What is a Service Level Agreement (SLA)?
SLA is the common abbreviation used for a service level agreement. When providing software services to customers via the internet (SaaS services) you need to include a SLA in your SaaS agreement, either as part of the main terms of your SaaS agreement or in a specific SLA schedule. A SLA should set out the following support and maintenance services that you will provide to customers to ensure that the SaaS software is made properly available to them.
The level of availability of the software should be stated in percentage terms. The basis on which availability is calculated should be included i.e. monthly, annually and any exclusions from the calculation should be clearly stated.
Software Support and Maintenance
Customer support is usually provided to assist customers when problems arise with the availability or functioning of your software. Customer support provisions should include:
- A description of the support services to be provided;
- The times and days on which support will be provided;
- How support will be provided i.e. online, via telephone;
- Response and resolution times for dealing with software problems; and
- Maintenance times for carrying out updates, repair and maintenance to your software.
SaaS supplier use servers (hardware) usually located in a third party data centre to host their software. The provisions to be included in a SLA will be determined by the level of service that the third party data centre provides to the supplier. The data centre provisions should be reflected in the terms of your SLA but will generally include:
- A brief description of the security provisions in place at the data centre;
- A brief description of the technical infrastructure at the data centre;
- Any applicable disaster recovery provisions;
- Backups of data.
The way in which you incorporate a SLA into your SaaS agreement and the degree of detail that you provide to customers will largely depend upon the following:
- The type of SaaS products and services you are supplying;
- How much the customer pays for the product and services;
- Whether the product or service is business critical i.e. online banking;
- What is standard in that particular business area; and
- The terms of the hosting agreement with your data centre.
image courtesy of Sam Howzit