SLA Monitoring

As businesses are continuously scaled to meet the increased customer needs, it is important that the network keep pace with the associated demands. Moreover, the need for an enhanced end-user experience has caused a lot of bottlenecks while monitoring an enterprise-level network. Network admins have to check on their network constantly to ensure that the service supplied is of great quality.

While it is difficult to ensure the quality of service provided, customers often require assurances regarding the reliability of the network, and this is where service-level agreements (SLAs) come in. As the name suggests, an SLA is a set of assurances offered by the service provider, which if not met, might result in a penalty.

What is an SLA and why is it important?

An SLA is a binding contract between the service provider and its client. It explains the quality of service to be provided by the service provider. If the provider cannot meet the set conditions, it will be penalized according to the terms mentioned in the SLA. There are three types of SLAs:

  • Corporate level: The SLA is between the departments within an organization.
  • Customer level: The SLA is between an organization and its customer.
  • Multilevel: The SLA is formed with multiple customers, and the quality of service might vary depending on the service level the customer chooses.

With network performance ensurance becoming more important than ever, SLAs play a major role in ensuring that hassle-free service is provided by the service provider. The following are some of the reasons why SLAs are important.

  1. Establishing service requirements: Using SLAs, clients can define their expectations from the service providers. By defining their objectives in the SLA, clients can hold the service providers accountable for meeting set standards.
  2. Defining quality of service (QoS): Clients can also define the QoS by setting up baseline values for various performance metrics. In addition to avoiding network downtime, defining the quality of service helps clients obtain optimum network performance.
  3. Setting up contingencies: The steps to be taken in the event of a catastrophe can also be included in the SLA. By establishing contingencies, service providers have an authorized plan for recovering from a network emergency. It enables the service provider to follow pre-approved steps to get the network up and running again as soon as possible.
  4. Compensation mandates: In case the service provider can't meet the established requirements of the SLA, it will be penalized. The compensation will be clearly defined in the SLA, which might prevent future conflicts.

What are the key components of a service-level agreement?

Service-level objectives (SLO): An SLO is a set of objectives that the client expects from the service provider. It is basically an established, quantified quality of service, that the service provider is obligated to provide. Failure to meet the SLO might result in a penalty and compensation for the client. Apart from the monetary losses, failure to comply with SLAs can lead to a negative brand reputation, which might impact the organization's future business goals.

Service-level indicators (SLI): An SLI is a key metric that is monitored to ensure compliance with SLAs. While SLOs are the expected QoS, SLI is the current QoS that a service provider provides to clients. If the SLIs fail to meet the set SLOs, the service providers must provide compensation to their clients. Moreover, by understanding their current QoS, service providers can optimize their SLIs to their needs, while staying compliant with SLAs. Service providers can ensure the reliability of their network, by keeping the network updates to a minimum in case the SLI is about to fall behind the SLO. If the SLI is way ahead of the SLO, organizations can enhance their network performance by bringing in frequent updates.

Error budget: An error budget describes the period of time when a client can experience decreased quality of service, without contractual consequences. In other words, error budget is the maximum amount of time a network can fail without any repercussions. By analyzing the error budget, service providers can better maintain the balance between the reliability and the scalability that a network requires.

How does a network monitoring solution fit into this picture?

A network monitoring solution helps you comply with SLAs by helping you keep tabs on your entire network, and improving the overall QoS offered.

  • By constantly monitoring the network, a network monitoring solution alerts the network admins in case the set threshold is violated. The alert is then relayed to the concerned technician, who looks into the issue and resolves it promptly, thereby improving the mean time to repair (MTTR).
  • With a comprehensive visualization of the network, network admins can easily visualize the bottlenecks and circumvent them proactively.
  • Using automated workflows, organizations can address the monotonous tasks that often occur from a mishap. This helps get the service or device up and running promptly, so that the downtime is within the error budget specified.
  • By ensuring optimum network performance, service providers can improve the overall quality of the service offered.
  • Using a network monitoring solution, network admins gain a comprehensive understanding about the network which is helpful for deciding on the proportion between scalability and reliability the network offers, while complying with the SLAs.

How can OpManager help you comply with SLAs?

ManageEngine OpManager is a comprehensive network monitoring solution that helps network admins keep tabs on the network, and eliminate bottlenecks. OpManager, with it's power-packed features, helps network admins monitor the entire network, and ensure optimum network performance.

Here's how OpManager helps network admins comply with SLAs:

Keeps a close eye on network performance: OpManager's advanced performance monitoring capability features helps network admins monitor networks, and optimize them for their best performance. This helps network admins meet their established SLA standards. Learn more.

Helps achieve network QoS metrics: The quality of service provided by the service provider depends on various factors such as VoIP, latency, and jitter. By using OpManager's IP SLA monitoring feature, network admins can monitor relevant metrics, and optimize them to meet the conditions promised in the SLA. Learn more.

Monitors the quality of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) across a network: The VoIP is a key quality of service factor that determines the quality of internet calls. Most prevalent among telecom operators, this metric must be optimized to enhance the end-user experience. OpManager's VoIP monitoring feature enables network admins to monitor the quality of the internet calls ensuring the nature of the service provided can be assessed better. Learn more.

Automates the threshold configuration process: Establishing baseline values for a network's optimum performance is a tedious process. That's why OpManager enables automation of the threshold configuration process. All it needs is three days of data to begin, and voila! Over time, the data model becomes even more acquainted with the system, and can rollout increasingly reliable forecast values. Learn more.

Manages and rectifies faults: OpManager's proactive fault management capabilities helps network admins prepare for the doomsday scenario, if such an event were to happen. It detects, isolates, and rectifies faults quickly and efficiently. OpManager enables network admins to use automated workflows to carry out vital static tasks that are necessary to perform in case of a mishap. Learn more.

Analyzes and determines the root cause of your bottlenecks: OpManager gets to the root cause of an issue quickly, and brings the service back up promptly to decrease MTTR and stay within the error budget specified in the SLA. OpManager provides a unified console for all data so network admins can analyze it, visualize it, and efficiently get to the root cause of the issue. Learn more.

Provides a comprehensive understanding of the network layout: Using OpManager's powerful network visualization features, network admins can eliminate blindspots and get comprehensive visibility into their network. Learn more.

Leverages the Netflow Analyzer add-on to gain insights into bandwidth consumption: OpManager, utilizing the Netflow Analyzer add-on, helps network admins gain in-depth visibility into bandwidth bottlenecks, identify resource-hogging applications, monitor network traffic, and optimize them for maximum performance. Learn more.

Ensures seamless integrations: OpManager is compatible with the major ITSM tools in the market. By relaying the alert to the concerned technician at the right time, service can be restored as soon as possible. This decreases the MTTR, and helps stay within the error budget of the SLA. Learn more.

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