- What is an SLA?
- What should be included in an SLA?
- What different SLA packages are available for clients?
An SLA has been an increasingly common contract format between clients and companies providing IT services. That’s not a surprise, seeing how a Service Level Agreement cares for the interest of both parties, ensuring the client gets what was requested while simultaneously acting as a document of legal protection for the provider. In the following paragraphs, we outline the basic definitions and characteristics of SLAs.
What is an SLA?
Let’s start with the basics. A Service Level Agreement is a type of contract established between a client and an IT company to provide IT services, usually in terms of maintenance and/or support. All of the services to be offered by the company are included in the SLA, and it is a form of warranty for the client that the actions will be performed in accordance with high standards and in due time. It is a detailed offer of technical IT assistance.
The main benefits of SLA from the client’s perspective include:
- It ensures the continuity of the platform’s operation at the highest possible level
- It ensures updates and high security
- The possibility to use programming hours for any cause, including the modification of old functionalities or the implementation of new ones
What should be included in an SLA?
Good IT companies do not offer a single SLA template, there are some general types, but each agreement should be tailor-made in accordance with the client’s needs and expectations. It can also be a flexible contract, since the IT environment changes so rapidly, there might be a door open for future adjustments to maximize the effectiveness of support and resource use. Below you will find some of the aspects that should be covered by an SLA:
- A detailed description of the offer, including the software, services, etc. that are to be monitored and supported by the company
- The availability of the provided services – e.g., whether the support and maintenance services are available 5 days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., or 24/7 throughout the entire year
- Information on how the reported events are prioritized
- Information on the reaction time and the assumed time for developing a solution; this includes how quickly the provider responds to the support request
- A detailed description of the issue reporting procedure – how is the client supposed to notify the provider about issues? (e.g., through a phone, a ticket submitted via a dedicated platform such as Jira, email, online chat on the provider’s website)
- The scope of monitoring activities with or without potential optimizations; how the monitoring procedures are organized
- How the periodic reporting procedure and status report meetings are carried out
- What are the consequences of the company failing to provide assistance in accordance with the SLA
- Whether there is a specific person designated as the client’s contact
What different SLA packages are available for clients?
As we mentioned previously, a Service Level Agreement should always be an individually prepared contract, but there are usually three main SLA templates that can serve as the basis for the final document.
SLA agreement types
- Service-based SLA – this form of contract specifies the services provided to all clients (there is a single agreement for everyone), and it describes the procedures according to which issues are resolved
- Client-based SLA – an agreement with a client or an individual client group specifying all the services that will be covered according to their needs
- Multi-level SLA – a contract that is divided into different levels determining the group of clients that use the same services included in one SLA
SLA – examples of services
Let’s have a look at what activities may be included as part of an SLA.
Designing server infrastructure and migration
Sometimes, when a Client requests an SLA, he wants to migrate his server infrastructure. In such a case, the offer also includes one-time activities, like the selection and configuration of the new infrastructure, and the process of migration. Every case is different, here is an example of what this SLA may include:
- The design of server infrastructure
- The design of a new environment based on dedicated OVH servers
- The installation and configuration of servers and relevant software
- The migration of current infrastructure
- The process of migration
- Applying security measures
- The provision of appropriate hardware, including backup hardware
- The provision of appropriate software, e.g.:
- A virtualization platform
- Backup and recovery software
Server SLA – monthly service for server administration
Here are examples of what may be included as part of a server SLA in a per-month model:
- 24/7/365 monitoring
- The collection and analysis of statistics regarding, e.g., resource use, servers, service parameters, load
- Providing high availability of www services
- Monitoring the availability and effectiveness of services
- Adjusting server parameters and tools to maximize effectiveness
- Overseeing the security of the server
- The verification of database cohesion and correctness
- Updating the OS and libraries
- The analysis of system logs and reaction if errors are observed
- Supervising the creation of backups for systems, databases and resources
- Responding to emergencies 24/7/365
- Reacting to issues with the www service 24/7/365
- Reacting to system emergencies 24/7/365
- The analysis of infrastructure and developer support
- Suggesting optimal solutions
- Proposing solutions for architecture scaling depending on the needs of the traffic, e.g., related to an ad campaign
- Informing about the excessive use of system resources, “slow query” in the case of databases
- Proposing updates or changes regarding the used libraries
Programming SLA – website maintenance
Here we outline a sample of website maintenance services as part of an SLA.
- Software updates
- Monitoring and performing the necessary updates
- Implementing new expansions, conducting repairs and tests on demand
- Programming support
- A set of hours to be used as part of the selected package for any programming task associated with the modification or development of the software
- The option to use the hours included in the package for work associated with automated or manual testing
- Managing tickets and customer service
- Providing a tool for project communication and ticket management
- Monthly reports on hours worked and the course of work
- A client contact person available throughout the entire cooperation time
The costs involved in an SLA are calculated individually for each case. The price usually depends on reaction times and the number of hours allocated for work and repairs included in the package. The former usually has the biggest impact on costs. For example, if a client wants the provider to react within two hours at any time of the day (or night), then the price will be steep. From the provider’s point of view, this means the company has to have specialists on standby at night and during weekends.
SLAs are mutually beneficial agreements and a comfortable form of cooperation. If you are looking for a company to provide support and maintenance for your business, the team at createIT has nearly two decades of experience in the field. Do not hesitate to contact us, we will gladly answer any questions.