A report from the Cloud Legal Project at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, has forecast that the era of uniform, one-size-fits-all cloud computing contracts is at an end, according to an article from RedOrbit.com.

The report, "Negotiating Cloud Contracts – Looking at Clouds from Both Sides," identifies the six types of cloud contract terms most negotiated as provider liability, service level agreements, data protection and security, termination rights and lock-in/exit, unilateral amendments to service features and intellectual property rights. 

The researchers identified a need for service packages when it comes to negotiating cloud contracts, noting that many one-size-fits-all terms are actually non-compliant, invalid or unenforceable in certain countries, the article says.

“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 the Cloud Legal Project's lead academic, Professor Christopher Millard, in the article. “In the middle or low value markets, choice is still limited, and many contract terms are still inadequate or inappropriate for SME users’ needs, as they may lack the bargaining power to force contract changes.”

Cloud services and usage are still in their infancy, Millard commented, and contract terms, usage needs and service plans will develop over time. 

Developing varied cloud packages might dissatisfy users who are used to finding the cheapest services while requesting levels of contract terms and conditions, RedOrbit reports.

It’s as important for the users of cloud services to understand the issues as it is for providers. “Users may need to consider what functions should be migrated to cloud and on what basis, such as starting with pilots only, conducting risk assessments, and implementing internal controls,” the report states. For small businesses and enterprise companies, this means assigning these duties to an IT person or someone who can work with the company’s IT providers to implement procedures and best practices, says the RedOrbit article.