What's the difference between SLO vs. SLA?

The terms SLO and SLA are often confused, but as you’ll learn in this expert tip, there are key differences.

What's the difference between SLO and SLA?

A service-level agreement (SLA) is a contractual agreement outlining a specific service commitment made between contract parties -- a service provider and its customer. The SLA includes language describing the overall service, financial aspects of service delivery, including fees, penalties, bonuses, contract terms and conditions, and specific performance metrics governing compliant service delivery. These individual performance metrics are called service-level objectives (SLOs).

Although there is no hard and fast rule governing how many SLOs may be included in each SLA, it only makes sense to measure what matters.

Each SLO corresponds with a single performance characteristic relevant to the delivery of an overall service. Some examples of SLOs would include: system availability, help desk incident resolution time and application response time.

This was first published in March 2006

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