A service-level agreement [SLA] is an agreement between client and service provider which defines what services are to be provided, and to what standard, and the ways that the relationship will be managed – the rights and obligations of the parties. Typical contents of an SLA include the parties, the key contacts, the intent of the agreement, the services, priorities, service standards, metrics and review mechanisms, responsibilities, guarantees, and warranties. The SLA may specify availability, uptime, serviceability, performance, operation, or other attributes of the service, so that the parties are clear about what is to be delivered. In this sense the SLA may be an informal document that is not intended to be legally binding – especially if it stipulates the obligations of the client – or a schedule to a legally binding contract. What separates SLAs from contract schedules is the focus on defining and measuring service levels. Maximum, target and minimum service levels may be defined, together with mechanisms that apply if service levels are not met, such as joint problem solving, escalation, arbitration, and termination. See also Performance Regime.
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