Outsourcing T's And C's: Will Cloud Suppliers Act More Like Outsourcing Suppliers Or Vice Versa?

Corporate customers of cloud services are not having much fun when negotiating with emerging cloud suppliers.

Forrester clients seeking support for their longstanding contractual preferences ranging from access to supplier data centers for due diligence to more robust terms for liability and mutual indemnity, just to name a few examples, are facing frustration when cloud suppliers refuse to accommodate them. While cloud suppliers themselves are mindful of their need to be more flexible for large enterprise customers in theory, actual concessions are few and far between, and in some cases customers either grin and bear it or walk away.

Is it only a matter of time before cloud suppliers accommodate the same kinds of concessions and flexibility routinely accommodated by traditional outsourcing firms? Not necessarily. It is tempting to think that increased flexibility on the part of cloud providers will inevitably grow as a consequence of greater maturity; the reality is more complex. The very outsourcing suppliers that have routinely accepted these requests are becoming less anxious to take additional risk in client engagements, especially while cloud suppliers are allowed to skate around potentially thorny issues like liability. Yes, the outsourcing suppliers are willing to provide an indirect contracting model for cloud services while taking on additional service delivery risk in many cases, but there are limits to their forbearance.

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