Crafting a Proper Backup & Recovery Service Level Agreement
Anyone who works as an end-user is continually confronted with crafting SLAs for various infrastructure components. Aggravating the situation, once SLAs are signed-off on, it is nearly impossible to make changes without completely rocking the boat so it is extremely important to get it right from day one.
First, you need to determine the scope of the backup and recovery SLA both in terms of what it will cover, and maybe more importantly, what will it not cover. It is crucial that as SLA objectives are crafted that they are clear and to the point to cover both yourself and your customers. To do this, you should have as many face-to-face meetings with your customers about the SLAs to ensure everyone understands the terms of the SLA and that they are in complete agreement about them. and total understanding.
Crafting the SLA objectives for your internal backup and recovery environment will need to cover any component of the infrastructure that may impact the successful backup or restoration of critical business data. These areas may include:
- Backup Libraries (Disk-Based or Tape Based)
- Offsite/Internal Media Storage Locations (How fast can you retrieve those tapes?)
- Backup Servers (Masters or Media Servers)
- Backup Reporting Servers
- Client Backup Software (SAN Connected)
- Backup Client Priorities (Business Critical Nature of the Application Server)
- SAN Network (Fibre Channel, iSCSI)
- Ethernet Network (Connections to Clients and Backup Servers)
- Backup Operators
- Data Center Environmentals
Once you have determined the appropriate infrastructure that should and should not be included in the SLA, then you need to determine the metrics that you will report back to your customer, to ensure you are delivering on all of the agreements defined in the SLA. The metrics are really determined by how much of the infrastructure and people either you or other IT teams are responsible for.
I encourage you, especially if you work in a large IT organization, to develop OLAs (Operational Level Agreements) with sister groups that you need to support as part of the overall backup and recovery environment (Windows & Unix Teams, Operations & Implementation Teams, Application & Database Teams, Facilities Team, and Outside Vendors were applicable).
Only when your infrastructure components, metrics, and OLAs are in place should you begin to put the whole SLA together. Depending on your customers' requirements, the SLA can vary greatly from nauseatingly detailed to simple and to the point.
One very effective way to accomplish this SLA engagement is by using software to track, monitor, and control every aspect of the backup and recovery infrastructure and process. One example of a product that does this is Asigra Televaulting. Taking advantage of Asigra's Televaulting backup and recovery software will give you and your organization the ability to define all of the various levels of the SLA and OLA processes and directly implement them in your backup and recovery environment. Asigra's software ensures that not only is the backup environment properly classified, but also that you the have the ability to customize the reporting and notification parameters around your SLA directly into the software. This greatly enhances your ability to meet and, in some cases, exceed your SLAs.
Anytime you can take the human factor out of a process including SLAs, and automate it via software, you have just placed yourself and your company in a much better place to be successful.
For those of you just establishing an SLA process for the first time, there are many sites to help you in this endeavor.. These include: