As organizations move their systems, applications and data to the cloud, an SLA (Service Level Agreement) with the selected cloud services provider should be considered to guarantee the maintenance of a minimum level of service. A cloud SLA ensures that the cloud providers meet certain enterprise-level requirements and provide an organization a clearly defined set of deliverables. Consider that cloud infrastructure can span geographies, networks and systems – both physical and virtual. 

Note, that public cloud storage services typically provide the same service levels for all users. Whereas, private cloud storage providers may be able to provide more customization.

But, what should be included within the SLA?

Look for:

  • Volume & Quality of Work – including precision and accuracy
  • Speed
  • Responsiveness - specific amount of response time for reporting and addressing system failures
  • Efficiency
  • Services provided
  • Prioritized areas
  • Responsibilities – of both parties
  • Guarantees & Financial Penalties
  • Warranties
  • Governance
  • Security Specifications
  • Encryption Practices: data privacy, disaster recovery expectations, data location, data access and data portability
  • Compliance
  • Performance
  • Uptime statistics

SLA’s should include: 

  • Measurable and specific levels of service
  • Clearly defined metrics
  • How financial penalties are paid (most often tiered and issued by credit).
  • QoS (Quality of Service) measurements, so services can be benchmarked and rewarded or penalized accordingly.
  • Service availability - specifying the maximum amount of time a real request can take, how many retries are allowed, etc.
  • Technical definitions such as MTBF (mean time between failures) or MTTR (mean time to repair) to specify target or minimum value for service-level performance.
  • Data protection processes - noting responsibilities of each party, acceptable performance parameters, applications and services covered, procedure for monitoring service levels and a schedule for the remediation of changes.

Also, consider your organization’s future growth. If you are experiencing significant growth, the SLA you enter into today may not be sufficient for the long-haul. Make sure that intervals for reviewing the SLA are built into the agreement so that you can adequately meet your business needs.

Finally, don’t forget to include an exit strategy that outlines the provider’s expectations to facilitate a smooth departure should the need arise.

There are a lot of aspects to SLAs, but don’t despair. An agnostic technology agent or consultant can help you secure the SLA that fits what you’re trying to accomplish at no cost to you. In addition to assisting you with procurement they can also handle ongoing care.

To learn more about the agent value proposition and how you can benefit, click here.


About Comtel

Comtel Communications, a telecom/technology consulting agency based in Richmond, Virginia since 1991, provides best-in-class solutions and unbiased counsel to a diverse group of small, medium, and enterprise-level businesses, totaling more than $18.2M in annual billings. Leveraging unique access to 350+ national and international providers, Comtel benefits its clients through competitive quotes from multiple sources, to ensure their business goals are met with current and dynamic telecom and technology services. Acting as a partner, long after contracts are signed and services are deployed, Comtel offers superb back-office support to manage upgrades, track orders, and provide training to clients.

Author: Amy Humphreys