How To: SLA Monitoring & Reporting
Are you tired of feeling like you're in the dark about the services you're paying for? Are you getting what you paid for? Many businesses are in the same boat when it comes to Service Level Agreement (SLA) monitoring and reporting. It’s great having an SLA (or Service-Level Agreement) for the provision of a service, but you need to go further to really understand if the standards specified in the SLA are actually being met. That’s where SLA monitoring and reporting comes in.
Today we're going to shed some light on this topic and help you figure out if you're truly getting what you paid for. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let's dive into the world of SLA monitoring and reporting!
- What is an SLA?
- What is SLA Monitoring?
- What are the Benefits of SLA Monitoring?
- Step 1. Deploy End-to-End Network Monitoring
- Step 2. Monitor Performance Metrics
- Step 3. Monitor User Experience Metrics
- Step 4. Analyze Historical Data
- Step 5. Create SLA Focused Dashboards
- Step 6. Set Up SLA-Focused Alerts
- Step 7. Configure SLA Reporting
- What If Your SLA Isn't Being Met?
- Begin the SLA Monitoring & Reporting Setup
Service-Level Agreements are publicly stated or implied contracts with users. SLAs are used to give assurance to customers that Service Providers are providing the standard and level of service that was agreed on.
An SLA typically outlines the specific services to be provided, the quality standards that will be met, the responsibilities of both parties, and the remedies or penalties if the provider fails to meet the agreed-upon service levels. SLAs are commonly used in the IT industry to ensure that the provider delivers the expected level of service, such as uptime, response time, and resolution time for incidents. However, SLAs can be used in any industry where a service is being provided to a customer.
But, when problems arise with a given service, whether they’re VoIP problems, Internet problems, or network problems, users can’t help but wonder “Am I really getting what I was promised?”
SLA Monitoring (or Service-Level Agreement Monitoring) is the process of measuring, tracking, and analyzing a variety of metrics associated with a given service in order to calculate the service level of a deployed software or service and compare it against the agreed upon SLA requirements.
This process can include measuring metrics, creating reports and dashboards, setting up alerts, and more.
Now, you may be wondering if you really need to monitor your SLA. Well, the truth is that your Service Provider won't do it for you. And they won't be the ones to notify you if your service isn't performing as promised. So if you really want to know if you're getting what you paid for, SLA monitoring is for you!
Monitoring and reporting on a Service-Level Agreement (SLA) can provide several benefits for both service providers the customers, including:
- Ensuring service quality: Monitoring and reporting on SLAs can help service providers ensure that they are delivering the expected level of service quality to their customers. This can help build customer trust and loyalty.
- Identifying areas for improvement: By monitoring SLA performance, service providers can identify areas where they can improve their services and processes to better meet customer needs and expectations.
- Early detection of issues: Monitoring SLAs can help service providers detect issues or potential problems early, allowing them to take corrective action before the issue becomes a major problem for the customer.
- Managing customer expectations: SLA monitoring and reporting can help manage customer expectations by providing a clear understanding of the level of service they can expect to receive.
- Resolving disputes: If a dispute arises between the service provider and the customer regarding service levels, the SLA can be used as a reference point for resolving the issue.
Overall, monitoring and reporting on SLAs can help service providers and customers work together more effectively to ensure that the service being provided meets the agreed-upon level of quality and helps drive business success.
Here’s how to do that:
SLA monitoring requires data and attention to detail.
Service Providers need to make sure that they meet the terms of the SLA, and users need to check that the service they paid for has been provided.
The best way to achieve this is by deploying a continuous, end-to-end Network Monitoring tool, like Obkio Network Performance Monitoring software.
Obkio uses synthetic traffic to measure performance every 500ms and monitor:
- Your local network (LAN, VPN) and third-party networks (WAN, ISP, and Internet Peering)
- Applications like VoIP (or VoIP PBX), Unified Communications (Zoom and Microsoft Teams)
- Network devices like Firewalls, routers, and switches
- Services like SD-WAN and MPLS
- And, most importantly, the end-user experience
Deploying a tool like Obkio in all your key network locations allows you to automate the SLA monitoring process and collect and share the information you need to monitor your service-level agreement.
Get started with Obkio’s Free Trial!
Performance metrics typically measure technical aspects of network performance and uptime. These metrics are used to evaluate how well the network is performing in terms of delivering data between different points.
For example, a network administrator might use performance metrics to assess how quickly a file can be transferred from one computer to another, or how many packets are being dropped due to network congestion.
Some common performance metrics for SLA monitoring include:
- Jitter: A disruption that occurs while data packets travel across the network.
- Packet Loss: The number of data packets that were successfully sent out from one point in a network, but were dropped during data transmission and never reached their destination.
- Latency: The measure of time it takes for data to reach its destination across a network.
- VoIP Quality
- Throughput: The amount of data passing through the network from point A to point B in a determined amount of time.
- Bandwidth: The maximum amount of data that a network connection can transmit within a specific time frame.
- Network Availability: The amount of time that the service is available to users. Availability is typically expressed as a percentage, such as 99.9% uptime.
- Network Error Rate: The percentage of packets that are lost or corrupted during transmission across a network.
Measuring these network performance metrics act as Service Level Indicators (SLIs) that will help you understand how your network, application, or service is really performing. High levels of packet loss or jitter, for example, can be a sign that your network is not performing as it should be - or as your SLA intended.
Obkio continuously measures these key network metrics in real-time so you always know how your network is performing, and can proactively identify performance issues.
A big part of SLA monitoring is understanding whether the performance of an application or service is meeting the user requirements, as intended by the SLA.
One way to identify that is by measuring user experience metrics.
User experience metrics, on the other hand, are focused on the end-user experience of using the network. These metrics measure how the user perceives the network performance, and can include factors such as page load times, application response times, and overall user satisfaction. User experience metrics are important because they give network administrators insight into how well the network is meeting the needs of the users who rely on it.
Some common user experience metrics for SLA monitoring include:
- User Quality of Experience: The perception of the user of the effectiveness and quality of the system or service.
- Customer Satisfaction: Customer satisfaction measures how satisfied users are with the service. This metric can be measured through surveys or other feedback mechanisms and can provide valuable insights into user perceptions of the service.
- Network Response Time: The time it takes for the service to respond to user requests. This metric is critical for ensuring that the service is providing a timely and responsive experience for users.
- MOS (Mean Opinion Score): A rating from 1 to 5 of the perceived quality of a voice call, 1 being the lowest score and 5 the highest for excellent quality.
Obkio uses synthetic traffic (synthetic monitoring) to simulate the end-user experience when using various applications like VoIP or Video, to interpret the performance that users are actually experiencing.
The data from both performance metrics and user experience metrics will help you understand if your performance and user experience are meeting the SLA requirements. Service Providers can also measure these metrics to proactively address issues and maintain high levels of customer satisfaction.
Another big part of SLA monitoring and reporting is collecting and analyzing historical data.
Obkio measures and collects historical network performance data, so you can analyze, compare, and troubleshoot performance from the past.
This allows you to:
- Identify if your application or service performance stops meeting SLA requirements
- Pinpoint intermittent performance issues like intermittent Internet connection
- Diagnose performance issues from the past
- Share performance data with your Service Provider over a longer period of time
Performance isn’t always stable, so network testing is important to understand how your network or application is performing in real-time, but also throughout a longer period of time to keep your SLA accountable.
In larger, more complex networks, you may have many services, applications and network locations to monitor. So how can you drill-down on the data that matters for your SLA reporting?
Obkio allows you to create customizable, real-time dashboards so you can visualize the data related to your SLA all in one place.
Track the performance of your network and service in one place, and how they impact other services, network locations and users
You can also include graphs and charts of various network locations or applications that you’re currently monitoring.
For many businesses, not meeting their SLAs is serious business. If you’re the service provider creating the SLAs, it could seriously affect your reputation.
So, in addition to creating custom dashboards, Obkio allows you to set up automatic alerts (or Smart Notifications) around SLA-specific metrics that matter to you most.
They can be raised because a Network Issue is detected (such as high packet loss), when a network device is down, when there's a network outage or when there’s a big change, or even a slight change, in network performance.
