Service Level Agreements

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) clearly define the quality and quantity of service that is to be provided as well as when and by whom it will be provided They specify quality such as guaranteed response time and throughput as well as maximum jitter Quantity is expressed as a percentage of network availability SLAs identify when the network will be available the maximum amount of time for a single outage scheduled outages and who is providing the service It is important to identify who is providing the service to avoid misconceptions about realms of responsibility Avoid finger pointing by defining which organizations are responsible for which network components and the level of service for which each organization is responsible The SLA must be clearly defined so that both the organization providing the SLA and the organization receiving the SLA understand and agree on the contents SLAs could be provided by outside organizations providing services to your business such as ISPs or companies to which you are outsourcing your network Or they may be provided by internal IT departments providing service to business units within the company

The most effective SLAs are written with business objectives in mind Consider for example the following SLA statements

• Round trip delay is less then 50ms averaged over 1 hour from site A to site B

• Link availability is no less than 95%

These SLA statements are not very useful if the business objectives require 99 9999% availability but do not need anything faster than 400ms round trip delay Any provider that is offering specialized QoS to particular applications end stations or sites will include the guaranteed level of QoS in an SLA

An SLA does not provide any benefit if the service is not monitored The provider guaranteeing the QoS in the SLA will need to verify that the user or application is indeed receiving that QoS An SLA that provides end to end guarantees must be monitored end to end An SLA that states the following

Round trip delay is less than 200ms averaged over 1 hour from users at site A to servers at site B

is measured differently from one that states the following

Round trip delay is less than 100ms averaged over 1 hour from site border routers at site A to site border routers at site B

Both statements may be included in a service level contract and both should be monitored The collected data is reported to both the service provider and the service users Both need to read the reports to verify the SLA has been satisfied

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