In this e-book, we’ll look at four areas where metrics are vital to enterprise IT. Most organizations with service level definitions for performance create only a handful of performance definitions because measuring performance from every point in the network to every other point requires significant resources and creates a high amount of network overhead. It could also be extremely expensive and resource intensive. See the following table: So far, the service level definitions have focused on how the operations support organization reacts to problems after they are identified. New computers will be configured and delivered within five business days. For example, you might have an availability level of 99.999 percent, or 5 minutes of downtime per year. Add specific messages or issues to the service level definition if the need arises. In this step, you bring together everything you need to build the service. This allows the organization to implement solutions correctly the first time, with the least amount of downtime or rework. Primary support SLAs should include critical business units and functional group representation, such as networking operations, server operations, and application support groups. Service levels provide goals for all network personnel and can be used as a metric in the quality of the overall service. Keep in mind that WAN environments are simply other networks that are subject to the same availability issues as the organization's network, including hardware failure, software failure, user error, and power failure. Too often a network is put in place to meet a particular goal, yet the networking group loses sight of that goal and subsequent business requirements. The amount of downtime in minutes for a one-year period, given any availability level, is: Minutes of downtime in one year = 525600 - (Availability level X 5256). The next table defines service level definitions for end-to-end performance and capacity. Whether or not the parameter moves on to a SLA, the organization should think about how the service parameter might be measured or justified when problems or service disagreements occur. Measuring the service level determines whether the organization is meeting objectives and also identifies the root cause of availability or performance issues. When the networking organization publishes service standards for availability, business groups within the organization may find the level unacceptable. Service elements for high-availability environments should include proactive service definitions as well as reactive goals. As a result, they spend most of their time reacting to user complaints or problems instead of proactively identifying the root cause and building a network service that meets business requirements. Welcome to lesson 4 ‘Service Level Management’ of the ITIL Intermediate SOA tutorial, which is a part ofthe ITIL Intermediate SOA Foundation Certification course. This helps provide accuracy for identifying the start time of a problem. Little work has been done in this area. ©Copyright 2005-2021 BMC Software, Inc. The ITIL strategy section talks about how crucial it is to understand your … User groups may also be present when SLAs are involved. Responsibilities of both parties 4. Please let us know by emailing It includes critical success factors for service-level management and performance indicators to help evaluate success. To visualize trend information, it is useful to graph KPI data periodically. Technology limitations cover any constraint posed by the technology itself. Perform the service level management review in a monthly meeting with individuals responsible for measuring and providing defined service levels. One method is to send Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) ping packets from a core location in the network to edges. Unfortunately, most networking organizations today have limited service level definitions and no performance indicators. The final step is creating the draft SLA agreement. From the network manager's perspective, it is important to negotiate achievable results that can be measured. Learn more about BMC ›. In some cases, upper management will create these SLAs at very high-availability or high-performance levels to promote their service and to provide internal goals for internal employees. The final document is typically called an operations support plan. Prioritize constraints in terms of the greatest risk or impact to the desired goal. Avoid creating a single SLA for your entire service catalogue. In these cases, a set budget is allocated to the network, which may overreact to current needs or grossly underestimate the requirement, resulting in failure. Like network errors, developing a service level definition for capacity and performance starts with a general understanding of how these problem conditions will be detected, who will look at them, and what will happen when they occur. A new user will be created within one day of receiving an approved new user request form. We generally recommend that any major component of an SLA be measurable and that a measurement methodology be put in place prior to SLA implementation. This helps the organization understand resource requirements and levels of expertise for each support level. When looking at service and support metrics, representatives of the organization found that hardware replacement was taking approximately 24 hours, much longer than the original estimate because the organization had budgeted only four. This helps make the SLA process similar to any modern quality improvement program. Measuring availability and performance is one area often neglected in service level metrics. In summary, service level management allows an organization to move from a reactive support model to a proactive support model where network availability and performance levels are determined by business requirements, not by the latest set of problems. Joe Hertvik works in the tech industry as a business owner and an IT Director, specializing in Data Center infrastructure management and IBM i management. This information will be used to create priorities for different business-impacting problem types, prioritize business-critical traffic on the network and create future standard networking solutions based on business requirements. Also consider the goal when choosing a method to measure the service level definition. This can lead a support organization into providing premier service to individual groups, a scenario that may undermine the overall service culture of the organization. The environment uses backup generators and UPS systems for all network components and properly manages power. The charter should express the goals, initiatives, and time frames for the SLA. For example, a customer might insist his application is the most critical within the corporation when