Quest for service-level agreements in an SOA world

After the service-enablement message has been spread as far as it will go, what will become of service-level agreements? For example, how does an SLA adequately encompass an app or service with multiple internal and external touch-points? Will service-enablement force IT to develop more granular, concise or responsive SLAs?

There are many more questions than answers, says Vince Re, chief architect with Computer Associates. He stresses orgs should see service enablement, and the next generation of SLAs, as a chance to improve the responsiveness and dynamism of their IT departments.

"Today, most IT organizations are kind of reactive," Re says. "They run whatever configuration they think is best, and they monitor and report on whether they met their SLAs or not. So it's a real paradigm shift to doing that in a proactive way rather than a reactive way, knowing what the components are, knowing what the pieces are and then dynamically mapping different resources into it. If you don't meet your SLAs in that case, it's not that you have something misconfigured, it's that it's probably time to expand your infrastructure."

In the meantime, some of today's most vexing SLA bugaboos--such as buck-passing between providers, as in the case of SLAs with multiple organizational touch-points, and rampant petty fiefdoms, with each organizational unit struggling to maintain its autonomy--could possibly be exacerbated in the SOA environments of the future, the experts say.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a contributing editor. He can be reached at [email protected].