Unexpected Downtime: Understanding the Costs, and Controlling the Risks

Downtime is the major issue that keeps IT professionals up late at night. Employees must be able to reasonably access their critical business resources whenever and wherever necessary to improve productivity and deliver quality customer service. Whether you’re managing your own setup or are outsourcing infrastructure maintenance, upholding the service level agreement and meeting user expectations remain essential priorities.

Instances of downtime are occurring more frequently – problems with computer systems have recently grounded flights and generally hurt business relations. Just how dangerous is downtime really and how will it impact your organization? Let’s take a closer look at how companies are affected by downtime and how they tackle it.

Cost of Recovery Is Rising

Whenever a disruption happens in a business, every minute that goes by is a minute of lost revenue and sales opportunities. According to a 2016 report by the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data center outage now clocks in at more than $740,000, or $9,000 per minute, Data Center Dynamics reported. The expenses are even more severe for major organizations like Amazon, which controls a number of different sites, services and products and was impacted by a major outage in 2017.

Data center server room

Recovering from unexpected downtime is also a difficult feat for most businesses. When the power suddenly goes out or systems go offline, hardware can be negatively impacted, and data might be lost. That means that organizations must invest to recover their essential information and replace damaged equipment. Businesses might also have to pay compliance fees if sensitive information was leaked or endangered. The rapid growth in cyberattacks and other critical events demonstrate a clear need for leaders to be prepared for the worst to recover effectively.

Not all downtime costs are monetary. Downtime can also negatively affect partnerships and supplier relationships. Customers are also less likely to trust or do business with an organization that has been breached or gone down unexpectedly. Rebuilding your reputation and fostering trust isn’t something that can be bought, making it difficult for many smaller companies to reopen their doors and continue operations.

Downtime Occurs For Many Reasons

There’s no silver bullet to tackle downtime. There are events that could have been prevented, while others are uncontrollable. Animals getting into electricity substations, gnawing on lines and causing a power outage, for example, is a situation that’s completely out of your hands. Fires within damaged hardware and user errors, however, are among the items that can be planned for to avoid issues.

Some assets are taken down when demand exceeds capacity, particularly as they try to scale. This can lead to miscommunications between data input and outputs, as well as gaps between what the user is experiencing and what the system is telling them, according to TechRepublic Senior Editor Conner Forrest. During these situations, users might not understand why they’re being rejected from the system, leading them to retry multiple times and resulting in a cascading failure. These issues are major indicators for downtime, and they can be challenging to patch quickly.

“Downtime can bring down and irreparably damage an organization in a matter of minutes.”

Avoid Downtime With Preparation

Downtime can bring down and irreparably damage an organization in a matter of minutes. The question here is how to make sure organizations are prepared to face issues from all fronts and predict the unexpected. Having a system and data backup plan is absolutely essential for recovering quickly and providing access to critical business assets. Businesses should follow the 3-2-1 strategy: three copies, stored on two different mediums with one online. This approach ensures that no matter what happens, backups are available to help recover quickly.

Organizations should also leverage new technology like predictive analytics to identify when a problem is emerging and stop it before it causes too much damage. ZDNet contributor David Gewirtz gave the example of the commercial showing IBM’s Watson calling for a repairman for an elevator to prevent a system failure. This level of intelligence might not be universally available for some time, but organizations can take advantage of tools that still reveal a lot of actionable insights.

“You’re never going to eliminate all interruptions and failures. But many IT disasters can be predicted, Gewirtz wrote. “Based on an ever-growing knowledge base, the ability to add telemetry into systems and virtual machines, the ability to maintain huge, big-data data sets of historical performance information, and the growth in the science of machine learning, it is possible that we can predict many of the problems that would normally knock us back.”

Downtime is an issue that plagues businesses across every industry. While it might not be fully prevented, backups and analytics can help minimize the damage and recover quickly. To find out more information about tackling unplanned downtime, contact Faronics today.

About The Author

Suzannah Hastings

Suzannah is interested in all things digital, from software security to the latest technological advances. She writes about ways in which the increasingly internet-driven landscape and windows technologies like steady state alternative that change our lives, and what we can expect in the future.

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