Working towards the next version of the SWIM Supporting Material

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Working towards the next version of the SWIM Supporting Material

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This page explains how the content of a service description relates to the content of a formal arrangement (e.g. a service level agreement). 


Service descriptionInformation needed in order to use, or consider using, a service.
Formal arrangementAn agreement, formally established between the Service Provider and the Service Consumer, to define the conditions for the provision of a Service.
Service level agreement

A type of formal arrangement, typically to define agreed level(s) of specific conditions (e.g. quality of service (QoS))


Termpurposeproduced byused byconcernscontainscan be registered
Service description

in order to use a service

consider using a service

service providerall service consumersservice instanceservice metadatayes
Formal arrangement

contract when using a service

agreement of service provider and service consumerspecific service consumer (and service provider)service instanceagreementsno

Purpose and usage

The "formal arrangement" that covers the provision of an information service is specific to the service provider and its service consumer. The same information service can be offered by the same provider to different consumers on different conditions.

The formal arrangements can take different forms e.g.

  • a detailed, individualised contract
  • a service level agreement (SLA)
  • a memorandum of cooperation
  • an online tick-box agreeing to a set of conditions

The agreement of the formal arrangements can be as simple as checking a box or a complex process involving certification, approval of the use of the service by a strategy board, etc.

The series of regulations to be taken into account differs depending on the type of formal arrangement. As the range of regulations to take into account is large, it is difficult to give generic advice and to map the content of a service description to the content of the "formal arrangements".

Using service descriptions

A service description describes the service instance in a way that can be understood by all potential service consumers. It is not a contract and it can be updated by the provider over time as the service evolves. 

However, the content of a service description can inform the negotiations of the "formal arrangement". Typical content that can be used to inform the negotiations are the quality of service, the source of information, and the access and use conditions (e.g. cost). 

The formal arrangement may be different from the content found in the service description.


SWIM-SERV-180 Quality of service concerns the quality of service that is offered.

A service provider may e.g. state that availability of the service is on "best effort" rather than provide a precise figure in the service description

It is possible to update the service description within the European SWIM Registry to give a figure at any time. This updated service description becomes available to all potential service consumers. 

The "best effort" or precise figure is used to inform negotiations between the service provider and specific service consumers but it can be changed during the negotiations. 

Regulated content

Examples of the type of regulations and specifications to be taken into account in reaching the formal arrangements: 


The following diagram contains the formal arrangements to show its overall relation with the other SWIM service artefacts:

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