> Cover Story
may promise the five nines (99.999%) when presenting proposals,
but it is really the SLA that guarantees consistent Quality
of Service (QoS), network uptime/performance, and delivery
of specific services.
An SLA (Service Level Agreement) is a contract that outlines
the responsibilities of an IT services provider, the rights
of the users and the penalties a service provider suffers
if the SLA is violated. It also defines the service offering
itself, plus the supported products, evaluation criteria,
and QoS that customers should expect.
What is its purpose?
SLA is a written agreement between a service provider and
client that documents the agreed levels for a service. The
purpose of having an SLA is:
To clearly state the type and levels of services to
To define the scope of the
Identify performance objectives for the delivery of
Document the business units and individuals within those
units who are responsible for meeting those conditions
Balance customer demands and
expectations with cost of service provision
Define measurable service levels and measurement criteria
Specify the outputs and deliverables of the service
Provide a baseline for quality improvement
Provide a base for further outsourcing (underpinning
contracts) to several other service providers.
In effect, the SLA codifies the interpersonal and operational
working relationships between customer and MSP. Because
such relationships differ from case to case, SLAs will differ.
Why are they necessary?
SLAs makes the MSP aware of the targets it has to achieve.
Through the SLA, both MSP and client can provide evidence
of actual performance.
An SLA helps the client and the MSP to determine the success
or failure of the outsourcing partnership in
operational terms as well as in financial terms.
What should an SLA state?
A good SLA should cover the following aspects of service
Parties, contacts and formal authorized signatures
Reporting and reviewing process (Content & Frequency)
Roles & responsibilities
Incentives and penalties
Business objectives & scope
Procedures for updating the SLA
Setting priority or severity
Service level penalties
Performance report on SLA
Transaction response time