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Technical Insight: Infrastructure-as-a-Service Vendor Commitments (Part 3)

Published September 14th, 2021. Part 3 of "Evaluating Infrastructure-as-a-Service" series. This Technical Insight covers vendor commitments, specifically SLA vs. SLO. Download the free Technical Insight now!

This is Part Three of the “Evaluating Infratructure-as-a-Service” series. To view the rest of the documents in this series, click here.

Major infrastructure vendors including Dell, HPE and IBM are now in the process of transitioning some or all of their product portfolios to delivery options that include paying for on premises infrastructure as a pay-as-you go service. Both Dell and HPE have announced their intentions to make their entire infrastructure product lines available via subscription service – Dell APEX in the case of Dell and HPE GreenLake from HPE. Others have announced similar intentions: NetApp Keystone and Cisco Plus for example. (Full coverage of offerings is available in the Evaluator Group Research)

Acquiring infrastructure as a service requires a new set of acquisition criteria upon which to make buying decisions. Users need to keep in mind that they are acquiring services, not just more boxes destined for the data center floor. This means that vendors should be held accountable when the service being paid for is not being delivered as agreed between user and vendor. In a recent study on services delivery, Evaluator Group found that almost 90% of respondents felt that Service Level Agreement (SLA) inclusion in the services contract was either critical or very important. As one interviewee from a state government agency put it: “Contracts and SLAs are the grease that make relationships run.” How then to hold vendors accountable? Assure that service level commitments part of the contract.

Despite this critical requirement, we find considerable variation on what vendors are willing to agree to in the form of an SLA. In addition, users may find that they have to pay a premium in order to get some vendors to perform up to the service levels their on-premises data centers require. In lieu of SLAs, they will likely be offered Services Level Objectives (SLOs) where service levels are supported on a best-efforts basis with no recourse available to the user for failure to perform. Here we look in more detail at the difference between the two and offer guidance for service level decision making.

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