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May 01, 2017

Service Level Agreements: Insights for Federal Agencies

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are at the foundation of building a successful hybrid IT strategy. When moving some or all of your IT responsibilities to a third-party provider, it is imperative that both parties understand how responsibilities will be shared and divided, as well as what the agreed upon service guarantees in terms of uptime, network availability and incident response. Wired Magazine calls “SLAs both the blueprint and warranty for cloud computing.”

This official written agreement between a customer and service provider defines the services to be rendered and outlines performance standards. The terms of an SLA are guaranteed over the life of the agreement. In the rel="noopener noreferrer" federal landscape, the GSA describes SLAs as needing to be defined in measurable terms, but says that how these SLAs are defined, measured and enforced “varies widely.” Given the cybersecurity considerations and complex compliance requirements that impact how IT infrastructure is designed, secured, managed and housed, it’s important that federal CIOs and providers build “clearly specified” terms.

The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) is United States legislation that defines a comprehensive framework to protect government information, operations and assets against natural or man-made threats.  The sensitivity of government information drives the number of risk management controls an organization must meet to prevent and mitigate risk.  Many controls contain requirements for Service Level Agreements for communications along with maintenance activities. These environments and policies are often built through collaboration with cloud service providers, data center providers and hybrid IT partners. This is where SLAs come in. These agreements are not limited to cloud computing, but also are pivotal for CIOs and IT decision makers as they utilize data center, network, maintenance and other data services.

Seth Abrams, CTO for Homeland Security rel="noopener noreferrer" Group, CSRA, Inc., recently discussed SLAs with Federal Tech Talk’s John Gilroy. Abrams joined FedRAMP Director Matt Goodrich and QTS EVP Dave McOmber to discuss how federal agencies and organizations are making decisions about cloud strategies. He also described how SLAs are driving the way government agencies make decisions when purchasing IT solutions – helping them plan accordingly, using the uptime and service guarantees offered by those agreements.

When selecting a data center, network, cloud or any other type of IT services provider, federal agencies must create Service Level Agreements that clearly define responsibilities, infrastructural support and uptime guarantees. In a constantly evolving digital landscape, SLAs provide peace of mind while enabling federal CIOs to secure both the internal and external resources necessary to scale their IT strategies. This secure flexibility is made possible through the guarantees offered by the provider, as well as through the shared understanding of how each party’s role will impact an environment’s compliance and security posture.

QTS is the only fully-integrated data center, managed hosting and cloud services company that relies on people first. We provide expertise, technology and infrastructure for IT decision makers in complex, high-pressure environments who need help managing and protecting critical data. Our comprehensive portfolio of solutions, products and services is backed up by industry-leading service level agreements and expert support. Contact us today to learn more about QTS Government Solutions and how we can help you build a compliant and scalable hybrid IT strategy.
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