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Active SLAs – New Approach for Multi-sourcing Governance

Last month, I attended the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) Outourcing World Summit in Phoenix, Arizona. I had the chance to glean fresh insights from industry-leading practitioners and get a global view from sourcing executives.

Though there has been an evolution in the outsourcing industry, one thing has not changed: outsourcing is a winning strategy. In the recent study from IAOP & Information Services Group (ISG) Annual State of the Industry 1 presented at the event, it stated that Multi-sourcing as an outsourcing approach increased by 75% from last year’s percentage”. The predictions for 2015 also show continued growth: “51 percent of respondents in the survey said they expect to pursue more outsourcing opportunities during the year”.2

Multi-sourcing - where a customer uses several service providers to provide a single scope of outsourced services, is now the new norm in outsourcing. In today’s organizations, outsourcing is increasing and each additional outsourcing agreement makes it more difficult to holistically manage IT service & support.

A new way of thinking about SLA’s is required to make multi-sourcing effective

Service-level agreement (SLA) management is the process of negotiating, defining and managing the levels of IT service. SLA management is a key challenge that organizations face as part of outsourcing and it is becoming increasingly difficult with multi-sourcing.

Most organizations invest heavily to define SLAs. If you talk to the service tower owners themselves, fewer than half have know what SLA’s are actually in the contract. They also cannot recall all of the specific details that the increasing numbers of the agreements contain. So, there is a lot of work that goes into developing these structures but there is no framework established on how to govern them in an automated way.

As a result, most SLA management is reactive. Periodic reviews between buyer and vendors are based on summary performance data from the prior period. Data from vendors is typically inconsistent and inaccurate. I was speaking with a sourcing executive at a large financial services company a couple of months ago, and she reported that half of the meeting time spent with vendors on performance was used just to agree on what an accurate view of the data was. This hardly aligns to the dynamic nature of business today.

New Paradigm on Thinking about SLA’s

Imagine the ability to manage SLA’s with each of your providers in real-time with one service integration framework. In a workshop we held in New York with a number of large buyers and providers late last year, they highlighted that this would not only move the service management model from reactive to proactive, but would also enable a more collaborative working model – moving away from the “us vs. them” paradigm. In one multi-sourced organization we’ve implemented this model in, it has completely eliminated after-hours escalation calls and dramatically reduced resolution times. With an active SLA capability you can manage all of the multi-sourcing relationships from one “pane of glass” and get accurate service information in real-time, such as:

  • Overview of all your open cases per provider
  • Cases trending towards SLA violation that you can proactively take action on
  • Actual violations that require immediate attention

To be effective, this solution would need to be very easy to consume, showing only what really matters up front. Front-line managers don’t have time to browse hundreds of tickets when only looking for one affecting the SLA. This all sound promising but is it possible to achieve?

Transforming multi-sourcing with active SLA’s

We are pleased to announce the availability of Active SLA Management in the 7.0 release of Cisco ServiceGrid. With a highly innovative user experiences via a centralized dashboard and reporting capability for the connected multi-sourced ecosystem, you will gain real-time visibility & drill-down functionality for events trending toward or violating SLAs to enable a more proactive, end-to-end vendor management capability.

If you would like to know more, feel free to browse:

 

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Sources:

  1. Annual State of the Industry Jagdish R. Dalal, IAOP
  2. Outsourcing 2015: Changing in a Good Way – Contributor: ISG Research, February 2015

 

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What Users Want

For most users, the network is as mysterious as what’s under the hood of their car.  When the engine starts to sputter, the average driver has no idea of whether there’s a problem with the carburetor or injection system.  They just want their car to work.

It’s the same with networks for many organizations.  Users don’t want to get bogged down in the details of network performance and efficiency.  What they care about is reliability, performance, and responsiveness at the level they work at: the application level.

This trend is leading to changes in how service providers guarantee service.  Today, Service Level Agreements (SLAs) offer assurance of network availability and reliability.  As more organizations move to cloud, these SLAs will evolve towards application-level guarantees.  Uptime will be defined not just in terms of network access but also how consistently applications are delivered.

The beginning of this trend can be seen through cloud providers like Vodafone.  In “Optimizing Your Network and Applications” Vodafone describes how it is leading the industry by offering its Cisco Powered iWANaaS with integrated Application Visibility and Control (AVC) technology. Read More »

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Cisco Domain Ten: Domain 10: Process and Governance – Part (b)

Operational process and governance, as I discussed last month, is “Domain 10″ in the Cisco Domain Ten(SM) model for data center transformation.  It’s so important in my opinion, and so often disregarded or de-prioritised when planning and executing data center transformation, that I’ll cover it twice!

Domain Ten: Process and Governance aka Operations Management

Domain Ten: Process and Governance aka Operations Management

Last time, I discussed some of the “Process and Governance” questions that may- indeed should – be on your mind when planning data center changes.   While you may think of Cisco Services as primarily an architecture and design specialist organization, I hope my Cisco Domain Ten blogs series has shown you we can help you with a lot more than infrastructure design.

In fact, recently, we revised our data center operations management services that we offer to help customers like you accelerate operational success with the new technologies and solutions that they are deploying.  We’ve consolidated the best of our service provider and enterprise operations management service offerings, including ITIL focus, together with our internal experience in running “Cisco on Cisco” – resulting in what we now call Cisco Data Center Services for Operations Enablement, illustrated below.

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