Setting Standards For Service-Level Agreements - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Setting Standards For Service-Level Agreements

The MSP Association program will help with templates for writing SLAs based on the ITIL standard, plus self-assessment surveys to determine where standardization is needed.

The Management Service Provider Association launched a program to help standardize service delivery for monitoring and managing software application, network, and hardware performance. When the association begins delivering portions of its Service Management Quality Initiative in March, the program will include templates for writing service-level agreements based on the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) standard, as well as online self-assessment surveys to determine where standardization is needed.

Standards and best practices will go a long way toward alleviating customer concerns that smaller service providers don't offer managed services consistent with larger service providers, such as IBM Global Services and EDS, says Linda Shannon-Hills, MSP Association chairwoman and worldwide service provider partner program manager for Hewlett-Packard OpenView. "We chose ITIL because it's a recognized standard in the IT operations industry," she says. ITIL is a methodology for breaking down the service-management process, the language and the nature of the processes, and how they interact with one another.

Adherence to the Service Management Quality Initiative won't give service providers a specific certification. Rather, the initiative is intended to be a model for managed service providers to follow when explaining their offerings to clients and writing service-level agreements. According to Shannon-Hills, the MSP Association wants customers to be able to accurately compare, across multiple service providers, such aspects as downtime compensation and service-provider accountability.

The ITIL standard has a formal vocabulary. That's particularly important to smaller managed service providers who offer specific services, such as security, help desk, or database support, says Dave Lilly, president and chief operating officer of SiteRock Corp, an MSP. A member of the association's Service Management Quality Initiative committee, Lilly says it's common for customers to use multiple MSPs as an alternative to one large service provider.

Gartner principal analyst Eric Goodness says standards are particularly important for an emerging market such as the one for managed services. Setting and meeting standards help inspire confidence in smaller service providers. Says Goodness, "Just because the largest service providers offer a variety of services doesn't mean they can provide managed services for everyone."

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The State of IT & Cybersecurity Operations 2020
The State of IT & Cybersecurity Operations 2020
Download this report from InformationWeek, in partnership with Dark Reading, to learn more about how today's IT operations teams work with cybersecurity operations, what technologies they are using, and how they communicate and share responsibility--or create risk by failing to do so. Get it now!
IT Careers: 10 Industries with Job Openings Right Now
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  5/27/2020
How 5G Rollout May Benefit Businesses More than Consumers
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  5/21/2020
IT Leadership in Education: Getting Online School Right
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  5/20/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Key to Cloud Success: The Right Management
This IT Trend highlights some of the steps IT teams can take to keep their cloud environments running in a safe, efficient manner.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll