Thursday, 15 May 2008

Service Level Agreements for SMS Services, pointless?

I attended a presentation about the need for SLAs in the SMS industry by Michael Kowalzik, CEO of Tyn-Tec, at Global Messaging 2008 last week.

I wasn't going to go as I had seen him speak on the same subject last year, but it was on a track I was interested in. Thankfully he spent less time this year trying to promote Tyn-Tec's services and more on what they were and why they were needed.

The 2 main areas for SMS services that differ from standard IT services are

  • Message Throughput
  • Time to first delivery attempt

Message throughput is fairly easy to measure and report on but time to first delivery attempt is trickier for many of us providers as it relies on the network operators passing the information back.

Tyn-Tec make a great play of running their own SMSC infrastructure, hosted on Manx Telecom's network in the Isle of Man. They have complete control and thus can get the interim delivery receipts required out of their own SMSC.

We don't run our own SMSC but connect into network operators around the world to perform the delivery on our behalf. One of my periodic bang my head against the desk tasks has been to try and get our suppliers to give us the information so we can measure their performance, report that to customers and offer SLAs on the whole delivery process not just until the message leaves our system.

That finally looks like it's bearing fruit, the operators are realising that businesses are using SMS to drive business processes and that SLAs are a minimum requirement.

Great you'd think. Possibly.

I can't help thinking that operators implementing SMS Home Routing (see  SMS Home Routing, should we as an industry be worried?) is going to invalidate the SLA in the eyes of the customer.

Giving an SLA on first attempt is all very well but the customer expects that attempt to be to the handset rather than an interim system on the destination network. The value of the SLA is immediately watered-down when you have to introduce backside covering caveats about the SLA not representing handset delivery to certain destinations.

I concluded in my previous post that SMS Home Routing was an inevitability that we has an industry had to adapt to. I wonder if its corruption of SLAs will end up representing an opportunity lost.

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