Date: 13th Feb, 2023
We are now deep into the digital age, and software truly runs the world. As the world of work relies on technology applications for survival, ensuring that these systems perform consistently at all times becomes essential.
It comes as no surprise that ensuring reliability, scalability, performance, and availability have become areas of strategic importance for the enterprise. Tight deadlines, global demands, and increasing competition in a tough global market require dependable IT infrastructure with reliable application performance. Downtime, when technology runs the world, can lead to undue duress.
The Cost of Downtime
IT downtime today not only causes immense inconvenience to business operations, but it also adds up to high costs.
Research shows that :-
• The proportion of outages costing over $100,000 has significantly increased in recent years. As it stands, about 60% of failures accrue at least $100,000 in total losses — much more than the 39% reported in 2019.
• For small to medium businesses, the cost of downtime stands at $137 and $427 per minute.
• Around 76% of companies have experienced service downtime in the past year.
•The cost of downtime in high-risk industries such as banking and finance, government, manufacturing, healthcare, and media and communication is higher and amounts to $5 million per hour.
Ensuring 100% efficiency and availability is the new nightmare keeping CIOs awake at night. Outages in today’s highly customer-centric environment can tarnish the market reputation, impact customer experience negatively, and can also invite regulatory scrutiny.
While planned downtime ensures normal business operations and uninterrupted productivity, unscheduled downtime is unintentional, unanticipated, can occur at any time, and can bring a business to a grinding halt.
Some of the key reasons why downtime occurs in the enterprise IT infrastructure are :-
Human error is one of the most common reasons for IT downtime. Unintentional deleting of data, not following standard protocols, and reactive maintenance processes can lead to errors and unplanned downtime.
Hardware and Software Failure
Dated and old hardware and software also contribute to downtime. They increase the chances of application failure and system outages. Challenges like network congestion, inability to execute complex applications, etc., can lead to unscheduled downtime and performance issues. Disturbance in customer experience is also a very valid worry when it comes to such failure and can lead to significant business impact.
Unscheduled downtime can also take place when the demand exceeds the application capacity. Configuration gaps, poor load balancing, unoptimised application architecture, etc., can lead to overload and cause the application/system to crash.
Bugs and Cyberattacks
Bugs and service misconfiguration can lead to unplanned downtime in enterprises. Bugs in a server’s operating system impact performance and can introduce security issues. Cyberthreats, including sophisticated ransomware and phishing attacks, are also common reasons for IT downtime and can bring organisations to a standstill.
Service and Device Misconfiguration
Service and device misconfiguration also contribute to downtime by creating security gaps in the network and making it vulnerable to cyberattacks. Regression defects need to be considered as well to ensure that a planned fix does not cause an issue elsewhere in the application. These defects can move into production and wreak havoc on core systems.
Third-Party Supplier or Cloud Outages
Third-party or cloud outages due to poor downtime planning, human error, hardware issues, deployment issues, power supply glitches, damage to hard disk platter, bugs, firmware upgrades, bad dependencies, etc., can also lead to downtime.
What Is the Impact of Downtime?
Downtime can have far-reaching consequences and present huge, avoidable costs to an enterprise. Research shows that 96% of enterprises face costly IT outages, even though global IT decision-makers have said 51% of downtime is avoidable. Also, Gartner has previously estimated the average cost of downtime to be between $140,000 and $540,000 per hour.
Some major consequences of IT downtime are :-
• A part from core IT costs, there is a revenue impact for every minute an IT system is down. Revenue impact is sometimes calculated as follows:
Revenue loss = (GR/TH) x I x H
(GR = gross annual revenue, TH = total annual business hours, I = percentage impact, H = hours of downtime)
• The business disruption could affect all departments in an enterprise. Business disruption is the amount of time when a business’s day-to-day activities are interrupted.
• A single interruption could mean a disturbance in the customer experience and lost business.
• Lower employee productivity. Research shows that a business can lose 545 hours of employee productivity on average because of IT downtime.
How To Avoid Downtime?
As the pace of technology change accelerates and we move into the hybrid world of work, avoiding downtime, especially for complex, business-critical applications and IT systems, assumes strategic importance.
Moving from a reactive to a proactive stand to manage IT downtime becomes essential for enterprises to drive productivity, innovation, and competitiveness. Early detection and prevention of technology failures are emerging as critical capabilities for enterprises. However, to achieve high availability, scalability, efficiency, and performance, performance engineering of IT systems and solutions becomes vital.hr
A comprehensive technology platform to manage IT complexities and to safeguard and maximise the return on IT investment is now an important tool in the CIOs arsenal. Such a platform should, however, allow enterprises to manage the needs of complex integrated environments and off-the-shelf application suites and should extend from legacy applications to cloud systems.
The platform should be compatible with current as well as new IT systems and should :-
• Deliver predictive capability for early detection of issues and continuous improvement in the Quality of Service (QoS).
• Help prevent and rapidly resolve Performance, Availability, Scalability, and Security (P-A-S-S™) related issues across all layers of the technology stack.
• Enable in-depth evaluation of downtime influencers from an architectural perspective and identify practical solutions to transform system efficiency.
• Make it easier to isolate and resolve complex issues, especially for integrated applications that use heterogeneous technologies in multi-vendor scenarios.
• Identify issues in the impacted technology layer (for applications where source code is not accessible) with sufficient empirical analysis to deploy timely fixes and to provide faster resolution for complex technical issues.
• Employ a proven approach to ensure that IT systems are consistently engineered and managed to deliver peak performance.
Taking a proactive stand to manage downtime automatically results in higher productivity and better customer experience through reliable IT systems and applications. Such an approach allows prompt mitigation of risks, prevents business disruptions associated with technology failures, and helps enterprises to stay more agile, resilient, and productive in the face of disruption.