Cloud computing represents a novel on-demand computing technology where resources are provisioned in compliance to a set of predefined non-functional properties specified and negotiated by means of service level agreements (SLAs). Currently, cloud providers strive to achieve efficient SLA enforcement strategies to avoid costly SLA violations during application provisioning and to timely react to failures and environmental changes. These strategies include advanced application deployment mechanisms and appropriate resource monitoring concepts. In terms of cloud resource monitoring, providers tend to adopt existing monitoring tools, such as those from grid environments. However, those tools are usually restricted to locality and homogeneity of monitored objects, are not scalable, and do not support mapping of low-level resource metrics (e.g., system uptime and downtime) to high-level application-specific SLA parameters (e.g., system availability). In this paper, we present a novel low-level metrics to high-level SLA (LoM2HiS) framework for managing the monitoring of low-level resource metrics and mapping them to high-level SLAs and an application deployment mechanism for scheduling and provisioning applications in clouds. The LoM2HiS framework provides the application deployment mechanism with monitored information and SLA violation prevention techniques, thereby ensuring the performance of the applications and thus increasing the revenue of the cloud provider by avoiding SLA violation penalty cost. This framework is the building block of the Foundations of Self-governing ICT Infrastructures project, which intends to facilitate autonomic SLA management and enforcement. Thus, the LoM2HiS framework detects future SLA violation threats and can notify the knowledge component to act so as to avert the threats. We discuss in detail the conceptual design of the LoM2HiS framework and the application deployment mechanism including their implementations. Finally, we present our evaluation results based on a use-case scenario demonstrating the usage of the LoM2HiS framework in a real cloud environment. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.