• United States

SLA deployment declines, survey finds

Jan 11, 20064 mins
Data Center

* Findings of EMA's service-level management adoption survey

For each of the past three years, EMA has surveyed enterprises to understand changes in service-level management adoption. Our approach again this past year was to mirror the questions from the prior year so that we could show continuity in our analysis of SLM adoption. In an effort to keep you informed of the changing market dynamics, highlights of the results are summarized in the paragraphs below. The research report itself will be published during the month of February and available at EMA’s Web site.

We begin the survey inquiring about how many of the participating companies have deployed service-level agreements (SLA). Here, we found interesting results in that during 2003, 56% of the 25 respondents who took part indicated that they had implemented SLAs. This number grew to 83% of the 48 respondents in 2004 and in 2005 dropped below the percentage for the 2003 and 2004 surveys to 48% of the 46 executives polled in 2005. This is an interesting data point as IT service management is clearly growing in the market. EMA has seen an increase in process-orientation and service management. What would explain a decrease in actual SLAs? Perhaps one reason might be that the number of organizations shifting gears to focus on change management, ITIL, and the configuration management database (CMDB).

The decline in SLAs conflicts with the overall importance of SLM to business and executive management teams as queried in this research. The survey asked participants to indicate the importance of SLM to these management groups and the result was that 33% felt SLM is critical to business management and another 61% responded that SLM is important. Combining the two data points shows that an overwhelming majority of management teams in the enterprise have in interest in pursuing SLM.

We have discussed many times, in many articles, the criticality of the right champion for driving SLM success within the corporation. The majority in the 2005 survey remains within IT. CIOs and IT directors were responsible for championing SLM initiatives in 53% of the respondent organizations. Looking back to 2004, this number was 61% and in 2003, it was even higher at 71% of SLM programs being championed by a CIO or IT director. The trend here is downward for IT management and upward for business management – this reflects a data point that is very much in line with the growing interest in business service management (BSM) or for some, business-focused, SLM.

Process is important to IT departments – it was in 2005 and will continue to be important in 2006. EMA has been tracking the use of various process models over time. In this questionnaire, EMA asked, “To what extent are IT processes documented and followed” as well as whether or not those processes are developed using an industry-recognized methodology. The response to the former question is that nearly 50% indicated that processes are “mostly” documented and followed and another 30% “somewhat” follow such processes – a reasonably large percentage (26%) are following an industry-recognized best practice approach. EMA did ask about ITIL as well and the percentage of companies using ITIL remained high at 61%-albeit somewhat of a decline from the 2004 response rate.

EMA’s assessment based on this and other research is that there remains strong and growing interest in the SLM market space. We have seen growth in this survey at the executive level and also a really strong indication of process implementation. What is not so clear at this juncture is why some of the indicators have actually decreased. EMA’s broad view is that SLAs are very specific to a given service. If organizations are busy dealing with cultural issues, process, and executive management support as indicated by the data, then perhaps some of the attention to specific SLAs has been redirected temporarily and will return as these areas are more in control. Further analysis of this will be included in the final results.

On a final note of interest to IT professionals interested in evaluating SLM solutions, EMA is getting ready to launch its fourth edition of the SLM Buyer’s Guide. This year, the guide will be available to vendors, service providers, and IT users online including a new look and search engine for those working to identify the right SLM solution. The guide is called SLM Solutions: A Buyer’s Guide.