The Myth and Reality of your Telecom SLA

You need a rock solid Service Level Agreement’s (SLA) as part of your agreement with your telecom provider. Your SLA should outline network jitter, latency, support response guarantee’s, and if applicable, Quality of Service. The objective of this article is not to dispel the fact you need well-written and comprehensive SLA’s to protect you from poorly constructed networks or from shaky telecommunication companies, but that you need a well-constructed and redundant network to compliment your SLA.

As an IT Director, or CIO, when answering to the CEO of your company about an 8 hour outage, and a half a million dollars of operating losses due to the down service (in addition to company loss of reputation and goodwill), he or she won’t be interested in the miniscule credit you are receiving. Nor will the CEO be interested in what the terms of the SLA depict.

Let’s say a circuit costs $3,000 per month. Of course that means $36,000 per year. On one of the largest networks in the world (a name recognized by everyone), who provides service in almost every country, an outage over 6 hours gets you 7/30 of a monthly credit, or about $700.

A monetary refund is all well and good, except that it won’t be enough to cover lost revenue, and the credibility that you may have lost with your clients.

In order to become a ‘Fastblue Certified’ client, you must have a redundant path to each service we provide. For example, on a MPLS meshed network, we would provide a VPN over the public Internet to backup your main service. If it is an Internet connection, then a secondary Internet connection would make sense, which for small offices can even include things like Verizon/ATT 3G wireless cards. The availability of fiber and inexpensive cable providers has granted our clients the ability to seamlessly backup networks with a low investment.

For voice networks, a ‘must have’ is automatic voice routing. This is accomplished at the provider level, and in the case of a failure (circuit down, phone system down) it will automatically reroute your calls to another site or backup lines (or to voice services in the Cloud). It’s the difference between looking like your company is out of business for the day, and your clients not even knowing you experienced an outage.

To summarize, your SLA’s most important job is to allow you contract flexibility to terminate a service that doesn’t work for your business in terms of reliability or performance. It is critical business needs are met by providing good network design and redundancy in addition to your main network service. Good network design involves building a network that has at least two redundant paths for each critical service.

Eric Swanstrom

Eric Swanstrom is a Sales and Account Manager at Fastblue Communications. Fastblue is a Premier Managed Cloud, Telecom, and Internet Security Provider.

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