What is downtime and importance of third party SLAs?

SLAs (Service Level Agreement) are the most important and critical component of any vendor contract. This component describes all the service level expectations (services and quality) from the vendor. It also clearly defines the penalties or the alternate solution if the requirements are not met.

The SLA document lays down the metrics, describing the parameters (which are actually different points of measurement) and their values. The tracking and monitoring is performed based on these parameters. The value for each SLA parameter is agreed upon between the vendor and their clients. If there is any deviation from the agreed upon SLA, the penalty rules are executed (which is also agreed upon between both the parties). SLAs are there to protect all the parties involved in the agreement. So all the significant contracts should have relevant SLAs reviewed by the legal experts.

Most of the third party service providers have their own standard SLAs. Sometimes, the terms in the SLA are negotiated and finalized based on the requirement of the client. There are mainly two main components in an SLA, one is service component and the other one is management component. The service element consists of specific services, conditions, standards, time window, escalation procedure etc. The management element consists of standards, reporting process, resolution process, indemnification clauses etc.

For any web application or portal (be it e-commerce, social networking, cloud service etc), outage is a major concern. Web application outage has cascading effect on its associated partners, connected websites and the overall business.

Recent Facebook outage is an eye opener and it carries a significant message, which is the need of third party SLA. There may be multiple reasons for the outage, but proper SLA should be there to protect the interest of all the parties. The Facebook outage had a significant impact on its partners like Instagram and Vimeo. And it also had impact on the integration side.

There are more examples of service outages like Amazon, Dropbox in 2013. And it also had major impact on their business and revenue.

In most of the outage cases companies recovered their services within some time frame. But it is important to understand the importance of SLAs and their proper monitoring to protect the interest of the business. SLA will protect your business and monitoring will help you to keep a close watch on the third party services.

So both SLA and continuous performance monitoring is critical for the success of the websites/portals. Different software testing tools provide excellent performance monitoring service to measure website performance. So these tools and services are highly recommended to measure performance and validate SLAs.

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