What is a Service Level Agreement?

This is a questions that a lot of people running a website or hosting data for web applications might be thinking about. At its basic level, a Service Level Agreement, which is also known as an SLA, is an agreement between you and your web hosting provider. This agreement stipulates the certain level of service that they must provide, which usually relates to uptime. For example, an SLA might say that a web host must provide at least 99% uptime to a customer, and if they don’t then the customer is entitled to a refund, credit, or some other type of benefit. Although SLAs may be seen in other industries, this is the common interpretation of them as it relates to the web hosting industry.

With that said, keeping track of this uptime can be somewhat difficult. This is because you might not always know when your site is down, and if you do, it might only be for a little while, and it’s not always ¬†easy to keep track of these things. So, with that said, it may be a good idea to get some type of SLA management solution in place in order to keep tabs on your uptime and downtime. One of the best ways to do this is by using a third party solution that can ping your server at different times and record whether it was accessible or not. Then if you find that the overall percentage of uptime reported by your third party vendor is outside of your specified SLA, then you can go to your web host and talk to them about some type of refund, credit, or whatever was specified in your actual SLA.

There are a lot of different vendors/companies that offer these types of solutions, some of which include New Relic, Pingdom, Manage Engine, and a number of other vendors. Pricing and features will obviously vary among different vendors, and you may want to evaluate different solutions in order to determine what the best platform is for your site, and what types of features you need. Some vendors may also have free trials associated with their services that can help you get acquainted with the service without having to pay up front. It’s important to read their terms though so you understand what you’re getting into, and if you’ll be charged up front or at any point. The bottom line here is that you may want to seriously consider keeping an eye on your uptime and downtime if you want to enforce the terms of your service level agreement.