What Goes into a Cloud Services SLA?
by December 7, 2016

Filed under: Industry Insights

How many cloud services SLAs do you have in place today? As cloud services continue to drive your business, the number will grow and you might become numb to SLA fine print. However, it’s important to ensure each SLA has your best interests in mind.

Don’t settle for just any cloud services SLA. Know what should be included in the agreement when choosing the vendor for your next cloud application.

Service-Level Agreements Aren’t Just About Availability

In the strictest sense, SLAs refer to the availability of cloud services for your company. Depending on how critical uptime is for a certain application, you might pay for three, four, or even five nines of availability. But you can’t just sign an SLA based on service availability.

While availability is a critical aspect of any cloud services SLA, there’s much more you should be paying attention to if you want to maximize your experience.

5 Tips for Negotiating a Solid Cloud Services SLA

Once you’ve ensured your SLA has your best interests in mind in terms of availability, you can move on to other important clauses in the agreement. Here are five other pieces of a cloud services SLA that you should be paying attention to:

  • Mean Time to Respond/Repair: Your SLA should include specifics about when the service provider will respond to disruptions. This is typically broken into tiers of severity, but make sure you have a say in determining the definitions of those tiers.
  • Escalation Path for Troubleshooting: Every time you take an application out of your data center in favor of a SaaS platform, you sacrifice a certain level of control. One consequence is that you can’t call your in-house system admin for any troubleshooting scenarios. Instead, you’re often left to call the service provider’s contact center. Use your SLA to define an escalation path that gets you in contact with a manager for the service provider who can quickly address your issues.
  • Ownership of Cloud Data: When you’ve implemented a cloud service, it’s easy to grow so comfortable with it that you feel a sense of ownership. However, some service providers (especially in a licensing scenario) will limit what you can do with data collected through its platform. Check to see if your SLA allows you to use data the way you expect to.
  • Software Security Standards: There’s an inherent understanding that your service provider will take ownership of system infrastructure and security. However, you may want your SLA to include the right to audit service provider compliance to ensure your company is protected.
  • Disaster Recovery Guarantees: Availability is one thing, but your SLA should clearly detail how the service provider will react to a worst-case scenario. Even the best availability guarantees can be diminished by inefficient disaster recovery plans.

Implementing cloud services is not a set-it-and-forget-it process. If you want to keep your cloud service providers accountable, you need an SLA that offers clear details of what type of user experience is owed to you.

One problem with sustaining accountability is that tracking metrics and end-user experience for cloud services can prove challenging. If you want to learn how you can stay on top of your cloud services and enforce your SLAs, download this free guide, The 5 Network Metrics You Should Keep to See into the Cloud.