david meredith

– David Meredith, senior vice president at CenturyLink,

Today’s IT leaders are busier than ever. They are responsible for keeping their company’s infrastructure and business applications up and running, all the while keeping up to date with the latest technology advances and IT security best practices.

As a result of so many competing mission-critical functions, more and more companies are looking to outsource much of their IT infrastructure and services. This not only frees up their in-house IT pros to proactively plan their infrastructure to meet business goals, but also takes advantage of a slew of external IT experts who live and breathe IT, 7/24/365.

Service-level agreements SLAs should be top of mind when outsourcing multiple IT services. Businesses require vendors to provide levels of assurance and peace of mind in the unfortunate event of an unexpected outage. However, managing several vendors’ SLAs can result in complexities. Who is responsible for what – and during what time frame – in the event of an outage?

Case in point: A global enterprise, where hundreds of thousands of transactions might occur every minute and users expect continuous network, may outsource for services such as colocation and an assortment of solutions from several cloud, managed hosting and network vendors.

If there is a hiccup in availability and an SLA is triggered, many companies have experienced finger-pointing among service providers. For example, a network outage may enable the organization to recoup money covered by a particular SLA; however, if the outage causes the rest of the enterprise’s IT infrastructure to go down, the resulting losses could amount to millions of dollars – lost revenue that may not be recovered under the network-specific SLA.

So, how does a company avoid finger-pointing and the potential for lost revenue in this situation? We think solution-based SLAs are the answer. Solutions-based SLAs cover an enterprise’s entire hybrid IT set of solutions, from cloud and colocation, to managed and network services. If one piece goes down, the company is covered across the board. With one SLA, you have a single point of contact to thank when things are going well and to work with if there’s an issue.

A vendor-agnostic, solution-based SLA, delivered by a single provider, is easier to manage and will have ironed out the many different IT infrastructure points (network, cloud, servers, etc.) to ensure there is no squabbling among multiple vendors if an outage occurs.

Solution-based SLAs follow an agreed-upon governance model and provide greater peace of mind that there will be easier follow-up and accountability with one provider in the event that downtime occurs.

Bottom line: Solution-based SLAs allows IT leaders – and their teams – to focus on managing their mission-critical IT infrastructure and business solutions to meet the goals of the business as a whole.

David Meredith is senior vice president at CenturyLink, where his responsibilities include the oversight of more than 50 data centers and related services across North America, Europe and Asia.