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We are revisiting how we do observability at my organisation, and I'm reading about Service Level Indicators (SLIs) as a way of measuring how our systems are performing. But what I'm struggling to get my head around is how this differs from Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that I've heard others speak about?

They sound interchangeable to me, but is there some subtlety that I'm missing? Or are they really two ways of saying the same thing?

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  • It looks like KPI is the broader term used primarily for assessing the performance of a company. SLI pertains to website performance where performance has a narrower technical meaning, like processing speed, and response times and availability. Commented Aug 7, 2022 at 18:19
  • I’m voting to close this question because I think it isn't specificially related to Software Engineering. It might be a better fit for "The Workplace".
    – Doc Brown
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 13:45

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SLI´s are used in combination with a service and its SLA´s (Service Level Agreements). KPI´s are used to evaluate the effectivness of a company (a team, a group, ...)

When you break it down, in both cases you choose indicators which give you an insight, to evaluate how good something is. Only the applied perspective is different.
The perspective of the KPI is delivering business value, the perspective of the SLI is fullfilling the service level agreement.

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