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The Cost of Downtime: What You Lose With Poor IT Infrastructure Performance

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IT professionals know that no system is so foolproof that it will never fail. However, the cost of even a few minutes of downtime is increasing, creating a conflict between how much uptime your company can guarantee and how quickly system administrators need to be able to restore access.

Consumers and businesses are relying more than ever on “always-on” services – from media and entertainment streaming services to financial and retail applications. In fact, some companies even run their entire business on cloud-based services. 

Google says that more than 5 million businesses worldwide use its Google Apps for Work suite (which includes Gmail, Calendar, Drive and more). About 10 percent of those companies saw business come to a standstill on January 24, 2014, when Google was offline for about 25 to 55 minutes

Given that research shows downtime can cost businesses an average $5,600 per minute, you could reasonably estimate that each of those Google customers could have lost between $140,000 and $308,000 in lost productivity and potential revenue in that short amount of time.

So it’s no wonder why angry Google customers fired off complaints, curses and their very best 140-character quips that January afternoon, while tech journalists published updates at a rapid-fire pace, chronicling every twist and turn. There’s big money at stake when downtime occurs.

Service providers feel that pressure, and as a result, your boss may pass high consumer expectations on to you, the sysadmin, in the form of higher promised availability times and quicker recovery time objectives (RTO). But, knowing how unrealistic it is to be online all the time, how do you deliver on those promises without having to set up a cot and live in your server room? Here’s how IT and business service monitoring helps.

Planning for Major Interruptions   

Sometimes Mother Nature throws you a curveball and offers up a scenario that seems impossible to plan for. If you were Yahoo’s IT admin, how would you have prepared for an 11-day email service outage, which was reportedly the result of a severed underwater sea cable?

It seems unfair to armchair quarterback such an unusual incident, but as the IT admin for an always-on service, high customer demands leaves you no choice but to plan for the unexpected. Business service monitoring can help.

With it, you can create a visual representation of your network and identify which services are reliant on IT clusters within your infrastructure. If a server fails, pre-set alerts can let you know if you have enough resources in that cluster to keep that service running, or if the entire cluster is down and you need to failover to a backup. That can speed your response and ensure you’re reacting efficiently.

Sweating the Small Outages

Of course, most of your downtime-related headaches will be caused by small outages, such as a slowdown in service or a brief network maintenance interruption.

Proactive IT monitoring can help you limit these outages by ensuring you have a healthy network. Network management technology can track performance and let you know when particular parts of your infrastructure are overworked or underutilized, and potentially contributing to lags or outages.

Historical performance data can also be used to predict future capacity issues, helping you prevent interruptions before they occur. By setting up a single network performance dashboard, you gain a single view of activity to ensure that everything is working as it should and that you are able to support your customers. 

IT Monitoring Helps You Manage Expectations

Downtime may be unavoidable, but don’t try telling your customers that. Ultimately, IT professionals must learn to live and thrive in a world where consumers and businesses expect 100 percent uptime, no matter how unrealistic that may be. As the old saying goes, the best defense is a good offense, so develop a proactive IT and business service monitoring strategy to protect yourself from the types of outages that can frustrate customers and sink your business.

Download our eBook for free and learn:

  • The origin of the 100% uptime myth
  • Ways to agree on achievable SLAs
  • How much outages of major brands really cost
  • How "Always-On" media companies such as Sky Media, King Ltd (makers of Candy Crush), insure their network uptime
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