Last month as Thru sent out the annual Service Level Agreement (SLA) compliance letters for 2012, I was reminded of the great importance a reliable SLA plays in managed file transfer (MFT). The ability to establish and maintain an SLA is a major differentiator between enterprise solutions and consumer-focused technologies attempting to sell to businesses.
Why is providing and maintaining an SLA so vital to managed file transfer solutions? It’s simple. A good SLA lays out the expectations between the service provider and the customer and provides metrics to measure effectiveness. Essentially, a good SLA differentiates between those who say they can provide a reliable service and those who actually do. Anyone can promise to be reliable and guarantee uptime, but only those who truly believe they can fulfill it will put that in a written agreement with metrics and financial obligations in case of failure. Enterprises have a greater need to be sure that these expectations will be fulfilled and are not just empty promises, since each service failure could mean a great deal of financial loss.
Most consumer applications, such Facebook or Instagram, could go down for a few hours and everyone will be alright. Some will be emotionally traumatized, of course, but they will survive. Their employers may even find that productivity has increased. If an enterprise’s MFT service went down, however, intellectual property could be stolen, millions could be lost, and jobs could be in jeopardy.
Imagine, for example, a business person who has a deadline to delivery a very important document. He attempts to transfer it using the company’s approved MFT service but finds that the service is down. Rather than waiting for it to come back up, he will immediately go to his personal consumer dropbox solution, greatly jeopardizing security.
What makes this worse is the fact that in a large business this will not be just one person, but many. Suddenly, a portion of the enterprise’s most important and current data is unprotected and available to anyone else who knows how to access these unsecure applications. If the service has a reputation for being unreliable, many employees will abandon trying to use it altogether and relapse to their consumer solutions, even in violation of corporate policy.
All vendors would offer a formal SLA if they were capable of doing so, but most find it impossible because they cannot guarantee claims due to technical deficiencies. Thru has worked diligently over the years to ensure that all hardware and technology is the most reliable in the business rather than cutting costs at quality’s expense. This focus on infrastructure and reliability has enabled us to provide one of the best SLAs in the business, and more importantly, to keep it.