The Service Level Agreement (SLA) report is an on-demand report where you can review the SLA status of a single device over a period that you specify.
What is an SLA?
What is an SLA?
A service level agreement, or SLA, is a contract between a service provider and the customer that stipulates and commits the service provider to a required level of service.
Why are SLAs Needed?
SLAs are a key component of a contract with a service provider. SLAs assist in defining how the service is measured, the agreed upon service levels, or uptime, as well as how penalties are levied if service levels are not met. SLAs help to level-set expectations for both the client and the service provider.
Types of SLAs
There are a few common types of SLAs that are used today. In fact, larger organizations may have many SLAs in place between various internal departments.
A customer-based SLA is an agreement with a specific customer group and covers all the products and services they use. A good example of a customer-based SLA is when an organization signs with a telecommunications company. The organization agrees to utilize multiple services, such as VoIP, data, SMS, and other services. For all those services, there will be one contract. Similarly, if the organization uses a specific hardware vendor for their group, any service incidents for anything related to their hardware devices will be managed by a different service provider.
A service-based SLA is an agreement between all customers and a service provider. For example, an organization could use the same IT service provider for multiple departments. Since it is the same service provider, the SLA is the same between the customer groups that share this IT service provider.
A multi–level SLA is an SLA that is divided into different SLA levels, consisting of corporate-level, customer-level, and service-level SLAs, with each level focusing on different customers that use the same services. Multi-level SLAs allow for the customers to include more customization and conditions of the service depending on the needs of their business.
What Components Make up an SLA?
SLAs are usually comprised of a similar set of components that can include any of the following:
- Services Overview. A general overview of the agreement, parties involved, service dates, stakeholders, and services provided.
- Definition of Services. An overview of the service(s) and definitions, how they are to be delivered, exclusions, hours of operation, maintenance schedule, etc.
- Performance of Services. How performance levels are to be addressed and monitored, including what statistics are used to ensure service levels are continually being met.
- Service Issues and Resolution. This component describes and outlines the steps involved for how to report issues with the service, resolution steps, and length of the issue resolution, etc.
- Services Redressing. This includes address what will happen if the service provider cannot meet or fulfill the agreed-upon service levels as defined in the SLA and what penalties will be enforced. This typically includes some form of compensation, such as refunds or credits to the customer, or even language around the right to terminate the SLA by the customer.
What Metrics are Measured in an SLA?
Obviously, depending on the type of SLA and services being used, the metrics used to measure SLAs can vary. Some of the more common metrics involved with call center or IT services management that you may have heard or come across include call abandonment rate, turn around time (TAT), total resolution time (TRT), and mean time to recovery (MTTR).
In the case of IT services specifically, many SLAs follow the guidelines defined by the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) specifications. ITIL is a set of best practices specific for IT services management that can be applied to any organization to help provide alignment between business objectives and IT services. One of the more talked about metrics, especially in the case for IT services and website hosting providers, for example, is uptime.
For example, in the SLA agreement with a web hosting provider, they may agree to maintain 99.999 percent uptime, which is also commonly referred to as the “five nines,” of uptime. This level of uptime indicates that there will be no more than five and a half minutes of downtime per year! If this service level is not met, and the client experiences long periods of downtime, or frequent, small outages throughout the year, there can be costly consequences, like lost revenue, frustrated customers, and negative brand perception.
What is the Cost of Downtime?
A downtime of only a few minutes a year seems pretty good, right? Well, you may be shocked to learn that in some cases, like mission-critical systems or systems that are critical for human safety or medical equipment, etc., that even this length of downtime is considered too much. In terms of web hosting providers, for example, typical SLAs would fall between 99.99 percent and 99.9 percent. To give you some perspective, 99.99 percent per year SLA would equate to roughly 8 hours and 45 minutes of downtime. An SLA of 99.9 percent per year comes out to be just over 50 minutes, or under an hour of downtime per year. And obviously, the amount of downtime a company is comfortable with is dependent on their cost of downtime to that company. It really depends on the unique situation of each company and how long they can afford to be down within a given year.
