Service level agreements (SLAs) are a type of contract that businesses use to clearly define the performance expectations, response times and penalties associated with particular services or products. SLAs can be especially useful for companies that provide remote IT support or cloud computing services. For example, if your company hosts servers for clients, you may want to create SLAs so that clients know how fast their data needs to upload and download. If you’re thinking about creating an SLA for your business or updating your current one, you may be wondering what the latest trends are in this area. Here is an overview of some common topics in SLA writing today and some tips for creating a strong SLA.
Increasing Data Transparency
With the rise of data breaches, companies are increasingly expected to be transparent about how much data they’re holding and who it belongs to. This standard applies to both businesses that are storing data and businesses that are receiving data. Data transparency is a key topic when it comes to SLAs because it allows customers to understand the data ownership rules that apply to their data. For example, if a client is storing their data on a company’s servers, the SLA should specify who owns the data and who has the right to access and delete it. The SLA should also specify if the company plans to encrypt the data and if they’re adhering to any other data security standards.
Streamlining SLA Enforcement
Service level Agreement often have sections that spell out how and when customers can file a complaint and the expected process for addressing those complaints. The key to streamlining SLA enforcement is clearly defining these sections and including a complaint form in the contract. For example, a complaint form should clearly state what the complaint is about and give the customer a place to provide their contact information. It should also ask the customer to agree to abide by the terms of the SLA so that the company doesn’t receive complaints that go above and beyond what’s covered in the contract.
Voice of the Customer & Usage Based Contracts
If you use usage-based contracts, you may have noticed that customers sometimes don’t understand their terms. This can lead to disputes since the customer may not even realize that they’re in violation of the contract. To avoid this, you can take the voice of the customer into account when writing your SLAs. This includes keeping your contract language as simple as possible and avoiding industry jargon that could confuse your customers. It also includes letting your customers know what their typical usage would be so that they can plan for the costs.
IT Security Protections Becoming Part of SLAs
As security becomes an increasingly critical core competency, we’re starting to see SLAs include specific security protections that the company will provide. For example, if one of your clients uses your remote server management services, your SLA should specify what security measures you’ll take to protect their data. Some security options you may want to include in your SLAs include encryption, firewalls and antivirus software.
Ensuring Cloud Service Providers Are Equipped to Protect Data
As cloud computing becomes a bigger part of business operations, we’re starting to see SLAs include provisions to ensure that cloud service providers are equipped to properly protect data. Some of these provisions include specifying the type of encryption that will be used and requiring the provider to undergo annual security audits. These provisions are especially important for companies that store their data in the cloud and also want to use that data for compliance purposes. For example, if a healthcare company stores its data in the cloud and uses that data to track patient compliance with medication regimens, it will need to ensure that its data is protected. Otherwise, it may risk penalties from government agencies.
The latest trends in SLA writing indicate that businesses are increasingly expected to protect their customers’ data. The most significant way for businesses to meet these expectations is to adopt an IT security posture that protects data at all layers of the stack. An infrastructure that’s designed to protect data starts with virtualized infrastructure that uses isolation and segmentation to protect data in transit and data at rest. It also includes network security tools designed to protect against malicious traffic and user devices that are equipped with the latest security protections like the SIEM.
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