- Experience-level agreements offering guarantees beyond connectivity are an aspirational concept.
- But competitive market drivers are pushing service providers in this direction, which is encouraging.
One of the 2012 IT market predictions I discussed during the Current Analysis webinar in December related to so-called experience-level agreements. As I noted during the session, predictions sometimes are not really predictions at all, rather, they are expectations or hopes. The development of experience-level agreements certainly falls in the latter category, for the desire of service providers to gain differentiation by changing the game in relation to their commitment to customers is truly aspirational at this point.
What are experience-level agreements? The true definition has yet to emerge, but I am referring—in the IT service context—to the ability to guarantee a level of service that goes beyond the stability and performance of the connection, and beyond even the performance at the end-point, to also include the application experience of the end-user. Further, the experience level should be guaranteed regardless of the user’s mode of connectivity—wireless or wireline.
This type of guarantee is, frankly, far-fetched without visibility and control of the IT end-point. While certain service providers, such as BT and others, are working to establish desktop management as part of their service portfolios, and most network-based IT service providers are furiously racing to build robust enterprise mobility services, the capability to offer an experience-level guarantee is still very much a future prospect.
But this is where the market is going, and you should be pushing your service providers in this direction. One of the truths about cloud services is that they will be made up of an ecosystem, perhaps affording service providers a more end-to-end perspective. And service providers are heavily incentivized to further differentiate themselves from one another, and from over-the-top providers that do not have the precious network asset at their disposal.
As aspirations go, the experience-level agreement, or service-level objective (SLO), is good one—perhaps not realistic in 2012, but hopefully in the not too distant future.