This blog post is the fifth and final in a series highlighting how to manage compliance risks for service level agreements for B2B integration.
How to Maintain SLA Conformity When Facing Capacity, Priority and Availability Risks
So far, we’ve covered a variety of threats to maintaining your service level agreement (SLA) compliance ranging from data accuracy to provisioning and risks to your conformity. If you missed our posts on how to address SLA risks you can view the series by clicking here. Otherwise, keep reading this final entry, where we’ll help you identify and address three additional threats: capacity, priority and availability.
Overall, it’s vital for your organization to have a compliance plan in place to account for potential challenges in the future. Insufficient planning for transaction volume growth, lack of process prioritization, and infrastructure services unavailability will negatively impact SLA compliance efforts. Consequently, transactions may exceed time allotments, while connectivity disruptions halt the flow of business. As a result, supply chain continuity is adversely affected and can lead to loss of business and value.
Scaling to Increase Capacity
As you know, software scalability can have a drastic impact on your long-term success. The overall workload capacity of integration middleware and how well it scales with demand affects the ability of a business to meet SLAs. Using a solution with static or flat-line capacity while trying to meet increasing demand can lengthen processing windows and degrade response times as excess capacity diminishes. When demand finally exceeds capacity, transactions are delayed, or even lost, likely damaging your trading partner relationships.
As your business grows, so does the demand for integration capacity. Scalable middleware systems offer the ability to add resources as demand increases. And as your team approaches the capacity limit of a processing node, you can purchase additional nodes online without disrupting your processes (see the figure below). This ability to handle rising demand increases the strategic value of the business to supply chain partners.
Navigating Through Priority Challenges
On a micro scale, SLAs are at risk when all work inputs receive identical priority and all workloads are assigned identical resources. High priority and high volume workloads can create a bottleneck effect, while low priority and low volume workloads complete sooner than necessary. To prevent this, work with your team to ensure resources and workload prioritization are aligned with business goals.
When you align workload priorities and system resources with business goals, you reduce risk of lost business, and ensure timely and predictable completion of high priority work. Prioritizing workloads based on business goals, trends, and document patterns facilitates SLA compliance. And as circumstances change, actively reprioritizing and allocating resources to trouble spots is key to ensuring your systems are doing their part to maintain SLA compliance.
Improving Your Service and Availability
An additional necessity of maintaining SLA compliance is to make certain your middleware services are highly available. Service outages disrupt the business’ ability to receive and send transactions – cutting off critical communications to and from trading partners. Additionally, queuing of new work becomes tricky as sequential transactions may be out of order, leading to ripples of business dysfunction.
You can mitigate downtimes by implementing redundant, resilient, and fault-adapting architectures. For instance, when node failures occur, services remain available. Fail-over nodes identify unprocessed transactions, then processing continues. Work is distributed to the remaining active nodes to ensure process continuity. Through a combination of redundancy, queue failover and fault-tolerant work nodes, the middleware system continuously accepts and responds to partner inputs, automatically restores queued work, and allows business to continue unabated and without disruption to downstream processes.
To sum it all up, you can help maintain SLA compliance through a variety of means. Scalable systems which are highly available promote business continuity, while middleware aligned with prioritizing integration workload look to meet business objectives. When these capabilities are combined, B2B middleware adds further business value by ensuring the smooth flow of information between trading partners and enterprise systems. The results for your business: healthier trading partner relationships and more business retained.
Hopefully this blog series has helped you understand the many risks to remaining SLA compliant and how you can approach and adapt to meet these challenges. If you would like a refresher or missed the beginning of the series, feel free to continue reading here. Otherwise, we would love to see your feedback and most valuable lessons learned in the comments section below.