Defining Service Level Agreements

A service level agreement (SLA) is a document that captures the understanding between a service user and a service provider that defines uptime, availability, and performance. The SLA is also the contractual agreement between the participants in a service delivery contract. In the world of computing, an SLA is typically written based on the expectation that a system could be operational 99.99 percent of the month. It may also specify that the service provider’s help desk will respond to an outage in a set amount of time. Also, there’s an expectation that the service provider will not share a company’s information with anyone and that data will be preserved for a set period of time and backed up on a regular basis.

SLAs inside the firewall

Typically, two types of SLAs are in a traditional on-premises computing environment:

check.png An SLA between the business and IT

check.png An SLA between the business and an outside services provider

In both situations, a contract specifies both expectations and penalties. Clearly, an SLA with an outside service provider is more explicit because it’s a legally binding contract.

Between the business and IT, the SLA takes on a different flavor. For example, members of the accounting department may need the assurance that they will ...

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