Have you ever wondered what should actually be included in a SaaS service level agreement, commonly referred to as a SLA?
SaaS Customers thinking of purchasing SaaS software applications – software delivered via the Internet – are often unaware of what terms should be included in the SLA. Jargon in the SLA can seem like a foreign language and SaaS customers will often struggle to understand the terms of the SLA.
A SLA forms part of the SaaS agreement and can be contained in a separate schedule or in the main terms and conditions of the SaaS agreement. The SLA contains:
- Details about the availability of the SaaS software and services;
- Technical details about the hosting;
- Details about the support and maintenance of the software itself.
Most SaaS customers do not accept a SaaS supplier’s SLA and may even try to impose their own SLA. Customers often review the content of the SLA, or have it reviewed by a legal expert. This can make the process painful and time consuming for the SaaS supplier, who will need to deal with numerous queries. It is therefore advisable to provide some degree of detail in a SLA to avoid unnecessary time adding or negotiating details requested by SaaS customers.
SLAs should generally contain the following provisions, where appropriate:
- Guaranteed availability of the services and software
- Timing of and prior notice of maintenance;
- Description of the security provisions at the hosting centre and the technical infrastructure;
- Problem response and resolution times;
- Customer support description and support hours;
- Provision of service availability reports;
- Backup of customer data;
- Disaster recovery provisions;
- Right to terminate for breaches of the SLA;
- Service credits for breaches of the SLA.
The degree of detail that a SaaS supplier provides in a SLA will depend upon:
- How much a Saas customer pays for the SaaS software and services;
- Whether the SaaS software is business critical i.e. is used for online banking;
- What is standard in that particular business sector.
Due to the unique nature of SaaS you should seek specialist legal advice on the content of a SLA whether you are a Saas supplier or a SaaS customer to ensure that your rights are adequately protected.
Irene Bodle is an IT lawyer specialising in SaaS, with over 15 years experience dealing with SaaS, cloud computing matters and IT law issues. If you require assistance with any SaaS agreements, cloud computing matters or any other IT legal issues please contact me at:
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