in reality the cost of downtime for that application is significantly less than others in terms of lost revenue, lost productivity, and lost customer goodwill. This allows the metrics group to average all devices with the availability group to obtain a reasonable result. In addition to setting the service expectations, the organization should also take care to define each of the service standards so that user and IT groups working with networking fully understand the service standard and how it relates to their application or server administration requirements. Network design is then limited to a measurable value based on software and hardware failure in the network causing traffic re-routing. Your service desk must be capable of gathering and presenting the necessary metrics to determine whether an SLA has been accomplished. Service satisfaction may be governed by users with little differentiation between applications, server/client operations, or network support. Technical goals include availability levels, throughput, jitter, delay, response time, scalability requirements, new feature introductions, new application introductions, security, manageability, and even cost. See the following table: In addition to service response and service resolution, build a matrix for escalation. It may be useful for network managers to understand the amount of downtime at any particular availability level. If an organization has multiple building entrance facilities, redundant local-loop providers, Synchronous-Optical-Network (SONET) local access, and redundant long-distance carriers with geographic diversity, WAN availability will be considerably enhanced. Communicating the Incident Let us look at the objectives of this lesson. SLM (Service Level Management) or SLA Management processes provide a framework by which services are defined, service levels required to support business processes are agreed upon, Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Operational Level Agreements (OLAs) are developed to satisfy the agreements, and costs of services are developed. Organizations should evaluate how quickly they can repair broken hardware. For example, no current technology allows for sub-second convergence times in redundant network environments, which may be critical for sustaining voice connections across the network. If the organization currently measures availability, you may not need an availability budget. New users will be added to the system within one day of receipt of a completed new user form, provided management has approved adding the user. Experts in IT SLA development identified three prerequisites to a successful SLA. 3 min read A traditional SLA uses IT operational metrics such as Telecommunication lines must be up 99.1% of the time. Keep in mind that even simple connections with a few people can seriously impact revenue. For this reason, we recommend that network architects develop performance and capacity-related service level definitions with vendor input. Accurate theoretical information is useful in several ways: The organization can use this as a goal for internal availability and deviations can be quickly defined and remedied. All rights reserved. Note: For the purposes of this document, non-scalable design or design errors are included in the following section. Remember that added service is equivalent to extra expense. In some cases, you will need application or server re-starts that significantly add to overall application downtime. When problem severity has been defined, define or investigate the support process to create service response definitions. Create an SLA that stops tracking time to resolution while you’re waiting for a … User and IT groups should also understand how the service standard might be measured. Organizations of all shapes and sizes can use any number of metrics. This is the last step toward basic service level management; it defines the reactive and proactive processes and network management capabilities that you implement to achieve service level goals. Customer/business initiatives must drive all IT activities. These thresholds may then apply to all three performance and capacity management processes in some way. The following service level areas are typically measured using help-desk database statistics and periodic auditing. Keep in mind that these statistics may apply only to completely redundant core networks and don't factor in non-availability due to local-loop access, which is a major contributor to non-availability in WAN networks. Network technology, resiliency, and configuration constraints are any limitations or risks associated with the current technology, hardware, links, design, or configuration. Create application profiles any time you introduce new applications to the network. The remaining proactive service level definitions can be divided into two categories: network errors and capacity/performance issues. This leads to unclear requirements for proactive service definitions and unclear benefits, especially because additional resources may be needed. In the ITIL service lifecycle, SLAs are defined and modified in two core areas: This means that SLAs for IT services should be created alongside any specifications for new and updated services. Service Level Agreement Best Practices: Everything You Need to Know. See the next section for methodologies to measure availability and performance. SLAs are a collection of promises the service provider makes to the customer. The network SLA workgroup should also consist of broad application and business representation in order to obtain agreement on one network SLA that encompasses many applications and services. To determine this, the organization needs to understand the MTBF of all network components and the MTTR for hardware problems for all devices in a path between two points. These contents should be unambiguous and written in an easily-understood style. For a conservative evaluation, we can say that an organization with backup generators, uninterruptible-power-supply (UPS) systems, and quality power implementation processes may experience six 9s of availability, or 99.9999 percent, whereas organizations without these systems may experience availability at 99.99 percent, or approximately 36 minutes of downtime annually. Methodology for tracking KPIs 6. Closed – The incident is resolved and there are no further actions required. New phones will be ordered and delivered within one week of request. SLAs help determine standard tools and resources needed to meet business requirements. They just want you to help them. Documented service-level definition or SLA that includes availability, performance, reactive service response time, problem resolution goals, and problem escalation. There is no precise method to exactly match the required service level to the desired goals. The phone