In the previous article, we described SLO and SLA and how to measure them on a WebServer like Nginx or Apache, and in this article, we will discuss the major root causes that decrease the SLA and how to deal with them.

SLA Time-based :

Time-based SLA is either Online or Offline and a Server can be offline for several reasons, in the following table we will gather all the most common root causes and the actions that should be taken, also the monitoring acti0n to perform to get notified when the issue happens again.

Root Cause Action to take Monitoring action
Outage Could be Datacenter, Check the Cloud Provider status page Review the SLA with your Datacenter or with your Cloud Provider
DNS issue Check DNS records for any miss-configuration Setup notifications for any DNS Changes, Review SLA with your DNS provider, Monitoring with HTTP and ICMP
Security Double-check for any firewalls upgrades, check firewall rules Uptime monitoring, using ICMP pings and HTTP requests to the endpoint
Dependencies outage Check Database Connection, Dependent APIs HTTP requests to concerned endpoints

Note:  Uptime SLA is important to track how long the application is running per day, but this doesn't count if this application is buggy or doesn't respond correctly, for we have to calculate the SLA aggregate to track the requests.

SLA Aggregate-based:

Aggregate-based SLA is generally used for APIs, and it measures the successful requests over the failed ones. In the following table, we will list out all the common issues that could drag down the SLA, we will also provide what actions should be taken immediately to confirm the root cause and how to monitor it next time and deal with it directly :

Root Cause Action to take Monitoring Actions
5XX Investigate the bug/downtime part of the app that causes the error Use Error Tracking system like Sentry or glitchtip ..etc
DB Failures Check Logs, Metrics of the DB server Log time-consuming queries, apply monitoring on the server metrics, optimize queries for better response time
Ressources shortage Check the metrics (CPU, Load, RAM, Disk, IO ..etc) Set alarms, Metris logs such as TICK Stack
Single Point of Failure Check the responses from the main apps that the app depends on Harden the availability monitoring, try to avoid as possible SPF

Error Tracking is very important

Without a tool for Error Tracking, you can't find bugs and errors that crash the productions, which sometimes can be impossible.

Getting notified once an error occurs for a user during his experience is very useful and will give you also the exact scenario to reproduce the same issue and solve it quickly.

Learning from the error log history will optimize code healthily and stabilize the SLA, then after waiting for a few days the balance of successful requests will go higher which increases automatically the SLA.

Cache

The cache is great, there's nothing best than Cloudflare which serves a cached copy from its Cache Edges, even if the server is down, which will keep the SLA stable until the server issue is solved.

CleverCloud

I am a big fan of CleverCloud since it uses Blue/Green Deployment which keeps your CI/CD easier and prevents any downtimes during releases.

Blue/Green deployment is a technique used in the automated deployment of applications, databases, and services. Its main goal is to minimize the downtime and risks of an application by running two identical environment instances, one called Blue and the other one called Green.
Green/Blue Deployment Screenshot

With CleverCloud you can get also auto-scaling architecture very easily, if one of your servers gets too many requests, Clevercloud will trigger the deployment of new servers for your application to support the load, instead of the increase of your response time which slows down the app or take it down.

In this screenshot, we have an example of an app deployed on CleverCloud with auto-scaling enabled, it can go up to 16 instances Horizontally and each instance will increase from XS to 3XL.

CleverCloud Can also give you an overview of your daily SLA for a specific app or for the total apps created for the last 24 hours.

Source: https://www.clever-cloud.com

What to do if the SLA keeps going down?

When you think an SLA breach has occurred, here’s what to do:

The first action is to as soon as you noticed the issue is communicating the issue internally with the dedicated team, and include everyone, through the available communication channels, Email, Slack, Telegram, ..etc.

A status page is a great tool to communicate with the public(clients, users, audience..etc), We recommend using tools like CachetHQ, Gatus, Statping ..etc

Since no cloud provider will commit to the perfect achievement of targets, have to be aware that SLA breaches can happen at any time, for that designing your software should consider SLAs since day 0.

One way is to factor in SLAs during the design of the service rather than bolting them on after going live.

By investigating root causes and coming up with workarounds and improvements, any issue that causes repeat SLA breaches can be addressed, whether it involves:

  • Greenkeeping and upgrading the stacks
  • Team training/coaching
  • Improving the Design Pattern of the architecture.
  • Revamping old projects that use deprecated technologies/libraries
  • Invest in the Sysadmin Team(Hire more Ops/Dev people)

Monitoring and alerting particularly with thresholds to warn/notify before a catastrophic incident occurs.

Automated workflows help with reducing human intervention especially during off times and holidays, and shortening the intervention time.

Planning for SLA breaches

It isn’t possible to avoid every single SLA breach—some are bound to happen. But by preparing for them in the first place, you can limit the damage they might cause.

Conclusion

Understanding and investigating is not an easy task especially when it comes to SLA agreed with clients, and impacts the business.

The best way to increase the SLA for the company is to tackle every problem with proper preventive monitoring, also implementing a log & metric management stack is crucial to get the exact source of errors that causes the SLA degradation.
Where setting up alerts reduces the time to solve the issues and can also prevent them from happening.

You can improve the availability by using several managed services such as Databases, CleverCloud Apps which makes also your CI/CD easier. An availability set is a logical grouping of VMs that allows Azure to understand how your app is designed to provide for redundancy and availability.


If you have a problem and no one else can help. Maybe you can hire the Kalvad-Team.