Either way, service level agreements are only as good as:
- What they measure - are these really the key network deliverables that are important for your business objectives?
- Can they be enforced - are they accurately and readily measurable?
- Are they worth it - Is the penalty balanced against the ongoing risk?
Next, assuming you know what service levels you need, are they measurable? What are the pitfalls that aren't obvious during contract negotiations, but will appear when trying to enforce an SLA penalty? When service goes down, the fingers start pointing.
This is one area where Uplogix can help out. The unique position of a Local Manager (LM) in the network stack, but operating independently of the network makes it possible to measure service levels in multiple ways. LMs can conduct point-to-point testing where one Local Manager accesses another Local Manager over the same WAN connections as the rest of the network infrastructure. The LM can make and grade synthetic voice calls, as well as simulate user interactions by grading HTTP and IP performance metrics.
Service Level Verification with Uplogix falls into two types:
- Passive Monitoring of Traffic | With its console connections to network gear like switches and routers, the LM can use this Layer 2 visibility to collect/report/act on 36 different values such as Rx, TX, CRC, Load, Line Protocol Status and others.
- Active Monitoring of Traffic | This is Layer 4 testing where one LM connects directly to another over the same network path that your users depend on. Over 45 values can be collected related to VoIP and IP performance such as Jitter, Latency, MOS, R value and more.
"...poorly used SLAs prove to be wooden swords. In many cases, the financial incentive is quite low or subject to clauses that prevent them being really dissuasive. In another hand, too big penalties will have a large cost as suppliers must take the risk into account in their pricing. Even worst, badly defined SLAs might even distort service operations and results by following fake goals and hitting useless targets.So whether you are subject to hitting the SLAs or collecting on them, it's like the Dire Straits song: "Sometimes you're the Louisville slugger, sometimes you're the ball," but with some careful evaluation and an handy tool for generating automated, actionable metrics like Uplogix, it's easier to be the windshield instead of the bug.
More importantly, in complex environment when things are going in the wrong direction and the supplier really cannot deliver what is expected for whatever reason, the situation is generally such that no one really care about penalties anymore - Try to explain to the on-line Sales Director that her web site poor performance is not an issue thanks to the penalties that you'll try to get from your hosting provider in the next six months... good luck! The only thing that really matters for her it that the service performs and that she can get back to the business as fast as possible."