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Uh oh, downtime!

Downtime by Quest

The impacts of downtime on a business can be devastating, as this cringe–inducing chart reveals:

Downtime impacts
Downtime impacts by Quest
Source: 3 Steps to IT Resilience, Forrester

How much downtime is caused by IT complexity?

Often, the reasons behind downtime incidents are quite mundane – an uninterruptible power supply has failed, a staffer has screwed up, a hardware component has ceased to function, and so on.

Such parsing of downtime causes, however, disguises an underlying truth about many downtime events: IT complexity . Increasingly, today’s IT infrastructures are making downtime inevitable . That’s why this next chart is so revealing.

Downtime causes
Downtime Causes by Quest
Source: 3 Steps to IT Resilience, Forrester

Here, in plain sight, we see the impact of IT infrastructure failures on downtime. And depending on what failed, when it failed, and for how long, this can be a very costly deal – though if you don’t actually have the numbers, you’re far from alone. No fewer than 57% of enterprises do not know their cost of downtime .

This is understandable because the actual cost of a downtime incident varies depending on its root cause . Downtime triggered by weather, for instance, costs less (at an average of $455,000 per incident) than downtime caused by human error (averaging $489,000 per incident).

Worst of all, though, is downtime resulting from IT equipment failure, which costs an average of $995,000 per incident and brings us back to IT complexity.

15 minutes or bust

Most organizations suffering downtime have disaster recovery solutions and policies in place – but downtime persists. Under certain conditions, it even worsens as enterprises risk IT infrastructure failure to embrace new capabilities like virtualization and hybrid cloud computing in order to remain competitive.

Meanwhile, those same competitive pressures require enterprises to field services that experience substantially less downtime than ever before. A recent study noted that 35% of the organizations surveyed now have a downtime recovery goal of 15 minutes or less.

Recovery in our virtualized, cloudy, always–on world

Yet organizations using backup alone failed to recover virtual machines in production environments within those all-important 15 minutes .

This is not acceptable, especially given the escalating cost of data center outages, currently 38% higher than in 2010 . This year, the median cost of unplanned downtime topped $7,000 per minute; maximally, it can exceed $17,000 per minute .

So how does your enterprise compare? What happens to your business when some or all of your IT infrastructure suffers downtime for longer than 15 minutes?

In my next post, I’ll focus on why traditional disaster recovery solutions need to be upgraded to deliver the competitively critical uptime required in our virtualized, cloudy, always–on world .

Meet the Author
Tim Burke is the President and CEO of Quest. He has been at the helm for over 30 years.
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