Bridging the SLA Gap

Welcome to September 2012 issue of Creanord EchoNEWS, keeping you informed of developments at Creanord and in the fields of SLA assurance, automated Ethernet service delivery and OAM (Operations, Administration and Maintenance).

EchoVault is the leading Ethernet SLA management platform, helping Service Providers add value, differentiate their services and reduce cost. This article focuses on the gap between what network equipment providers and performance management systems provide and what Service Providers delivering Carrier Ethernet need. Let's take a look at how to bridge the SLA Gap.

From Network Element Measurements to Service Focused SLA

With Bridging the SLA gapcustomers getting ever more demanding, SLAs in Mobile Backhaul and Business Services tend to get more stringent. Not only do the customers require quality, but they are increasingly requiring reporting and up-to-the minute visibility into the status. SLAs are almost always based on monthly performance, detailing targets for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as loss and delay as well as response times. Pure performance management often falls short, because it focuses only on technical performance and KPIs rather than taking what has been agreed as a starting point.

The first step in fulfilling the requirements certainly is to have network elements with for example Y.1731 loss, delay and delay variation measurements. But that is only the starting point. Although you can often set thresholds for the KPIs and some equipment providers call the violations 'SLA violations' this does not really provide what the Service Provider needs. What does it actually mean if a threshold is violated and packet loss exceeds the set threshold, say 1% loss, for a one minute measurement period? Well, it can mean a there is a degradation that needs to be addressed. But is it an SLA breach? You just don't know. There's a gap.

So measured performance data is not enough and visualizing this with charting tools hardly improves the situation from the service focused SLA point of view. It just shows measured values and perhaps threshold crossings. You still don't know if those threshold crossings cause the monthly SLA to be breached and the gap is still there.

The service focused SLA begins by understanding what has been promised to the customers. Typically these are monthly targets such as frame delivery ratio of 99.999%, five nines. SLA Must be calculatedOther service level objectives may include for example bandwidth availability guarantees or requirements for analytics, such as percentiles or standard deviation, which require heavy computation when the number of data points is large. All of this means SLA cannot just be measured - it must be calculated against what has been promised in the service definition and the SLA agreement.

Creanord EchoVault lets you bridge the SLA Gap by providing a central repository for your SLAs, with the most advanced SLA life-cycle management capabilities such as template-driven SLA definitions and option to exclude out-of-SLA time. The data presented carries much more relevance as you can follow up the status of the service from the perspective of the service sold. This means that you get an up-to-date view of whether the monthly SLA has been breached for a circuit, or indeed which circuits are closest to breaching the target.

The SLA Checklist

From an SLA management perspective KPI and analytics performance in real time is needed. In addition to displaying packet loss, delay and delay variation targets against a monthly SLA target, standard deviation and percentiles are often required in order to provide a more balanced view as well as filtering outliers. And the system should take into account business hours and maintenance windows if needed. EchoVault lets you do all this and also publish customer-specific circuit status using the interactive and secure SLA Portal, fulfilling the requirement for customer visibility in real time. A typical Mobile Backhaul or Business Service SLA contract typically defines targets for at least a subset of the following:

  • Key Performance Indicators (frame loss, delay and delay variation)
  • Standard deviation and percentile for more balanced view of KPI
  • Reporting (monthly, on demand) with real-time portal access to SLA data
  • Excluding out-of-SLA time such as business hours and maintenance windows
  • MTTR, which means you need a system that can show performance against agreed service level
  • Exceptions or restrictions such as power grid issues being out of scope

The SLA management system needs to be able to manage and support all of the above. Below follows a checklist with details of the SLA Gap for each item.

Table1: The SLA Checklist. Creanord EchoVault provides a fully featured Carrier-Grade SLA delivery and management system.

It is easy to confuse Performance Monitoring with service focused SLA Management, because some of the input parameters include the same KPIs. However, the perspective is quite different - business targets vs technical performance data. The bottom line is you need to bridge the SLA Gap in order to win business and reduce churn.

New Carrier Ethernet 2.0 Video

Check out the new video on how Creanord EchoVault can help you excel with Carrier Ethernet 2.0 and get SLA interactive: SLA for CE 2.0 Mobile Backhaul.


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