Cloud back up is no longer a new phenomenon. Expectations around cloud services are firming up and consumers have very definite demands to make. But, there is a lot of apprehension that cloud vendors may not deliver all that they promise and enterprises are not very sure how they can enforce their rights with the cloud service provider. No enterprise wants to be at a disadvantage. The solution to the problem lies in negotiating the right kind of agreement with the right cloud vendor.

Most organizations do not have a manager designated the “SLA Manager” (Service Level Agreement Manager).  Management of IT related SLAs is often a part of the responsibilities assigned to the IT manager. However, SLA management is a skill that must be acquired and nurtured.  It could prove to be a full time job.

The essence of good SLA management is communication. The SLA manager has the responsibility to communicate with the service provider and the stakeholders continuously. The communication channels must be kept open till clarity is obtained on all issues that may impact the development of the SLA.

The parties to an SLA must have the right kind of legal speak to develop the SLA and advantage their organization. The person assigned responsibility for SLA must learn the jargon and the meaning of the Jargon so that the clauses in the SLA can be appreciated and negotiated to the advantage of the organization. The manager must be knowledgeable about organizational requirements and must be able to put across the same to the service provider without any kind of ambiguity.

Once the negotiation is complete, the SLA manager must have the capacity to sell the negotiated terms and conditions to the senior management and get their buy in.  Further, the manager must help stakeholders understand the implications, contents and the reasons for the establishment of the SLA. He/She must act as a facilitator and guide the parties during discussions and meetings or resolve conflicts caused by perceived gaps in delivery of services.

Finally, the SLA manager must constantly review the established service systems and track any incidents that may mar the smooth delivery of services to the stakeholders.

In short, it is the responsibility of the SLA manager to serve as a point of contact between the service provider and the organization; manage any escalation process; coordinate modifications and delivery; train stakeholders; review and track service; facilitate and participate in resolution of disputes and regularly assess and report on the relationship.