SLA is the common abbreviation used for a service level agreement. When providing SaaS services to customers you need to include a SLA in your SaaS agreement, either as part of the main terms of your SaaS agreement or in a specific SLA schedule. A SLA should set out the following support and maintenance services that you will provide to customers to ensure that the SaaS software is made properly available to them.
The level of availability of the SaaS software should be stated in percentage terms. The basis on which availability is calculated should be included i.e. monthly, annually and any exclusions from the calculation should be clearly stated.
Software Support and Maintenance
Customer support is usually provided to assist customers when problems arise with the availability or functioning of the SaaS software. Customer support provisions should include:
- A description of the support services to be provided;
- The times and days on which support will be provided;
- How support will be provided i.e. online, via telephone;
- Response and resolution times for dealing with SaaS software problems; and
- Maintenance times for carrying out updates, repair and maintenance to your SaaS software.
SaaS providers use servers (hardware) usually located in a third party data centre to host their SaaS software. The provisions to be included in a SLA will be determined by the level of service that the third party data centre provides to the SaaS supplier. The data centre provisions should be reflected in the terms of your SLA but will generally include:
- A brief description of the security provisions in place at the data centre;
- A brief description of the technical infrastructure at the data centre;
- Any applicable disaster recovery provisions;
- Backups of data.
The way in which you incorporate a SLA into your SaaS agreement and the degree of detail that you provide to SaaS customers will largely depend upon the following:
- The type of SaaS products and services you are supplying;
- How much the customer pays for the SaaS product and services;
- Whether the SaaS product is business critical i.e. online banking;
- What is standard in that particular business area; and
- The terms of the hosting agreement with your data centre.
Due to the unique nature of a SLA you will need to seek specialist legal advice on the content of a SLA whether you are a supplier or a customer to ensure that your rights are adequately protected.
Irene Bodle is an IT lawyer specialising in SaaS agreements with over 10 years experience in the IT sector. If you require assistance with any SaaS, ASP, software on demand contracts or any other IT legal issues contact me:
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