Recently, I visited several large service providers who are rolling out their cloud offerings. One common question from them how they can measure the service level agreement in a way that not only they know its financial impact but also its operations impact. The operations impact they meant is how they can operationally measure, maintain, and report the operational service level to their customers.
In many people’s eyes, the SLA is a number. But the real question is what that number means and how that number matters. In the cloud, when the cloud customer’s business relies on the service that the cloud can deliver, the answers become even more important. The SLA in the cloud should reflect perspective from all constituencies. Cloud users care about the real experience they will get from the cloud. The availability may be good (it is calculated over a period of time, monthly or annually). But what about the service response time? On the other hand, service providers worry about their commitment to the customer. How to proactively minimize any downtime and identify any potential problems become important.
As the diagram shows here, these two perspectives have to be reflected in your service level management. One is related to the other. You’ve got to have an end to end view and in the same time understand the perspectives from both customers and providers. You’ve got to proactively measure, manage, and maintain the service levels. And you can’t do that manually in the cloud where dynamics is the norm. You will need to find a solution to tie all these different perspectives together and proactively maintain them. For service providers, this will be the key to keep your cost down and customers happy.