As more and more consumers outsource their infrastructure to cloud providers, Service Level Agreements between consumers and providers is a key topic. According to IBM a Service Level Agreement „defines how the consumer will use the services and how the provider will deliver them”.
It is essential for the consumer of cloud services to understand all the terms of the cloud’s provider and to consider the needs and objectives of his enterprise before signing an agreement.
A Service Level Agreement should contain the following aspects:
- A list of the services the provider will deliver and a complete definition of each service.
- Metrics to determine if the provider is delivering the service as promised and an auditing mechanism to monitor the service.
- Responsibilities of the provider and the consumer and remedies available to both if the terms of the SLA are not met.
- A description of how the SLA will change over time.
Before signing an agreement, the customer should thoroughly inform in regards to the types of SLA’s that exist: off-the-shelf, customized or negotiated agreements. Clients with critical data or applications are recommended to negotiate their agreements in order to meet their needs.
Customers and providers should collaborate when putting in place a cloud software Service Level Agreement so that the provider services would best fit the customer’s needs. As discussed in the article Most common problems with the adoption of SaaS and how to overcome them, problems occurred with cloud providers can be avoided with a solid Service Level Agreement. I also have some other recommendations before signing an agreement:
- Read your cloud provider’s SLA very carefully
- Get the technical staff involved in the process of validating SLAs against common outages scenarios
- Have your own back-up plan to support worse case scenarios. Never leave this responsibility only for your provider.
Final tip, a Service Level Agreement should be beneficial for both the customer and the provider and the best solution for the business.
Photo source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1221951.