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Service Level Agreements (SLA) or Service Expectations

Every now and then you jump onto an article and on the first read they sound so… correct. Read them again, and may disagree to it !

A recent article on Gigaom is one of similar lot to me. It goes suggesting SLAs arent of much help, and one shall rather be worrying for Service Expectations. I suggest we revisit that.

SLAs are as what they stand for, an agreement – on basis of which a service level will be measured (and vendor paid up for). Service Expectations are some intangible facts and boundaries that a vendor shall understand and attempt to abide with before putting forth a SLA proposal – as they might have a direct impact on client’s business.

Now, there is a different between a mass offering and tweaked business/technical solution. A mass offering, as generally provisioned by Retailers & Utilities providers (cloud computing inclusive), only comes with a generalized SLA. E.g. amount of time service vendor would be able to keep the service online. Matching each SMBs (or small applications of big clients) service expectations would rather be next to impossible. As in any retail business, challenge here is to put out a service in market which excites majority (not, all) of potential clients by value it delivers. And it shouldn’t stop at point of excitement and buzz generated, but goes way to the point of meeting what you committed to masses. And you report it using SLAs.

A tweaked business / technical solution, on other hand, looks upon each and every business and service expectation for the specific client service is getting designed for. There are times when I have seen different SLAs being proposed for different times in a day / weekdays / weekends – for the same client. But that’s generally in the cases where you have a dedicated consumption line/resources (in some cases, private clouds inclusive). Though, once you have understood the expectations, have drafted the SLAs, you report back using those agreed SLAs – whether or not you are able to deliver.

Now, in any case, it would be bizarre to say I would give away SLAs as am concentrating on Service Expectations. Anyways, dodged SLA reports doesnt highlight Service Expectations more than the need for Business Ethics I would say. For retail business cases, an honest SLA report helps you consolidate current users confidence in your service, and in gaining new business. For bulk business cases, you definitely will have to start with understanding Service Expectations, but SLAs will hold equal importance so you can showcase whether or not you are able to meet those Expectations. Now, there are multiple things that goes out public in those monthly/quarterly/yearly review/reports, and SLAs should definitely be part of it !

 

Vikas Rajput

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