Service Level Agreements

Traditionally, the service level agreement (SLA) has been thought of as pertaining to technologies that require a particular quality of service (QOS) in order to ensure availability and response time on a network. QOS also applies to cloud computing but in that context must be expanded past availability and response time to include other business parameters, like data retention and drivers of business continuity. The cloud SLA is essential so organizations know the minimum level of service they can expect and the providers know the minimum level of service they must provide. The SLA must also specify what occurs when a provider does not meet the SLA's business parameters. The overarching purposes of the SLA are as follows:

  • Identify and define the customer's needs.
  • Provide a framework for understanding.
  • Simplify complex issues.
  • Reduce areas of conflict.
  • Encourage dialogue in the event of disputes.
  • Eliminate unrealistic expectations.1

A typical SLA includes the following specifications: (1) service availability, (2) the length of time a provider has to rectify any issue with the service, and (3) service monitoring. These specifications are set out in a number of measurable objectives and consequences in case they are not met. Typically, there are two types of QOS objectives: (1) operational (e.g., mean time between failures), and (2) service specific (e.g., availability or delay).2 Operational and service specific objectives are discussed next ...

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