DBG considers the recommendations on outsourcing to cloud service providers as sufficiently clear and feasible to account for specificities arising within the context of outsourcing, expect from few selected aspects. We are of the opinion that within the context of access and audit right as well as chain outsourcing further clarification should be provided in order to avoid misinterpretation and ensure a consistent application of the recommendations.
4.3. Access and audit rights
- Point 6 lit. (a) of the draft recommendations requires that the contractual basis ensures (among others) the outsourcing institution’s right to access the cloud service provider’s “business premises, including the full range of devices, systems, networks and data used for providing the services outsourced”. Lit. (b) requires further, that the cloud service providing entity confers an “unrestricted right of inspection and audit” to the outsourcing institution. While we consider the institution’s right to access and audit as generally reasonable, the phrasing of point 6 lit. (a) and (b) is to broad, as the audit right seems to cover unrestricted access to all data centres and systems as well as the right of unrestricted collection of data for the purpose of conferred inspections.
As already pointed out by EBA during the Q&A session of the public hearing on 20 June 2017, such wide exercise of the right to access and audit might pose (additional) operational risks to the cloud service provider resulting from clients’ multiple inspections of data centres and systems. While such broad rights do not necessarily contribute to the performance of the institution’s ultimate responsibility for the outsourced activity or function, it might discourage cloud service providers to agree to audit and access rights as recommended by EBA to institutions and therefore stop them from offering their services.
In order to avoid misinterpretations of the right to “full access to its [the cloud service providers] business premises, including the full range of devices, systems, networks and data used for providing the services outsourced” as stated in point 6 lit. (a), we would highly appreciate a clarifying amendment of the aforementioned issue in accordance with EBA’s explained appraisal.
For that purpose, we suggest to amend paragraph 6 lit. (a) as follows:
„(a) to provide the institution, to any third party appointed for that purpose by the institution and to the institution’s statutory auditor full access to its business premises, including the full range of devices, systems, networks and data used for providing the services outsourced (right of access) where reasonably necessary to fulfil rights of audit of the institution and in a way avoiding operational risk for the cloud service provider and its remaining customers;”
- Point 8 requires outsourcing institutions to make use of (suggested) tools for exercising their right to audit, “where an outsourcing institution does not employ own audit resources”. Among others, pooled audits (s. point 8 lit (a)) are considered as such a tool.
Under consideration of the current developments within the context of outsourcing to cloud service providers and the approaches favoured by affected market participants for meeting the requirement to exercise the outsourcing institution’s right to audit, we would like to point out, that pooled audits are expected to be the rule rather than the exemption. Read conservatively, the current wording restricts pooled audits to cases, where no own resources are available. However, we understand that this is not intended. In order to avoid misinterpretation in such way that the exercise of the right to audit through own audit resources is to be preferred compared to suggested audit tools, (i.e. that such tools should only be used if own audit resources are not available) we suggest to rephrase point 8 in such way, that the usage of the tools is not linked in any way to the institution’s own audit resources:
“8. The outsourcing institution should exercise its right to audit and its right to access in a risk based manner. Apart from using own audit resources for the purpose of exercising its right of audit, the outsourcing institution can use (at least) one of the following tools: […]”
4.7 Chain outsourcing
- Sentence two of point 21 of the draft recommendations states that “the outsourcing institution should agree to chain outsourcing only if …”. While the wording of “should agree” implies that the institution’s explicit consent is required, the draft recommendations’ accompanying documents states under the “Assessment of the technical options - Exhaustive and prescribed list of requirements vs. non-exhaustive list”, that the requirement for explicit consent, when the outsourcer intends to change subcontractors, has not been included purposely.
We kindly ask to adjust the wording of sentence two point 21 of the draft recommendations to reflect EBA’s expectations as outlined in the draft recommendations’ accompanying documents.
- Moreover, the abovementioned sentence contains the requirement that the subcontractor has to “fully comply with the obligations existing between the outsourcing institution and the outsourcing service provider”. Due to the different contractual subjects, which might be fundamental, underlying the respective relationship, we are of the opinion that it is not feasible that the service agreement between the cloud service provider and the subcontractor mirrors the agreement between the outsourcing institution and the cloud service provider fully. Therefore, we suggest aligning the wording of sentence two of point 21 to subparagraph 2 of Guideline 10 of the CEBS Guideline on outsourcing, which requires that contractual terms agreed between the outsourcing service provider and the subcontractor shall “conform, or at least not be contradictory, to the provisions of the agreement with the outsourcing institution”.
- In addition, clarification is demanded on whether this requirement encompasses also that the outsourcing institution shall retain an access and audit right at the level of the subcontractor.
- Point 23 requires cloud service providers to inform the outsourcing institution of “any proposed significant changes to the subcontractor or the subcontractors services.” With regard to the interpretation of what is to be considered “significant” in this context, EBA provided guidance during the public hearing held, referring to potential effects on the outsourcing institution’s risk profile resulting from the proposed changes. We would appreciate the inclusion of such interpretation into the draft recommendations in order to ensure a consistent application of rules.
At present, DBG does not see the need to cover additional areas by the proposed recommendations, in order to be able to achieve convergence of practice within the context of cloud computing. We consider the scope of the draft recommendations in generally suitable to achieve convergence in the context of could outsourcing, as relevant peculiarities of cloud outsourcing have been captured.
Nevertheless, EBA should consider an appropriate transitional period for implementation in order to achieve convergence in practice properly. Referring to the presentation to the public hearing on recommendations on outsourcing to cloud service providers, final recommendations are expected to be issued in H2/2017, whereby application is envisaged mid-2018. Hence, after the final recommendations will have been published, institutions will have in total less than 12 months to comply with the requirements resulting from the recommendations.
We consider the envisaged transitional period of less than 12 months as not being sufficient to account for necessary adjustments of existing general outsourcing structures as well as implementation of new requirements institutions might face. We consider a period of 24 months as appropriate to adequately take the time needed to implement the full scope of recommendations into account (in particular, amendments to the underlying outsourcing agreements as well as implementation and maintenance of registers, as required by point 4 of the draft recommendations, might be time consuming).