The Importance of SLAs for Colocation Customers
Catchall services agreements, such as Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Master Services Agreements and/or Terms and Conditions, are a core component of any relationship between a colocation provider and a business organization. These written agreements that are designed to protect both parties throughout the course of the relationship document exactly what is expected on both sides.
Lots of colocation providers can boast high levels of network service availability and unparalleled power uptime, but if they aren’t willing to back those claims up in the form of a written agreement, you should be asking yourself why.
However, while services agreements are necessary and important – and their very nature means they are invariably lengthy and comprehensive – they primarily serve three main purposes:
1. Establish the specific availability levels guaranteed by the colocation provider.
2. Outline the communication protocols that should be followed if a service- or uptime-impacting event occurs.
3. Lay out the policies and procedures that the colocation provider must adhere to when conducting any kind of maintenance activity.
Tailored to Suit
Services agreements should be drawn up with input from both the colocation provider and the business organization. After all, not all businesses are alike – far from it – so each of their needs and requirements will ultimately be different.
Key workloads, applications and servers should all be identified at the very start, so that each can have its own associated agreement developed. This will afford minimal downtime for business-critical systems.
Underpin Maintenance Activities
Without a robust maintenance program, your critical infrastructure stands to fail. Services agreements will outline the MOPs (method of procedure) and SOPs (standard operating procedure) that the colocation provider uses consistently, as well as the routine maintenance schedules they follow, which will also include the critical elements of the colocation facility such as generators, batteries and uninterruptible power supplies.
All of this means that no maintenance activities will come as a surprise or pose an unnecessary risk to your business systems further down the line.
Nothing Left to Chance
If something should happen to a piece of your critical infrastructure, you need to know whose responsibility it is to resolve the issue, and what kind of time frames you should expect.
It may be the case that a particular IT asset will be covered by the colocation provider’s own technicians should it experience a problem, but all parties need to understand these responsibilities ahead of time. That’s where services agreements come in.
With the business organization and the colocation provider both aware of their responsibilities, the investigation and resolution of service-impacting incidents is expedited.