On Rad�s Radar

On Rad's Radar: The Reality of SLAs

By Peter Radizeski, RAD-INFO Inc.  |  December 21, 2015

“This Service Level Agreement (“SLA”) sets forth the provisions and commitments relating to service quality between SP and Customer.”

Comcast (News - Alert) polled 235 professionals about their network service level agreements. Here are the results: “More than one-third of respondents – 38 percent – don’t have any SLAs in place at all. Of those, 21 percent regret that fact and the remaining 79 percent have no issues. Almost two-thirds of respondents – 62 percent – do have an SLA in place. But not all SLAs are the same. One-fifth of those with SLAs say that it’s only for uptime not performance, and another one-fifth say that it’s reactive – they need to notify the vendor.” - See more at: http://cbcommunity.comcast.com/browse-all/details/the-current-state-of-network-connectivity-slas

A SLA is a funny creature. It is not a guarantee. It is an agreement about the level of service delivery. If service does not meet this level, these specifications, then the customer must call the vendor on it – and chase the credits.

Think about a typical 10MB Internet circuit that costs $700 per month. If the performance falls off – and the customer puts in a repair ticket – the customer is entitled to a credit - of $23!

If a business really worries about service level, redundancy should be added to the network where it is feasible and cost effective.

The SLA is a check box on the RFP, but only the truly uninitiated would think that the SLA meant it was a guarantee of uptime or performance. It is an “availability goal”. It is the bar the carrier aims for.

It is not always end-to-end. With type II circuits and last mile loops, sometimes the SLA is just for the service provider’s network. On Internet, it is only to the edge router, not past it.

Availability Objective per month: 99.999% (Ring Protected) and 99.99% (Unprotected). Four nines equates to about 53 minutes of down time or poor performance per year. (How much will that cost your company?) Five nines is 5 minutes per year, but it is getting harder to find end-to-end five nines coverage.

Enterprise buyers will have a check box for SLA. If you want to stand out, have an honest conversation about the service level desired, business continuity, and why the SLA is important to the customer.

Peter Radizeski is president of telecom consulting firm RAD-INFO (News - Alert) INC. (www.rad-info.net).

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere