What Managed Service Providers Should Avoid in SLAs

SLACreating a comprehensive Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a vital aspect of providing managed cloud-based services for customers. Every managed service provider (MSP) should acknowledge SLAs as a primary means of protecting both the provider and the customer, with a clear plan and warranty.

An SLA with any weak points will fail to establish rules about security implementations, data ownership, mobile options, and other aspects of managed services. Like with nearly any contract, an SLA containing a mistake could result in legal disputes as well as a short-lived relationship with a customer that ends on bad terms. Forgetting important parts of SLAs can make customers feel deceived and lawsuits might arise.

Avoiding these particular SLA mistakes will help prevent issues between MSPs and their customers.

Focusing Only on the MSP Side of the Agreement

MSPs will want to avoid only focusing on their own service requirements, as this leaves out client expectations. Both sides need to work cooperatively in order to ensure smooth service and that includes a mutual understanding of how customers will go about dealing with any issues they experience. How will customers resolve any system failures or complaints? When will customers be able to audit data management services? A thorough SLA will clearly answer such questions.

Missing Discontinuation Plans

It’s important to have an SLA that details all of the aspects of a customer-MSP relationship, but it’s also necessary for it to include information about discontinuing services. MSPs can run into legal troubles if SLAs don’t include clear instructions about how to discontinue service.

Writing Unclear SLAs

While a majority of MSPs claim to have a 99.95% availability, it takes specific conditions to guarantee that availability. Leaving information such as all relevant terms and conditions out of an SLA could lead to customers being unhappy when they don’t get exactly what they want. They might feel cheated if they believed they were guaranteed something, even if that belief was due to a miscommunication.

One example would be if a power outage occurred. Depending on how long this outage lasted, it could get a company into trouble if it isn’t covered in a detailed SLA. However, if it is a possible event described in the SLA, the customer can discover that they weren’t deceived in any way.

Forgetting to Update the SLA

As certain restrictions and conditions change along with the landscape of managed services, it’s important to update SLAs with any new information that comes to light. MSPs should always make sure that SLAs stay up to date with current company policies and service requirements. Industry standards and regulations are aspects to consider when reassessing SLAs. Additionally, if changes are made to a particular client’s employed services, the SLA should be modified according to these alterations.

There are many ways an SLA might fail to meet the requirements of both the managed service provider and its customers, but by properly scrutinizing every aspect, a fruitful relationship can continue. Having routinely thorough SLAs will help secure an MSP’s relationship and reputation with not only current clients, but many others to come.

When Moving to the Cloud Is an Easy Decision

Moving to the cloudThe decision of moving to the cloud is one that many organizations spend a lot of time and energy making. Whether an organization moves to the cloud or not will depend both on its business needs and its technology needs. However, there are some instances where moving to the cloud is an easy decision to make.

Global, Online Customers

For a business that has online customers from all around the world, the cloud can be the boost that enables the organization to continue to grow. Global customers want a quick and accurate response time no matter where they are in relation to the location of the business.

Two ways that the cloud helps with this are geographical spread between data centers and how the cloud provider handles failures.

  • Geographic Distance Between Servers: The cloud enables a business’s servers to be located in any part of the world–not confined to the same geographic area as the business itself. This means that customers on the opposite side of the globe can access the server nearest them, which will result in improved response times.
  • Redundancy: Cloud-based solutions have higher redundancy levels than traditional solutions. Businesses looking to have more of a global reach should ensure that their service level agreement with their cloud provider includes a provision for uptime, which translates into more availability for customers.

Mobility in the Field

Sales and quality personnel are no longer restricted to places they can go physically–which can often include the expenses of flights, lodging, and food– when an organization moves to the cloud. Rather than flying across the world, employees can complete their work on mobile interfaces like smartphones and tablets.

Even if these personnel do have to make field visits, entering data to the cloud means that data is almost always uploaded, even if it has to wait until the employee has a better connection to access it. Data that is entered into the system also becomes available to customers more quickly; this enables the business to make faster, better informed decisions.

Mobile Access

Mobile interfaces also are helping simplify access to the cloud. Instead of either having to learn complicated IT systems or having to rely on only the IT department whenever something technological is needed, mobile interfaces and the cloud make it easy for all employees to do their jobs. This can include an organization’s compliance auditors, customer support, and sales personnel.

Uneven Demand

Cloud services give businesses the ability to access solutions like software-as-a-service (SaaS). Many businesses can benefit from an SaaS distribution model, including those in the following verticals:

  • Tourism
  • Education
  • Specialty retail
  • Event management

These businesses and organizations often have seasonal demand for their products or services, which leads to highs and lows in their transactions. Cloud services like SaaS enables these organizations to reduce costs, because they only pay for what they actually use.

Cloud solutions have become an intrinsic part of the technology industry, though many businesses still evaluate the risks and benefits of moving to the cloud. Businesses that aspire to have a more global presence, cut costs, and improve customer relations should consider how moving to the cloud will help them achieve these goals.