IT for Business Driven Outcomes
Service Level Agreements in the Adaptable Data Center®
The CMI Adaptable Data Center® Framework is designed to help I.T. Executives successfully deal with today’s challenges in a way that sets the stage for solving tomorrow’s challenges. It helps I.T. Executives move into the role of “Brokers of Capabilities” in which they can leverage their base platform (of people, process and technology) to meet business needs quickly and effectively through Service Delivery in an “as a Service” model.
There, I have accomplished my first goal for this blog: using “Brokers of Capabilities” and “as a Service” in the first two sentences. Now I move on to my second goal: help our clients use their Information Technology assets (people, process and technology) to manage toward business-driven outcomes. The CMI Adaptable Data Center® Framework is fundamentally based upon an enterprise platform that will fuse together legacy I.T. assets with future I.T. assets in a manner that can securely and seamlessly leverage cloud-based services. This approach will enable I.T. Executives to make decisions on capacity expansion, application lifecycle management, and introduction of new technologies in a way that will greatly reduce risk of obsolescence. The platform provides the agility and scalability that can be the foundation for nearly any new business challenge.
Equally importantly, the Adaptable Data Center® Framework is designed to protect the I.T. Executive from unplanned issues with end user experience in the delivery of the services – both new and existing services. I.T. Executives have grown up with Service Level Agreements (SLA). SLA’s, for the most part, are used to set the end-user’s expectations for their experiences in the delivery of services from the Data Centers to their eyes and fingertips. While that is a difficult and complicated task for I.T. Executives, with many points of failure or delay outside of their control, their job has been to control what they can control and clearly define what is outside their control (and pray that what is outside their control does not fail). In today’s world the balance of “what they can control” vs. “what they cannot control” has shifted significantly. The use of various Cloud Services, Outside Providers and other Third Parties have made ownership of the traditional SLA enormously challenging.
We believe it is time to rethink the “traditional SLA” and expand it to the actual perception of the business stakeholders. I.T. Executives can point to 99.999% uptime last month but if their stakeholders do not have the applications that they need, or they do not have the computing power they need, or they are constantly finding limitations on data storage imposed on them, they will put the great availability metric at the bottom of their evaluation list. If the C-Suite is frustrated by the amount of time it takes for I.T. to integrate a recent acquisition, they will not care at all about the fantastic uptime of SAP (or any other system). If the Marketing V.P. is under tremendous pressure to match digital campaigns with sales but there is no integration between their Cloud Based Digital platform and the legacy e-commerce system … well you get the picture by now … “meeting traditional SLA’s will not matter.”
Unfortunately for the I.T. Executive the new world order does not mean that “traditional SLAs” are not important. For anyone who put all their attention on solving the other business challenges described above and as a result had two significant outages of the ERP system in the past month, those unlucky souls now know that the “New SLA” is not entirely new as the “Traditional SLA” is still vitally important. The New set of Service Level Agreements are much broader than Service Availability and include all of the business challenges outlined above and many more. The practical use of SLAs has always been to set expectations and manage expectations of stakeholders in the delivery of services. That practical use has not changed at all, but the number of dimensions that impact SLAs in today’s Enterprise I.T. has increased substantially. Today’s reality in Enterprise I.T. is that meeting expectations of your end users in terms of availability, reliability, resiliency, redundancy and agility would be impossible without a sound foundational approach to harmonizing all of the different service delivery mechanisms. The Adaptable Data Center® Framework is focused on providing that platform that can integrate the service delivery capabilities of Cloud, On-Premise and other Third Party providers. In addition to simply pulling the various service delivery sources together, the framework enables SLA visibility in the heterogeneous “as a Service” model by including application and data integration, application performance monitoring and management, and delivery cost visibility and predictability.
While the challenge of meeting the “new SLA” requirements in today’s Enterprise I.T. is daunting, I.T. Executives must find a way to build a platform that will allow them to become “Brokers of Capabilities.” This approach will help them build a full “as a Service” delivery ability that they can utilize to finally truly manage toward business outcomes. When it comes to managing expectations of stakeholders (the role that SLAs play), there is no better way to accomplish that then managing toward business-driven outcomes.
Chief Technology Officer