In a world where connectivity and the need to be ‘always on’ has never been more important, the reliability and availability of our communications is a critical factor for most organisations and industry sectors. The most meaningful measure of this is the Service Level Agreement – or SLA – which most enterprise communications providers state as a percentage for the guaranteed uptime of their service.
“Five nines” refers to 99.999% availability, which equates to just over 26 seconds of downtime a month for that cloud application or service. This is the gold standard for uptime SLAs and is RingCentral’s SLA carrier-grade infrastructure and service. Effectively, that means being online virtually all the time.
You might not think that there is a lot of difference between a 99.999% and a 99.9% SLA. However, a “three nines” SLA means an expected downtime of more than 43 minutes a month – or more than 10 minutes a week. That’s a world of difference that can make or break the relationship or trust you have with a customer, cost thousands in productivity losses or missed opportunities, or create frustration and disengagement from your staff.
Service Level Agreements guarantee the availability of cloud applications. Lower guarantees can lead to more downtime.
The difference between the reliability and availability of a 99.9% SLA to a 99.999% SLA unified communications solution can have significant consequences, especially in certain industries. For example:
In healthcare, the connectivity between the patient and the healthcare provider is critical to successful outcomes, such as AccessEAP ensuring the continuity of its ongoing operations and support for its customers and their employees during times of crisis.
In education, connectivity for school and university students to their teachers, their lessons and their classmates has a direct impact on learning efficacy. The ability for educational organisations to compete and engage with a global student body has never been more important, such as the example of UTS Insearch being able to pivot rapidly to an online world for teaching, learning and working.
For financial services organisations, the customer experience is everything as traditional businesses compete with disruptive fintechs – where secure, always on connectivity across multiple channels is a given, not a nice-to-have.
In retail, when consumers are unable to get through, 46% will not buy the intended product, 35% will switch to another retailer and 17% will write a negative review. Read more on these findings in our 2020 Retail CX + EX Report.
Questions you should ask your service provider about their SLAs
SLAs are just one of several key factors to consider in making the right choice for a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) or Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) provider. These providers’ SLAs will vary, with differing levels of commitment to uptime. The questions you should ask need to cover four specific areas – scalability, redundancy, quality of service (QoS) and security. Some of the questions you should ask include:
How is the service provider ensuring data centre redundancy?
How is the infrastructure ready to meet any unexpected events or surges your business might experience?
What is the provider’s disaster recovery and business continuity planning regime, and how often does it undertake testing and updating of the plans?
What security certifications does the provider have, and how can they help you to meet your regional and industry compliance requirements?
What happens to my UCaaS or CCaaS application if my internet goes down?
Reliability for a hybrid workplace
As hybrid working becomes the new normal, teams are now depending on cloud communications more than ever, users expect their communication tools will always be available and your customers expect to be able to connect with you at all times.
We’ve developed an eBook, “Understanding reliability”, to help you understand what a 99.999% uptime SLA really means, the questions you need to ask your service provider, and the four must-haves for your cloud communications solution to be truly reliable.
Originally published 06 Jul, 2021, updated 07 Jul, 2021