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You need more than technical acumen to negotiate an SLA with your business units.
Negotiating service-level agreements (SLAs) can be one of the trickiest elements of transitioning IT from a mere technology competence center to a real part of the business. Detailing what a backup service will provide to its customers, and figuring out how to measure and report on these promises, will improve satisfaction and alignment; however, many IT professionals lose their cool when discussing service levels with business managers.
SLAs are a hot IT topic (see "
Of course, this isn't how IT operates at most companies. Indeed, the recent high-profile stories of companies that failed to protect their data brought the discipline of data backup into the limelight like perhaps no other element of IT infrastructure. Judges are subpoenaing data restores, lost tapes are embarrassing companies and possibly compromising their customers, and natural disasters are exposing the poor data protection practices at many organizations. With all of these outside pressures on the business, IT staffers are subjected to daily demands to increase backup service levels.
This was first published in September 2006