Automatic alerts automate the SLA monitoring process so you know when your performance expectations aren’t being met.
SLA monitoring involves tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) that are outlined in the agreement, and generating regular reports is an effective way to keep stakeholders informed about the service provider's performance.
The information you can collect in Obkio Network Performance Monitoring App gives you a precise and continuous view of your network performance. Obkio’s Network Performance Reports feature helps you extract and analyze a large amount of data from Obkio’s App all at once.
Obkio's reports can provide a wealth of information about SLA performance, including metrics such as availability, response time, throughput, and error rate. Reports can also provide trend analysis and other data visualization tools that make it easy to identify patterns and trends in performance over time.
- Summarize Data: Generate reports to view network metrics, show moments of network performance degradation, or highlight network issues.
- Download Reports: Download reports using a public URL. Users don’t need to have a user created in Obkio’s App to download reports.
- Share Reports: Send reports via email to a list of email addresses to send reports to multiple contacts at once.
- Schedule Reports: Schedule reports to run and be generated on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Learn more about Report Schedules.
In addition to providing valuable insights into SLA performance, SLA reporting also has many other benefits:
- Informed Decision-Making: SLA reports can be used to inform decision-making and prioritize areas for improvement. For example, if a report shows that a particular KPI is consistently falling short of the agreed-upon target, this may indicate that resources should be allocated to address that issue.
- Faciliate Communication: Regular reports can also facilitate communication between the service provider and the customer. By sharing regular reports, the service provider can demonstrate transparency and accountability, while the customer can gain a deeper understanding of the service provider's performance and take any necessary actions to address any concerns.
Overall, SLA reports are an important tool for monitoring SLAs, and should be generated regularly and shared with all relevant stakeholders. By leveraging the insights provided by reports, both service providers and customers can work together to ensure that SLAs are being met and that the service is meeting the needs of its users.
After monitoring your SLA, you'll likely realize one of two things. Either:
- Your SLA is being met
- Your SLA isn't being met
If your Service-Level Agreement (SLA) isn't met, there are several steps you can take to address the issue:
- Notify your service provider: The first step is to notify the service provider that the SLA has not been met. Be specific about the issue and provide any relevant data or metrics that demonstrate that the SLA has not been met.
- Work with the service provider to identify the root cause: Once you've notified the service provider, work with them to identify the root cause of the issue. This may involve troubleshooting the issue together, or the service provider may need to conduct their own investigation.
- Determine the impact of the SLA breach: Depending on the severity of the SLA breach, you may need to determine the impact on your business. This could include calculating any financial losses, reputational damage, or other negative consequences.
- Negotiate a resolution: Once you've identified the root cause and determined the impact of the SLA breach, work with the service provider to negotiate a resolution. This may involve extending the SLA period, providing compensation or refunds, or implementing measures to prevent future SLA breaches.
- Monitor the situation: After a resolution has been reached, it's important to continue monitoring the situation to ensure that the SLA is being met going forward. This may involve ongoing monitoring and reporting of SLA metrics, as well as periodic reviews of the service provider's performance.
In some cases, it may be necessary to escalate the issue to a higher level within the service provider's organization or seek legal recourse if the SLA breach has significant financial or legal implications. However, in most cases, working collaboratively with the service provider to address the issue is the most effective way to resolve SLA breaches and maintain a productive working relationship.
In conclusion, when it comes to SLA monitoring and reporting, it's important to remember that knowledge is power. By tracking key performance indicators and generating regular reports, you can gain valuable insights into the performance of your service provider and ensure that you're getting what you paid for.
Plus, who doesn't love a good report? With colorful charts and graphs, you can turn even the most mundane data into a work of art. So, embrace the power of SLA monitoring and reporting, and let your metrics be your guide to a happier, more productive relationship with your service provider!
Once you have Obkio's Network Monitoring tool set up, Obkio’s Monitoring Agents will continuously monitor network and application performance and collect the data you need most.
If you’re a user, you can finally understand if your service provider is respecting the SLA, and if not, you have the proof and data to keep them accountable.
If you’re a service provider, you can quickly find out if a user’s SLA is not being met, and take the necessary actions to fix the issue.
Get started with Obkio's Free Trial!