How do you backup 99.99% uptime?

One concern I have had with the telecoms industry while running Fluidata has been around Service Level Agreements (SLA). Business customers demand that services stay up and provide their business with connectivity so that they can get on with the job of growing their company. Internet or voice loss for an hour, let alone a day, can have a serious impact on their business as pretty much all communication or transactions now rely on IP transit.

What seems to happen in our industry is a slapdash approach to SLAs, where they are oversold and only when the worst happens does the client understand what they actually are and what protection it offers. Let’s be clear that an SLA is a statement of a promise and nothing more. Even if an SLA states it has a 21 hour (BT) fix on a fault there are still instances I am aware of that means this can significantly overrun. One fault I remember a few years ago revolved around a FTSE company loosing service because rats (BT’s explanation not mine!) had chewed through the cable. The only issue was that a major A-road had to be closed so that a 6 foot hole could be dug to reach the stricken cable. This took 3-days. So the client under the terms of the SLA could claim for downtime as it was longer than 21 hours but that inevitably is less than the actual cost to the business.

Therefore I can not stress enough the necessity for disaster planning and preparing for the worst. A good quote is that nobody cares as much about your business as you do. So while an SLA shows you the confidence the provider has in its service, you need to see how they arrive at that figure – because a blanket 100% uptime guarantee is obviously complete nonsense. It brings me neatly onto our range of PureFluid and Advance products which aggregate not only multiple lines together but different technologies and uniquely, multiple last mile carriers. This means that one line could be provided by BT and the others by Cable & Wireless or Telefonica. This dramatically decreases the chance of failure and helps towards increasing the uptime.

Prepare for the worst and if you are someone saying well mine hasn’t gone down in years then you are probably the sort of person who does without fire extinguishers, alarms and insurance. You are dicing not only with your job but the future of your company.

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