On The Topic Of SLAs

For Want Of SLAIt’s not so often than I get to poke fun at anyone (yeah, right), but in this day and age where it seems that the only way to get noticed is to have funny cartoons, I figured I would enlist the help of my super secret artisan resource, and poke some fun at our competition.

As I spend more and more time with our partner community discussing all things related to SaaS and PaaS, one topic comes up over and over again.  Having a proper Service Level Agreement (SLA) provided by any potential cloud provider is the most important item on the list of their required items.  The failures of the Amazon cloud (portal and web services) and Google properties (Apps, and App Engine) are well documented, and it has given pause to many of the potential developers in the IT Pro and ISV space.  Their main concern is what is going to happen if they deploy a service or application against that infrastructure?  Who’s neck do they get to choke?

Google App Engine has no mention of an SLA in their terms of service, and they know it.  The GMail guys have one, but like the Amazon S3 SLA (the only one of their web services to have an SLA), it’s 3 9s.  A good start, but not what the enterprise customers are going to need to instill confidence to move to the cloud.  The loss of control associated with moving to the cloud is a powerful disincentive for these developers, and without a higher degree of certainty over the uptime of the services consumed, moving mission critical, line of business applications and services to the cloud becomes a much harder discussion with the business decision makers.

The notable exception here is Joyent, who goes out on a limb to claim 100% uptime in their SLAThe big issue here, unfortunately, is that as a provider on top of the Amazon services, they are at the mercy of Amazon and their ability to keep their servers up.  The pecuniary consideration Joyent is willing to pay out is not really well within their control, which is unfortunate, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out over time.  However, I definitely give them credit for putting that SLA out there.  The problem with writing late at night is you get your companies mixed up.  Joyent does provide SLA, but they don’t run on Amazon.  Big thanks to Rod at Joyent for keeping me honest on this one.  Joyent is running their own datacenters and have made significant investments across their 4 DCs.  That said, they have had some downtime, which is not unexpected.  It would be very interesting to know the economic impact of their January outage, but something tells me that Rod won’t be so forthcoming with that correction for me. <g>

The company I was thinking about that had tied themselves to the Amazon ship is RightScale.  They have a FAQ tied to their pass through SLAs with Amazon.  The challenge I have with their solution is that if you have access issues, you are advised to log in and launch more instances.  This doesn’t help you if datacenters fall over, power goes down, large scale DDoS attacks, etc.  This only helps for domain / app specific scaling issues, and even then, it doesn’t always solve your problem.

There’s a lot of work to be done in the cloud space, especially if the many business ISVs out there are going to think about porting some or all of their offerings to a platform provider.  The feedback from partners is very clear, and the online conversation backs up this assertion – SLAs are the first stop to winning the hearts and minds of the business ISVs and IT Pro developers.

  • Joyent is NOT built on top of Amazon.

    Joyent runs its own data centers. We have our own hardware. We use Dell 2950s, Force 10 switches and f5 BigIP hardware load balancers.

    Please correct your article.

  • Thanks for fixing the post Brandon. Yes, one of our consumer level services (Bingo Disk) had some downtime in January. We did a lot to refund clients and make them whole.

    That said, for clients running mission critical business applications, we provide them with a much more robust (and more expensive) infrastructure – specifically Joyent Accelerators.

  • There’s a lot of work to be done in the cloud space

  • There’s a lot of work to be done in the cloud space yes

  • There’s a lot of work to be done in the cloud space, especially if the many business ISVs out there are going to think about porting some or all of their offerings to a platform provider

  • There’s a lot of work to be done in the cloud space

  • There’s a lot of work to be done in the cloud space yes

  • There’s a lot of work to be done in the cloud space, especially if the many business ISVs out there are going to think about porting some or all of their offerings to a platform provider

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