Benefits of Measuring Against an SLA
This chapter describes why measuring against SLAs is so important to a successful data center service and a healthy infrastructure.
Key to success for a data center service is the ability to perform according to predefined standards. Performance is summarized as the ability to meet (or preferably exceed) the customer's expectations. The first step is to set realistic expectations for both sides of the contract. An SLA is a great vehicle to communicate the expectations and create a level of trust by adding conditions and penalties when the promises are not met.
The SLA defines a clear relationship between the customer and the provider by setting boundaries, conditions, penalties and expectations.
Because an SLA links the customer requirements to infrastructure requirements, it creates the ability to link service levels to service cost and, as a result, profitable pricing can be set. Moreover, by spending wisely on well defined requirements rather than rules of thumb or gut feeling, more efficient cost management can be achieved.
The capability to segment service offerings with different pricing for different service levels benefits both the vendor and the customer. The vendor widens its target market by being able to customize its services and the customer only pays for what it needs.
Having the ability to measure against key performance indicators facilitates the continuous quality improvement process. Being able to raise the performance bar at a steady pace helps the data center service provider to remain competitive. By tying the problem resolution process to an SLA, a service performance problem becomes an opportunity to structurally improve overall service quality and customer satisfaction, as opposed to just resolving the symptoms of the real issue.
An SLA sets the standards to which the IDC service provider committed. As a result, a set of common and/or global parameters is derived to which all organizational groups must be managed and measured. Requirements for success of the business are now directly translated to measurable requirements for the technical teams.
The SLA drives the definition of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) at the service, application, system and network level. Defining these KPIs facilitates the proper tools selection, process definitions and skills (people, process and technology) for an organization.
Knowing what to measure eliminates redundant data collection, which reduces the total overhead of the SLM system on the service infrastructure. A good SLM system collects data only once.