Service provisioning, in one context, means the “preparation beforehand” of IT systems’ “assets, materials, resources, or supplies” required to carry out some defined activity. But paraphrasing from the Oasis Service Provisioning Markup Language V1 Specification, it can go further than the initial juncture of providing digital resources, to the onward management lifecycle of these resources as managed items. This definition will, in the future, extend to include all corporate assets, such as meeting rooms and other nondigital resources.
A Service-Level Agreement (SLA) is a negotiated agreement designed to create a common understanding about services, priorities, and responsibilities. SLAs are a means, in Service- Oriented Architectures (SOAs), to reserve service capacity at a defined service quality level. Provisioning systems enable automatic configuration of digital resources such as servers, storage, and routers based on a configuration specification. SLAs are used for reserving the capacity of Software as a Service (SaaS), and for digital resource level assets or resources in a complex system such as storage capacity, network bandwidth, computing nodes, and memory.
SLAs all contain similar sets of elements: service elements and management elements. These elements provide an objective basis for gauging service effectiveness. It ensures that all interested parties use the same criteria to evaluate service quality. It’s a living document. The signing parties to the SLA regularly review the agreement to assess service adequacy and negotiate adjustments. The service user may need to double its volume of digital widgets use and impose new security layers. The service provider can address the number of widgets required in terms of processors, storage, bandwidth, and security overhead via the new SLA.
The service elements define services by documenting such things as:
• The services to be provided
• Conditions of service availability
• Service standards (such as the timeframes that services will be provided)
• The responsibilities of both parties
• Cost vs. service trade-offs and possible effects on peak hour demand (latency)
• Escalation procedures.