It is clear any downtime experienced by an organization is bad, and most importantly, bad for users and their online experience. However, downtime does not affect all organizations the same. There have been some surveys and studies that have put the cost of downtime per minute to over $5,000, but it really depends on many factors, including industry, size of company, cost of employees, length of downtime, and more, so it could be much lower, or higher, considering all the factors.
SLA Monitoring with the Dotcom-Monitor Platform
Dotcom-Monitor is set up to monitor and report on the commitments service providers make to customers in SLA agreements. Utilizing SLA monitoring from Dotcom-Monitor allows you entrust in a neutral third-party that your service provider is adhering to their commitments.
SLAs must contain several provisions, including:
- An agreed upon level of service
- Options for support and remediation
- Provisions that outline enforcement when service levels are not met
- A guaranteed level of system performance as it relates to downtime or uptime
- A specified level of customer support
- Specifications regarding what software or hardware will be provided and for what fee
Within the Dotcom-Monitor solution, the SLA report is a special reporting group that provides you with a single view of SLA performance over specified time intervals.
As a Dotcom-Monitor customer, you can define your SLA provisions with your service provider from within the Dotcom-Monitor solution. For example, you can specify that uptime for your website from Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. is expected to be 99.98 percent. Next, you can specify website uptime during non-business hours. For example, you can set uptime between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. to be 99.8 percent during the weekdays and that uptime during the weekends should be 99.5 percent. After setting the above parameters into the SLA reporting tool, the Dotcom-Monitor platform will create summary monitoring reports (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly) showing when, or if, uptime is or is not, met. These SLA reports can be used and shared with both the customer and the service provider, ensuring all parties are made aware of any changes.
For customers, SLA reporting creates benefits by providing the following benefits:
- Determining if a service provider is continuing to meet service level expectations.
- Providing real availability statistics to compare with the SLA.
- Providing any specific days and times when the SLA is not met by the service provider helping to pinpoint performance issues
- Documenting when the SLA is not met in order to ensure refunds, or credits, are distributed appropriately to customers based on the SLA contract.
For service providers, SLA reports create benefits by providing the following benefits:
- Showing your customers that you are continually reviewing and monitoring their website uptime.
- Service providers can provide SLA reports to customers to show that a third-party solution such as Dotcom-Monitor, is determining if uptime is met, or when an SLA is frequently exceeded.
- Having a Documentation process in place proves actual uptime and helps to address disputes arising around the SLA, avoiding unnecessary chargebacks.
- Quickly identify the responsible parties if an SLA falls below an acceptable or pre-defined threshold.
If you have an SLA with your hosting service provider, you can count on the website monitoring and network monitoring services from Dotcom-Monitor to provide you with the ability to monitor and enforce continuous SLA compliance.
How to Create an SLA Report
The SLA report can be created on-demand to assist in SLA management and to track service level requirements as set by the service provider. SLA reports can be configured to meet your specific needs and business requirements.
You can configure an SLA Report for a monitoring device under Reports > Email SLA Report or by selecting SLA from a device action menu. From this screen, you can further customize the report by configuring the SLA report settings. For example, you can set the output of the report (CSV or PDF), reporting periods (daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly), and select from all monitoring locations or just a few specific locations, depending on your requirements.
Additionally on this page, you also have the option to set response filters that filter out and ignore any error conditions you do not want to appear on the SLA report. For example, you can set up a filter that only reports an error if more than three monitoring locations report the same error. Next, you can set the scheduler to include the day/time periods to include, or exclude, monitoring services. Just note that the schedule must be set prior to creating the SLA report.
Lastly, you can specify the SLA uptime percentage, start date and end date, and the appropriate email address or notification group (if appropriate) that the report can be sent to. Once the report is ready, you can review the uptime chart and SLA table to ensure the specified target SLA goal has been met or if any failures occurred over the course of the monitoring period. Any length of time where the uptime percentage was not met will show up highlighted in red on the report. Any periods where monitoring was postponed will show up as yellow on the report. There may be occasions throughout the year where you may want to indicate when you want to postpone monitoring during routine maintenance so that your reports do not include unnecessary false alerts.
The SLA report below shows SLA uptime metrics for various performance counter monitoring devices.
For more information about building your SLA Report, read our article about configuring an SLA Report and watch this short video on how to quickly and easily create an SLA Report.