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service-level agreement (SLA)

A service-level agreement (SLA) is a contract between a network service provider and a customer that specifies, usually in measurable terms, what services the network service provider will furnish. Many Internet service providers (ISP)s provide their customers with an SLA... (Continued)

A service-level agreement (SLA) is a contract between a network service provider and a customer that specifies, usually in measurable terms, what services the network service provider will furnish. Many Internet service providers (ISP)s provide their customers with an SLA. More recently, IS departments in major enterprises have adopted the idea of writing a service level agreement so that services for their customers (users in other departments within the enterprise) can be measured, justified, and perhaps compared with those of outsourcing network providers.

Some metrics that SLAs may specify include:

  • What percentage of the time services will be available
  • The number of users that can be served simultaneously
  • Specific performance benchmarks to which actual performance will be periodically compared
  • The schedule for notification in advance of network changes that may affect users
  • Help desk response time for various classes of problems
  • Dial-in access availability
  • Usage statistics that will be provided.
This was first published in December 2008

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