SLOs, which are focused around DevOps, are fundamentally different from SLAs, in that they measure an optimal point where poor SLA levels are avoided, but so are expensive standards which also deter innovation.
Today, Waltham MA-based Nobl9 has launched their first channel program around their Service Level Objective [SLO] platform. SLO is a concept designed for the DevOps realm, much like Kubernetes and containers, and while it is based on tracking service reliability, like Service Level Agreements [SLAs], it is fundamentally different in what it measures, and the purpose for which it is used. Nobl9 also believes that SLOs will displace SLA as the standard of efficiency that customers want to stay above.
“SLAs are the line you don’t want to cross, the point of failure where financial penalties are triggered and customers can get out of contracts,” said Michael Lauricella, Nobl9’s director of partnerships. “SLOs, on the other hand, are objectives, around which a complete team comes together, including executives and product managers. We enable codifying, and tuning the metrics into service level indicators, but the SLO line is different. If you cross this line, customers go from being very happy to experiencing a little pain.”
Lauricella said that the ideal medium for most organizations is to be just above that SLO line.
“We don’t want companies to have to be perfect, but we want them to define the level of imperfection they are comfortable with, on the spectrum of reliability,” he said. “On the far right of that spectrum is gold-plated infrastructure. But it is very expensive and makes it hard to deploy things that are new. The far left of the spectrum is an SLA not being met, with customer churn resulting. The ideal is in the middle, with both delighted customers and a productive team.”
Nobl9 was founded 2019, and started selling product about the time Lauricella joined the company in March 2021.
“There has been a huge amount of initial interest,” he said. “Customers wire us into the different monitoring tools they use today. They don’t have to change those. We work with about 12 different monitoring platforms – between 85 and 90% of the market. We compute the SLOs and give constant a constant heartbeat of service levels.”
The target market for this isn’t really defined by the pure size of a company, but rather at companies of any size for whom cloud services are critical, and who have a complex mix of microservices.
“The criticality of their cloud services is key,” Lauricella said. “They need to bring in some visibility around reliability there. It’s not just around customer-facing services either. They can be targeted at internal teams that need them to get the job done.”
The types of resellers who are showing interest typically have a background in DevOps consulting.
“We are seeing companies who have been working with larger organizations doing more DevOps consulting, and taking tools from vendors like ServiceNow, and GitHub, and optimizing them,” Lauricella indicated. “That was job one. Now that they have figured out how to build great software, they want it to run in a reliable way so it doesn’t break systems when they deploy it.”
Out of the gate Nobl9 is announcing eight partners, including Accenture, their first global systems integrator partner. The resellers include Isos Technology, Atlassian’s 2020 ITSM Partner of the Year.
Accenture’s interest came from large customers asking them to build what Nobl9 has already build.
“We got in Accenture by engaging with accounts they were working with,” Lauricella said. “They don’t have the desire to build the same kind of platform, but want to be able to run a more reliable cloud. They understand that everything cannot be 5 9s. They want to know how do they make the tradeoffs, and what are the consequences of those. And they need a consultant and a services company to help them navigate that.”
Nobl9’s partner program is designed to ramp up partner skills around SLO.
“We are focused on helping partners become SLO experts, and train them on best practices around SLOs,” Lauricella said. “We offer an SLO bootcamp, and we crushed our goal with that. The demand has exceeded all of my expectations. After that, we anoint them as SLO certified, although it’s not a strong certification program just yet, although there is demand for that. Going forward in time, we will come out with different levels of certification around training.”
Starting a new partner ecosystem and program from scratch, Lauricella said his goal is to try and prevent the 80-20 rule from kicking in.
“I’d like to avoid the 80% that don’t produce,” he stated. “This should appeal to anyone that has proven they can do DevOps, and they will have a base of customers to whom they can take this product.”