Making sure you get the IT services you pay for Posted on December 5, 2017 by Tim Burke Anyone who’s signed up for even a simple cloud service has encountered (and, I hope, actually read) the accompanying service level agreement (SLA), which delineates precisely what services you’re getting and the metrics by which the levels of those services are measured. Typically, SLAs also describe the responsibilities of each party (you and the service provider), protocols for adding or removing service metrics, and remedies or penalties for breached service level performance. What to look for in your SLAs In your perusals of all things technology, you may have noticed articles and blogs about how SLAs need to reflect so-called SMART goals–that is, your service level agreements should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely: Specific: Your SLAs should articulate detailed service delivery definitions and expectations. Measurable: Your SLAs should describe ways to track real-world service level performance (e.g., availability, response times). Generally, this is accomplished using service management platforms that compare tracked and recorded service metrics to the SLA’s stated service level performance targets. Without this capability, you’ll have a tough time showing sub-par performance. Achievable: Your SLAs should reflect realistic, affordable business and technical goals. Relevant: Your SLAs should directly address the services being provided and be relevant to evaluating service level performance in terms of your business and technical goals. Timely: Your SLAs should set forth timeframes in which the provided services will be delivered. Beyond the take-it-or-leave-it SLA Most IT service providers offer standard service level agreements and do not especially encourage customers to negotiate SLA terms. Many cloud services providers – notably those fielding hyperscale public cloud services – offer a number of types of SLAs, though they resist customizing them. Such a take-it-or-leave-it approach limits your ability to shape the SLA that supports any hyperscale public cloud services you may choose. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By engaging the right IT services provider, you can create the SMART SLA you need. First you can specify your unique technology configurations and requirements. Then you can flexibly bundle them into a single SLA – with a simplified single monthly (CAPEX) payment – backed by access to deep, leading-edge technical expertise and competencies that span hyperscale public cloud services, hybrid cloud services, virtualization, storage, servers, network equipment, VoIP, complex application environments, and more. The right IT services provider can also help you figure out just what your SLA requirements really are – beginning with complimentary consulting assessments designed to help you match up your business goals with your technology requirements and ensure that your IT infrastructure is capable of fulfilling those requirements. In my next post, I’ll examine the six best practices that can help you build the specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely SLAs your IT operations need.