WAN SLAs or Application Performance SLAs?

What is SLA?

Definition: Most carrier network service providers offer some kind of guarantee in regards to the performance and uptime of the network. This is commonly known as the SLA, or Service Level Agreement. The SLA is a written guarantee of performance of the network and is typically generic in nature as it covers the core of the network, providing for 100% availability.

Most customers don’t see much value in SLAs — and understandably so. They tend to be difficult to enforce and even more problematic when trying to get any meaningful credits.

In most cases, SLAs cover the core of the network. But what about the loop? What about applications that are latency sensitive, or if you actually want the throughput you’re paying for?

Most networks are built on a “best effort” basis and the carriers do what they can to avoid congestion. But in a shared environment, they can’t guarantee things they have no control over.

Increasingly, we’re seeing an inherent need for the telecommunications industry to provide application performance SLAs rather than WAN SLAs. At Wired Networks, we’ve seen our clients appreciate and pay for the peace of mind granted by user experience guarantees (application performance SLA) as opposed to network performance guarantees.

This approach does require the solution provider to take a well thought‑out extra step by treating bandwidth as less of a commodity and more of an actual solution to the customer’s application requirements. It also requires a deeper level of understanding regarding the customer’s LAN/WAN in order to make sure it will support these applications.

This is the point at which we tend to lose some people in the conversation, as it’s a widely believed myth that all services and bandwidth types are created equal. In our experience, not only are all bandwidth types NOT created equal, but all carriers aren’t equal either.

When you deal with individual carriers day in and day out for years as we do, and when you remain immersed in customer issues related to inappropriate bandwidth solutions, this reality becomes all-too-evident.

The reason why switched ethernet doesn’t necessarily guarantee improved latency, throughput, and jitter is because in a shared environment the service provider has little to no control over these criteria.

As it stands today, most bandwidth solutions fall short of guaranteeing user experience because they don’t provide application performance guarantees as a policy. However, as the services that traverse client networks continue to be increasingly complex, the need for a more meaningful guarantee that an application will work as advertised continues to grow. We think this method is a heck of a lot better than simply throwing bandwidth at a customer environment and hoping for the best.

There’s no question that more expertise requirements for integrators and solution providers is needed to marry the LAN and WAN, making them play well together with the countless cloud applications that need to be supported.

As the industry continues to evolve, Wired Networks will continue to push for more meaningful service level agreements and guarantees on behalf of our clients. Our end game is to continue to build client confidence and peace of mind by ensuring that the solutions you pay for will work as advertised and support your business today, tomorrow, and well into the future.

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