Building and maintaining first class e-business applications demands a systematic commitment to delivering levels of quality that can be measured and managed. Companies must address many inter-related issues, including:
- What level of performance do our customers really expect?
- How can we match, even stay ahead of, the competition?
- How will we prepare for our next big sales event (or season)?
- How will we measure site and application responsiveness?
- How will we know when our customers experience a drop in service levels?
- How do we diagnose and fix problems quickly?
- How will we monitor, quantify, and report on our success?
The management and technical activities required to tackle these issues are collectively called Service Level Management, or SLM for short. To implement SLM successfully, many people with diverse skills and responsibilities must contribute, because SLM touches every aspect of the application lifecycle -- site design, database design, application programming and testing, systems management, and networking.
This is a broad topic, every aspect of which I will probably be writing about here at one time or another. Having worked for years in the world of software and application performance, I tend to use the terms Service Level Management and Performance Management interchangeably. But these days, people without that background are more likely to interpret the word "performance" as a reference to Business Performance, or BPM for short. So unless the meaning is clear from the context, I will try to remember to use the SLM terminology.
If you would like to read a book about SLM for the Web, I recommend Practical Service Level Management: Delivering High-Quality Web-Based Services by John McConnell and Eric Siegel. As a friend and former colleague of Eric's, I am a little biased. But I think the Amazon reader reviews speak for themselves.