RealTime IT News

Service-Level Agreements in a Box?

Clearview and MySLA.com earlier this week announced AwareSL, a full-featured facility for designing and implement customized service-level agreements.

Responding to an increasingly urgent need for clearly defined and well monitored SLAs for both "insourced" and outsourced network and application solutions, AwareSL will let customers create agreements individually tailored to specific business processes, managing and monitoring them through an intelligent Internet portal.

The joint effort will draw on the complementary experience the two companies have garnered in the area of service level management. Clearview brings to the party its expertise in process methodologies, while MySLA contributes more on the instrumentation and reporting end.

Regarding the need for SLAs, Clearview partner Jay Looney told ASP-News "In the world of outsourcing, insourcing, ASPs, ISPs, and Website management companies, it's becoming more and more difficult to see where things are working well—and not so well. The question 'Am I getting all of what I'm paying you for' applies across a constantly broadening range of business relationships."

In addition to establishing mutually agreed upon performance standards—the basic fabric of an SLA—AwareSL will provide "critical measurement and reporting that completes the process and provides businesses the ability to check and troubleshoot these operations at will," said Looney.

According to Tom Robinson, CEO of MySLA.com, AwareSL is the service is the first ever designed "to capture critical performance data through all levels of services, from network access, through transaction (web and middleware) functionality, up to line-of-business application performance."

Measurement and monitoring are critical to implementing successful agreements, but according to Robinson, the process begins with an analysis of a business process and a definition of service-level metrics and breakpoints.

"Customers first need a process clearly defined," Robinson said. "Then we can go on to identify measurable metrics, and finally turn this into bottom-line conclusions." The resulting system is able to produce business-oriented responses to technical problems, as opposed to the relatively simple error trapping capabilities of most network management systems.

In a world in which organizations are increasingly buying application and other technical services by competitive bid, accountability is a must, Robinson observed. "ASPs, with their multi-tiered supplier structures, are more dependent on outsourced relationships than anyone else. When your whole business is built on a web of contracts and commitments, it's a good idea to put those on as solid a footing as you can," Robinson said.

AwareSL is open for business now, according to Clearview's Looney, but it's not fully operational. The partners are still working on the integration of some of the application monitoring tools—which, following the ASP model, are being hosted.