The 99.9% guarantee for the availability of application service provider (ASP) services has become a staple of the market. But analysts have warned users that a worthwhile service level agreement should be more complex and focus on the priorities of each individual company.
"Businesses need a business service level agreement," said Elena Chris- topher, senior analyst at Gartner Group. "In billing, for example, the most important time for billing applications to be up and running is at the end of the month when you are sending bills out to customers and suppliers.
"If your service goes down at this time, the service provider could still be meeting its service level agreements."
ASP service level agreements involving a number of suppliers should also address who is responsible for the recovery of data when IT systems fail, Christopher said.
Users' IT systems are often less reliable than those of the ASP and can therefore require extra support from ASPs, suppliers have claimed.
"The availability of ASP services is usually far higher than internal IT department levels," said David Angwin, worldwide ASP marketing manager at ASP Vistorm. "An availability level of 80% to 95% is typical [for IT departments]."
Users often requested help from their ASP to recover data that has been accidentally deleted, he added.