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Database Reliability Engineering by Laine Campbell, Charity Majors

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Chapter 2. Service-Level Management

One of the first steps required to successfully design, build, and deploy a service is to understand the expectations of that service. In this chapter, we define what service-level management is and discuss the components of it. We then discuss how to define the expectations of a service and how to monitor and report to ensure we are meeting those expectations. Throughout the chapter, we also build a robust set of service-level requirements to explain this process.

Why Do I Need Service-Level Objectives?

Services that we design and build must have a set of requirements about their runtime characteristics. This is often referred to as a Service-Level Agreement (SLA). An SLA is more than just an enumerated list of requirements, however. SLAs include remedies, impacts, and much more that is beyond the scope of this book. So, we will focus on the term Service-Level Objective (SLO). SLOs are commitments by the architects and operators that guide the design and operations of the system to meet those commitments.

Service-level management is difficult! Condensing it to a chapter is reductive, and it is important to understand the nuances. Let’s take a few examples to illustrate why this problem is difficult:

  • Maybe you say, I’ll just report on the percentage of requests that are successfully served by my API. Okay...as reported by whom? By the API? That’s obviously a problem, because what if your load balancers are down? Or, what if it returned a 200 ...

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