The State of Service Level Objectives 2022
August 25, 2022

Quan To

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Businesses need happy customers in order to survive, and infrastructure teams need to meet reliability goals efficiently. Large cloud-native companies pioneered the service level objective (SLO) method to create a scalable relationship between operational staff and software services while maintaining customer loyalty and cost controls.

A recent survey of more than 300 IT managers and executives conducted by Dimensional Research and sponsored by Nobl9 titled The State of Service Level Objectives highlights how enterprises are currently using SLOs with their current monitoring and observability tools, and how many are looking to expand their use to achieve even further reliability goals and efficiencies.

The evidence is clear. It's not a question of if enterprises will adopt SLOs, but rather how they will do it. As SLOs grow in popularity, more than 8 out of 10 companies are planning to increase their use. In fact, SLOs are being used to provide visibility into their use of new technologies.

For example, 87% stated using SLOs for microservices would increase their performance. While many would expect SLOs to be used purely for IT operations, the research also shows that increasingly business teams (executives, manufacturing, product teams, R&D, marketing, finance, etc.) are using SLOs.

Most companies have a wide array of observability and monitoring tools

They commonly provide visibility into IT operations, but that data now also provides information directly into the business needs for security, compliance, AI/ML, and other uses. However, even with the large number of monitoring and observability solutions deployed, less than half of the companies surveyed have visibility into all their IT environments, and hybrid-cloud use is compounding the issue. Given the swift adoption of containers and microservices, it was staggering to see just 45% and 35% have visibility into those systems respectively.

SLO adoption has grown

More than 8 out of 10 companies are increasing SLO use. Typically, SLOs are created around user journeys, but now there is an emerging trend of creating SLOs to provide visibility into and to measure new technologies. This trend is supported by the overwhelming 94% that intend to map SLOs directly to business operations, and a significant 91% that indicate SLOs are improving decision making.

SLOs aligned to business operations prevent business impact and disruptions

In fact, more than 6 out of 10 companies indicated that SLOs aligned to business operations have already prevented business impact and disruptions. Given the tremendous value of SLOs, it is of little surprise that 71% of companies not using SLOs today plan to adopt them. In a world where technology quite literally enables and facilitates most businesses, visibility is key, to know what is going on, optimize business operations and decision making, and provide early warning indicators to stave off potential business losses.

One of the biggest sectors in a business that's indicating how SLOs will shape their future is in the security industry. Security is supported by 71% of a company's observability and monitoring tools as reported from the rising pressures to put security as a focal point for the overall well-being of a business, external influences in cybersecurity attacks and reducing liabilities in performance and efficiency are possibilities that cannot be ignored. Over 71% of businesses are monitoring observability tools that support and integrate SLOs for this purpose to counteract these types of plausible scenarios.

Future of SLOs

The 71% of businesses that aren't using SLOs today but plan on adopting them in the future for optimizing business operations are already missing out on minimizing potential business losses through early warning indicators. The outcomes that companies can gain from the use of SLOs may not seem to have much of an impact in the short term, but the importance that SLOs bring to businesses across many industries is increasing.

Quan To is Sr. Director Product Management at Nobl9
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