The UK Cloud Industry Forum has published a code of practice aimed at promoting the adoption of cloud-based services.
The Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) was set up in 2009 to promote trust, security and transparency within the cloud computing services industry.
A lack of confidence in cloud-based technology is one of the biggest barriers to adoption, a survey of over 100 UK companies has revealed.
The CIF, which has developed a code of practice to overcome this barrier, completed a public consultation on a draft code of practice in August.
Since then, the code has been trialled in a pilot programme and refined in line with feedback from the consultation and under the guidance of an independent advisory panel drawn from end users, industry organisations, and legal experts.
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Some 69% of those polled by the CIF said a code of practice would be an important driver in selecting a supplier, and 28% said it would be essential.
From today, cloud service providers can sign up online for the self-certification process for the code of practice, which aims to standardise service offerings.
The code of practice forces organisations to review their operational practices and procedures, said Andy Burton, chairman of CIF and chief executive of Fasthosts.
"The code of practice is aimed at enabling organisations to choose between service providers based on common information in a common format," he said.
After downloading an assessment pack and completing a 6- to 12-week preparation process, organisations will submit documentation with an online questionnaire.
The package is assessed offline with detailed checks on 10% of applicants and spot checks on all. There is also a complaints and appeals process.
"Cases will be referred to the governance board for investigation and re-evaluation of certification if someone feels an organisation is making a claim that is untrue," said Burton.
This phase is about transparency to enable end users to make the right decision, but as they become more aware of the certification and more people are participating, they will be able to move to the next phase, which will be formulating best practice, he said.
The CIF hopes that within the next four months there will be enough organisations registered to demonstrate serious commitment of the industry to the code of practice.
"I expect it will take around a year before we have a sizeable number of organisations through the certification process," said Burton.
Once they have registered, they have to do some work to ensure they can stand by the claims they make and they have the required processes in place, he said.
Phil Wainewright, Eurocloud UK president said: "We welcome this initiative which has been launched today as it helps end users as they look to the industry to define and agree on best practices for cloud computing which they can rely on."