service is a fairly accurate availability budget for non-redundant network connectivity in WAN environments. Additional days will be needed when a holiday falls within a delivery period. The networking SLA workgroup should initially meet once a week to develop the SLA. These metrics may require management influence to consistently enter problems in the database and update problems in real time. This table shows example of problem severity for an organization. Each meeting should have a defined agenda that includes: Review of measured service levels for the given period, Review of improvement initiatives defined for individual areas. However, the main issue with this method is that it does not define proactive support requirements. This helps identify the necessary bandwidth, maximum delay for application usability, and jitter requirements. Determine the parties involved in the SLA. If an organization then sees value in basic proactive service definitions, more variables can be added over time without significant impact, as long as you implement a phased approach. When you complete the application profile, you can compare overall network capabilities and help to align network service levels with business and application requirements. For instance, the maximum response time will be very different for a round-trip ping than for hitting the Enter key at a remote location for a specific application. This section contains examples for reactive service definitions and proactive service definitions to consider for many service-provider and enterprise organizations. For the above availability definition, this is equal to the average amount of downtime for all connections in service within the network. Like a watermelon, the service provider sees a green SLA being met on the outside—99.9% telecom uptime—while the customer sees a red SLA failing on the inside—their users are losing connectivity when the line is swamped. Life-cycle practices define the processes and management of the network used to consistently deploy solutions, detect and repair problems, prevent capacity or performance problems, and configure the network for consistency and modularity. Other service providers will concentrate on the technical aspects of improving availability by creating strong service level definitions that are measured and managed internally. Availability is the probability that a product or service will operate when needed. Network service constraints such as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), Domain Name System (DNS), firewalls, protocol translators, and network address translators should also be considered. Make sure that user groups understand that additional levels of service will cost more and let them make the decision if it is a critical business requirement. To define the support process, it helps to define the goals of each support tier in the organization and their roles and responsibilities. Reactive definitions define how the organization will react to problems after they have been identified from either user complaint or network management capabilities. The other successful method of calculating availability is to use trouble tickets and a measurement called impacted user minutes (IUM). Once you better understand these risks and inhibitors, network planners may wish to factor in some quantity of non-availability due to these issues. You can easily perform a cost analysis on many aspects of the SLA such as hardware replacement time. In general, service response definitions require a tiered support structure coupled with a help desk software support system to track problems via trouble tickets. A network analyst and an application or server support application should create the application profile. These may be defined for different areas of the network or specific applications. Another example may be the raw speed that data can traverse on terrestrial links, which is approximately 100 miles per millisecond. This solution may have limited bandwidth for the duration of the outage. Some work may also be done using availability modeling and the proactive cases to determine the effect in availability achieved by implementing proactive service definitions. Technical assistance can much more closely approximate the availability and performance capabilities of the network and what would be needed to reach specific objectives. First there must be commitment to learn the SLA process to develop effective agreements. SLAs are a collection of promises the service provider... 2. The next step is identifying participants in the SLA working group, including a group leader. The service definition simply states how the operations group will proactively identify and respond to network or link down conditions in different areas of the network. The service culture is important because the SLA process is fundamentally about making improvements based on customer needs and business requirements. The service level definition simply defines performance and capacity exception thresholds and average thresholds that will initiate investigation or upgrade. Joe also provides consulting services for IBM i shops, Data Centers, and Help Desks. By understanding the needs of the various business groups, the initial SLA document will be much closer to the business requirement and desired result. You can add specific event definitions to the service level definition if the need arises. Reports generated from this kind of metric will normally sort problems by priority, work group, and individual to help determine potential issues. Service-provider SLAs do not normally include user input because they are created for the sole purpose of gaining a competitive edge on other service providers. An application profile should include the following items: File transfer requirements (including time, volume, and endpoints), Delay, jitter, and availability requirements. This should be done whether or not SLAs are in place. 