified, legally binding service level agreements (SLA) from their cloud providers. The EGI is providing guidance on this important aspect of cloud computing in a new European Commission report, called Cloud Computing Service Level Agreements.

“The rapid evolution of the cloud market is leading to the emergence of new services, new ways for service provisioning and new interaction and collaboration models both amongst cloud providers and service ecosystems exploiting cloud resources,” write the report’s authors.

“Service Level Agreements (SLAs) govern the aforementioned relationships by defining the terms of engagement for the participating entities,” they continue. “Besides setting the expectations by dictating the quality and the type of service, SLAs are also increasingly considered by the providers as the key differentiator to achieve competitive advantage.”

The report introduces recommendations for the complete SLA lifecycle and documents the on-going policy work on SLAs performed by the Cloud Select Industry Group (SIG). For the 11 key recommendations, the comprehensive 61-page document sets out a path to implementation, including a goal, proposed steps and potential contributors.

“There are many kinds of clouds out there and there is not just one special ‘Cloud SLA.'” explains Michel Drescher, EGI.eu’s Technical Manager. “For example at EGI we are providing an Infrastructure as a Service cloud platform. This is very different to what others are doing so we’re creating template SLAs to make it easier for small communities to get up and running.”

In other EGI cloud news, EGI.eu and the University of Messina provided training for users of the EGI Federated Cloud at the Cloud Summer School Almere, from July 22-26, 2013. The course provided students with hands-on experience on actual resources located in the Czech Republic (CESnet) and in Spain (CESGA).

In the past, instruction had been based on a simplified local test cloud, but this was the first time that the secure production cloud was employed in training exercises. Students ran their applications in a real secure federated cloud environment. EGI.eu plans to use this model as the template for further training sessions.

Leading the effort were Michel Drescher with EGI and Massimo Villari, professor at the University of Messina. Local support was provided by the Windesheim University and Genias Benelux.

“For us this is a step towards Cloud 2.0. where everything is much easier to set up,” reported Massimo Villari.

“For EGI.eu this was a very good experience, getting out of our comfort zone and not only provide services to scientists, but also to tutors. I also learned a lot from working with the students that brought in some fresh ideas,” said Michel Drescher.

An interview with these project leads is available on YouTube.

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