Home > Articles > Software Development & Management

Service Level Management in the Data Center

Service Level Management (SLM) provides the methodology and discipline for measuring overall system performance parameters and forms the basis for implementing service level agreements (SLAs). This article presents a basic definition of SLM, details the SLM process, and provides best practices for using SLM. Tasks described include all aspects of gathering the metrics needed, at all platform layers, to evaluate compliance with SLAs and to ensure continuous improvement in overall system performance. Future articles from this author will investigate best practices surrounding SLAs.
Like this article? We recommend

"In today's world, where ideas are increasingly displacing the physical in the production of economic value, competition for reputation becomes a significant driving force, propelling our economy forward. Manufactured goods often can be evaluated before the completion of a transaction. Service providers, on the other hand, usually can offer only their reputations."

—Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System

In today's service driven networks, the ability to deliver according to pre-defined agreements becomes increasingly a competitive requirement. Aside from being able to deliver highly available, reliably performing systems, just being able to deliver your promise is key to success. This is why an effective and efficient Service Level Management (SLM) system is important.

This article describes what SLM entails and what advantages it brings to Internet data center (IDC) providers. It also describes recommendations to successfully implement an SLM system.

An important element of the success of SLM is a sound Service Level Agreement (SLA). More details about this topic are discussed in the article Service Level Agreement in the Data Center, which will be available in April 2002.

Service Level Management

Ultimately, the goal of good SLM is to avoid what is quoted by nextslm.org as a widely anticipated pitfall:

"The IT industry has a history of over-promising and under-delivering. This history repeats itself in the applications service provider (ASP) model, with promises of absolute (99.99999%) reliability, global availability and rock bottom costs."

"nextslm.org" (http://www.nextslm.org/) is an online learning community, dedicated to providing clear, concise answers about SLM. This community is sponsored by BMC, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and Sun Microsystems.

SLM is the process that enables Internet data center (IDC) providers to deliver according to the SLAs that describe the expected performance of a service provider. It involves people, process and technology at all key areas of data center operations. The following paragraphs describe these areas in more detail.

Operational Aspects

FIGURE 1 is graphical overview of the operational management aspects commonly found in an IDC environment. This model is based on the Information Technology (IT) management framework as it is defined by Sun Professional Services of the Americas. The main objective is to show where SLM fits into the overall data center management challenge.

FIGURE 1 shows the organization of the key operational management aspects by function. The three faces of the cube show the pillars of a successful IT management model—people, process and tools. Within each face are more details of the contents.


This area includes all aspects of organization and human resources. It addresses all challenges in this space as they relate to the other faces.

FIGURE 1 Overview of Operational Aspects in a Data Center Environment



This face shows the processes that are identified by the Sun Ready methodology as key to successful data center management. Somewhat counter intuitively, the SLM process is part of the Account Management process. This is because it is here that Service Performance is measured against customer expectations.


This face shows the main building blocks of a data center management tools framework. It follows a multitiered approach where agents reside on the managed components and integrate into higher layers of abstraction. Around it are the entry and exit points of the automation—a management portal to provide visibility into the information and a process workflow manager to facilitate the hand-off into the management processes face. The SLM is the highest level of abstraction in this model and refers to the tools that facilitate SLM.

For any category to function successfully, all three dimensions of people, process and technology must be addressed properly; a successful approach to SLM does this. This section focuses more on the technology aspects of the SLM process.

The IDC provider must deal with the following challenges while maintaining a high Quality of Service (QoS):

  • Manage multiple network entry points provided by different vendors.

  • Manage multiple, different infrastructure technologies like wireless, computer systems, databases and so forth with their associated vendors.

  • Manage frequent changes in platform technology, functionality and scale.

  • Manage frequent changes in service technology, functionality and scale.

  • Provision over multiple service vendors to be able to manage and provide "single sign-on."

  • Manage geographically dispersed consumers and services.

The common thread between these challenges is "How do you keep your hands around all these different and dispersed components of your service?" A good approach to SLM provides the means to identify the issues and resolve them, while enabling a continuous quality improvement process.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020