2) IT Service Management is NOT Only ITIL. Implementing service-level management consists of sixteen steps divided into the following two main categories: Network managers need to define the major rules by which the network is supported, managed, and measured. Measurement is then done in terms of the quantity or percentage of proactive cases, as opposed to reactive cases that are generated by users. The organization will also need to define areas that may be confusing to users and IT groups. If the organization has no sparing plan and relies on a standard Cisco SMARTnet™ agreement, then the potential average replacement time is approximately 24 hours. For more on service level management, browse the BMC Service Management Blog and check out these articles: Every business and organization can take advantage of vast volumes and variety of data to make well informed strategic decisions — that’s where metrics come in. Service Level Management (SLM) deals with negotiating, agreeing and documenting existing services with some level of policies. A simple example would be a MTBF of 35,433 hours for each of two redundant identical devices and a switchover time of 30 seconds. Of course you can adjust these values to more realistic values based on the organization's perception or actual data. These guarantee levels are sometimes simply marketing and sales methods used to promote the carrier. Shortcomings such as low expertise, current process limitations, or inadequate staffing levels may prevent the organization from achieving the desired standards or goals, even after the previous service analysis steps. In other cases, both efforts occur simultaneously but not necessarily together or with the same goals. The network organization must listen closely to these business requirements and develop specialized solutions that fit into the overall support structure. If you use the availability level of 99.95 percent, this works out to be equal to 525600 - (99.95 X 5256), or 262.8 minutes of downtime. Tuning SLAs helps achieve that balanced optimal level. This helps to ensure that the network supports individual application requirements and network services overall. These categories would include down devices, down links, network errors, and capacity violations. Most application support plans include only reactive support requirements. In this example, users will simply hang up the phone and possibly try again. The organization then set service level goals for availability and made agreements with user groups. Bandwidth requirements and capabilities for burst, Availability requirements and redundancy to build solution matrix, Monitoring and reporting requirements, methodology, and procedures, Upgrade criteria for application/service elements, Funding out-of-budget requirements or cross-charging methodology. Since you cannot theoretically calculate the amount of non-availability due to user error and process, we recommend you remove this removed from the availability budget and that organizations strive for perfection. Include the first area of proactive service definitions in all operations support plans. Best practices for using the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) set of practices in Jira Service Management. See Implementing Service-level Management for more details. Creating an estimate of availability for WAN environments should be based on actual carrier information and the level of redundancy for WAN connectivity. This example analysis indicates then that LAN availability would fall on average between 99.95 and 99.989 percent. While ITIL is probably the most widely-used iteration of ITSM best practices, it rarely is used in isolation. You must also consider environmental and power issues in availability. This is typically accomplished with a process called network baselining, which helps to define network performance, availability, or capacity averages for a defined time period, normally about one month. are planned by the IT service provider. The network operations group and the necessary tools groups can perform the following metrics. For example, if you’re providing printer support, the customer may request a response time of four hours between 8 AM to 5 PM weekdays. Network link constraints should focus on network links and carrier connectivity for enterprise organizations. Next the group should develop specific task plans and determine schedules and timetables for developing and implementing the SLA. Hopefully the organization has application profiles on each application, but if not, consider doing a technical evaluation of the application to determine network-related issues. Calculate non-availability due to system switchover time by looking at the theoretical software and hardware availability along redundant paths, because switchover will occur in this area. Sometimes it helps to invite other IT technical counterparts into this discussion because these individuals have specific goals related to their services. We recommend general definitions by geographic area. Best practices for setting up an SLA. Network organizations have historically met expanding network requirements by building solid network infrastructures and working reactively to handle individual service issues. In the network SLA, these variables are handled by prioritizing business applications for potential QoS tuning, defining help-desk priorities for MTTR of different network-impacting issues, and developing a solution matrix that will help handle different availability and performance requirements. It’s just as important to define where an SLA does not apply as where it does apply. Like other service level definitions, the service level document should detail how the goals will be measured, parties responsible for measurement, and non-conformance processes. In this case, be sure to help the customer understand the availability and performance risks that may occur so that the organization better understands the level of service it needs. Develop > Processes and Best Practices > Service Level Management Overview > Key performance indicators for Service Level Management. 10. When an outage occurred, the organization would build new processes, management capabilities, or infrastructure that to prevent a particular outage from occurring again. Create a service-level definition that includes availability, performance, service response time, mean time to resolve problems, fault detection, upgrade thresholds, and escalation path. In addition, the networking organization should understand the impact of network downtime. When expressed as a percentage of total minutes in the time period, this can be easily converted to availability. To accomplish this, the organization must build the service with the current technical constraints, availability budget, and application profiles in mind. You may also need additional work in the following areas to ensure success: Tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3 support responsibilities, Balancing the priority of the network management information with the amount of proactive work that the operations group can effectively handle, Training requirements to ensure support staff can effectively deal with the defined alerts, Event correlation methodologies to ensure that multiple trouble tickets are not generated for the same root-cause problem, Documentation on specific messages or alerts that helps with event identification at tier 1 support level, The following table shows an example service level definition for network errors that provide a clear understanding of who is responsible for proactive network error alerts, how the problem will be identified, and what will happen when the problem occurs. 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