Firstly, you need to know what an SLA is. SLA is short for “Service Level Agreement” and is basically a contract. A service provider’s responsibilities to its customers are defined in an SLA. The services should ideally be described in detail and might be designed for specific customer related services or services to a group of customers or even a corporation.

• Importance of SLA – The mark of a good SLA is – specified metrics using which the services will be measured, process of remedying problems, and in case of service level breach, penalties and fees the provider would be liable to pay – are mentioned. Also, both the service provider and the customer will be protected by a good SLA. This ensures that the promised services are provided to the customer but the provider is not penalized if the fault lies with the customer, for instance, if timely information is not provided by the customer. In order to protect the interests of both the involved parties in the long term, expectations are defined from the relationship’s conception and misunderstandings are, thus, avoided in case of any future disputes.

• SLA and Web Hosting – When using an ISP for web hosting, the SLA should be examined closely. Special attention should be paid to security measures, quality (technical), availability of network and similar details. Network availability should have further subdivisions on the basis of time and percentage. For instance, 98% availability between 6am to 11pm. Check whether infrastructure related to the network – like routers, switches and cabling – is included in the SLA. Check for the inclusion of the server of the customer in the hosting network. Also read the fine print, focusing on response time to issues like DOS attacks, service outages et al. There are a number of tools that can be used for Sla management, many of them being third party or paid tools, but if keeping track of your SLA is important, then it may be something worth looking into. Obviously not everyone needs this, but if you do it may be worthwhile.

• Managing And Keeping a Track of Your SLA – SLA is a dynamic document and thus, needs periodic reviews, whether it’s used for hosting an e-commerce site or a personal blog. Metrics can change because of increase in traffic on the website or workloads because of technological improvements. Sometimes, you might have to see if the terms of the SLA are being met by your web host by keeping a track of uptime/downtime.

Finally, the biggest reason for managing and keeping a track of your SLA is that you don’t want to pay money for services you are not receiving and the only way to ensure that is to keep a close watch.