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Step 4: Protect and serve
The time has come to make it happen. SLAs are the key to working with customers for a service organization. The trick is to be proactive: Decide on the levels of service that you intend to offer and then get buy-in from the end users. Here's what to do:
- Translate your technical capabilities into service level definitions. Think about things in terms that your users will understand--talk about availability and performance, rather than RAID levels and FC.
- Create "value meals" of typical service level choices. These are the tiers of service you will offer your customers. Avoid using loaded terms such as "Class A" or "Tier 3" that may make business users or applications seem less important than others. Instead, cite specifics of service levels with phrases such as "fully redundant" and "copied off site."
- Share the financial implications of SLA choices with your users. Not everyone wants a chargeback scheme, but most people will understand that shipping every byte written to a remote data center can be an expensive proposition. So be prepared to discuss the costs associate with the different options.
This was first published in October 2004