We must never forget that the ultimate aim of every computer system is to deliver functionality to its users. Computer users typically do not care about terabytes of storage and gigahertz of processor speed. In fact, many companies and government agencies have “gotten out of the technology business” entirely by outsourcing their data centers to third-party specialists. These outsourcing agreements tend to be highly complex and prescribe every aspect of the hardware configuration. Along with the detailed hardware specifications, service-level agreements (SLAs) act as warranties and provide penalties if certain parameters of system performance and availability are not met. Both contracting parties ...

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