In todays high-pressure business environment, companies want to get new products and services to market quickly. A systems integrator—a specialist—is often called to install off-the-shelf technology and make it work with the existing IT infrastructure.
In the heat of the fray, sometimes the decision is made to move an application into production without a full understanding of how that application meets requirements for performance, reliability and availability. Performance implications might develop as a result of Web activity or factors that are not as apparent, such as cascading impacts upon back-end transactions systems, which may have been designed in years past.
How do successful players avoid the hidden costs of failed service-level assurance? High availability and performance must be considered before the systems integrators proposal is accepted. The key to success is to work with a partner that takes an architecture-driven approach to the development and deployment of mission-critical solutions. Those can include: business analysis (what are the goals for uptime, performance, security, etc.?); system analysis (which legacy systems and resources will be impacted critically?); system architecture (are there any single points of failure?); risk mitigation; implementation strategy/planning; and release/deployment planning (who will operate and support the solution, and how are they trained?).
Service-level assurance is all about going back to basic values. It requires a documented understanding of the relationship among business requirements, processes, features and system requirements. It also requires a documented capacity plan and attention to details like volume testing, large data sets and stress testing, as well as fail-over testing to isolate problems fully. With an architected approach and a basic alignment of business requirements to the integrators tasks, there are no surprises.
Scott Sleeper is the chief technology officer for Tanning Technology, a global systems integrator. He can be reached at email@example.com.