Successful co-location agreements depend on good service providers and reasonable customers. In the real world, however, both parties need to minimize their risk and have protections in place to cover the unforeseen. For providers to feel covered from a legal standpoint, they will want to have as many "outs" as possible written into contracts. Nowadays, customers, on the other hand, are looking for more than service credits when Internet sites go down; they want providers that take financial responsibility for service interruptions.
In order to reach effective SLAs, co-location providers and clients work to meet service expectations through measurement, monitoring and enforcement. Increasingly, contracts are written and negotiated by attorneys specializing in co-location. According to Alan Fishel, a partner at Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn (www.arentfox.com), it is now essential for both providers and clients to be represented during negotiations. Without taking this step early in the process, specialists are oftentimes called in later to take over negotiations. It is no longer a case of calling attorneys who specialize in real estate or telecommunications; specialists are the safest bet.
Working with an expert results in defined service requirements, known responsibilities, understood expectations and acceptable remedies. Once these items are covered, partners can document methodologies and select hardware and software monitoring tools configured to assist both parties in carrying out contract terms. It is important to test your systems and tools in relation to the service agreement, because changes may be necessary after your site is up and running.
Despite your efforts to avoid trouble, problems are bound to happen. You must know which charges are one-time, which are recurring, as well as whats free and whats extra. In the event of litigation, proper planning and documentation will win your case. As with any insurance policy, there are no protections against natural disasters. The golden rule may apply, but the Boy Scout motto stands: Be prepared.