We all know the acronym SLA (Service Level Agreement) and we have all used it quite generically I suspect. So let’s get more specific and take a look at SLA and SLO (Service Level Objective) and define, compare and contrast the two.
Whether you are a vendor or a customer, you have probably said something like, “…in order to meet SLA’s…” and went no further, thought nothing more about it. I know I have done this many, many times. I have found through my many years on this rock, that I can provide better value-add to our customers by drilling a bit deeper into this. I hope that you can increase your value-add to your business stake holders by doing the same. So let’s attack the SLA first.
A Service Level Agreement is an agreement; a document that is produced for all parties that defines several things including, but not necessarily limited to:
This definition is pretty straightforward at a high level. But when you begin peeling that onion called your SLA, you should understand what Service Level Objectives are defined deep inside this document.
A Service Level Objective is a key element within your SLA and is a means of measuring the performance of the service provider (which may or may not be you.) You could even consider an SLO as a Quality of Service (QoS) metric. In a paper published by Rick Sturm and Wayne Morris (“Foundations of Service Level Management”, April 2000), an SLO should be (my comments are in orange):
So, we understand that an SLO is a critical component in any SLA. Let’s talk about some common SLOs as they pertain to backup/recovery.
While there may be many in any given backup/recovery SLA, there are four SLOs that consistently bubble to the top. Most vendors focus on only two of these, Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO). I would like to add Version Retention Objective (VRO) and Geographic Redundancy Objective (GRO) to round out the top four.
Defining these four goes something like this:
As you look at these, you may be thinking…”Gosh, all our business units have different requirements for each of these SLOs.” That may be true. And what does that mean to you? Well, either you create different SLAs to meet the different needs across the business…or change to a more global backup/recovery policy. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately it isn't always that way. In either case you will need buy-in from management and the business stakeholders, as well as products that can be flexible enough to handle YOUR requirements.
Now the great news! When you are developing your SLAs and associated SLOs, or looking for alternatives to your legacy backup, Quest has an outstanding portfolio of products to help you meet your specific SLOs. Our suite of products provides RTOs as small as minutes (think in terms of the time it takes to power up a virtual machine) and RPOs down to 5 minutes for your mission-critical needs. When you leverage the retention policies built into our portfolio, rest assured you can protect data “forever”, meeting all your VROs. Finally, you can leverage our replication technologies to protect your data on-premise, at your disaster recovery site, or to the cloud, thus ensuring you meet the most stringent GROs.
My father used to tell me that you should never let a day go by without learning something new. Here’s hoping that if you abide by the same wisdom, this blog proved valuable to you. Please reach out to us if you would like to discuss our suite of Backup & Recovery products and how we can help you meet your specific SLAs….er.…I mean SLOs.