Winning the IT Availability War: How to Combat Costly Downtime
Analysts predict global enterprises will spend nearly $2 trillion on digital transformation by 2022. With digital initiatives and technology becoming ubiquitous with business today, one would think that companies would be more than ready for a world where virtually every touchpoint with customers is digital. Unfortunately, the fact that Target, British Airways, Facebook, and Twitter all experienced major IT outages in 2019 suggests there's still work left to do to keep services up and running, creating an optimal customer experience.
To explore precisely what organizations are doing to detect, mitigate and hopefully prevent outages, LogicMonitor, a provider of cloud-based IT infrastructure monitoring, commissioned the 2019 IT Outage Impact Study. The independent study surveyed 300 IT decision makers at organizations in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, and New Zealand to discover whether IT leadership is concerned about “keeping the lights on” for their businesses. The research revealed a stark reality at odds with today’s omnipresent digitization: IT teams are concerned about their ability to avoid costly outages, mitigate downtime, and reliably provide the 24/7 availability that customers and partners demand.
Are Outages Inevitable?
IT teams worldwide agree on two things: performance and availability are top priorities for their department. These two mission-critical priorities, in fact, beat out security and cost, which is surprising considering how much attention security gets in today’s data-breach heavy environment.
Yet IT’s intense focus on keeping the network up and running at peak performance hasn't prevented downtime. In fact, 96 percent of survey respondents report experiencing at least one IT outage in the past three years, which is bad news if performance and availability are considered make or break areas for modern organizations.
Common causes of downtime include network failure, surges in usage, human error, software malfunction and infrastructure that fails. What is surprising, however, is that organizations report that more than half of the downtime they experience could have been prevented.
Worryingly, IT decision makers are pessimistic when it comes to their ability to influence all-important availability. More than half (53 percent) of the 300 IT professionals surveyed say they expect to experience a brownout or outage so severe that the national media will cover the story, and the same percentage said someone in their organization will lose his or her job as a result of a severe outage. This begs the question: If even the most skilled technical experts in IT can’t prevent outages, who (or what) can?
The True Costs of Downtime
Negative media coverage and career impacts aside, downtime comes with additional costs for organizations. Survey respondents identify lost revenue, lost productivity and compliance-related costs as other factors associated with IT outages and brownouts (i.e., periods of dramatically reduced or slowed service). These costs add up quickly. Organizations with frequent outages and brownouts experience:
- 16 times higher costs associated with mitigating downtime than organizations with few or zero outages;
- have nearly two times the number of team members to troubleshoot problems related to downtime; and
- it takes two times as long to troubleshoot problems related to downtime.
How to Win the Availability War
If more than half of outages and brownouts are avoidable, then every organization should be taking proactive steps to prevent these disruptive events. The best-performing organizations are already working to prevent costly downtime. Consider taking the following actions to do the same:
- Embrace comprehensive monitoring. In today’s digital world, many companies operate in a hybrid IT environment with infrastructure both on-premises and in the cloud. Trying to spot trends using siloed monitoring tools for each platform is inefficient and prone to error. Identify and implement software that comprehensively monitors infrastructures, allowing the team to view IT systems through a single pane of glass. Consider extensibility and scalability during the selection process as well to ensure the platform integrates with all technologies — present and future.
- Use a monitoring solution that provides early visibility into trends that could signify trouble ahead. Data forecasting can proactively identify future failures and ultimately prevent an outage before it impacts the business. Teams should build a high level of redundancy into their monitoring systems as an additional method to prevent downtime and focus on eliminating single points of failure that might cause a system to go down.
- Don’t wait to create an IT outage response plan. Hopefully it will never be needed, but it’s critical to have a defined process for handling outages, from escalation and remediation to communication and root cause analysis. Set a plan on who to involve (and when) to ensure IT can respond quickly if an outage does occur.
While LogicMonitor’s 2019 Outage Impact Study revealed that downtime is surprisingly common, it also showed that top-performing organizations are able to banish downtime from their day-to-day operations through advanced planning and comprehensive monitoring. In the end, it's possible to win the IT availability war with the right combination of skilled team members and powerful monitoring technology. However, every minute of downtime is pricey, so there’s no time to waste.
Mark Banfield is chief revenue officer of LogicMonitor, the leading provider of cloud-based IT infrastructure monitoring.
Mark Banfield is Chief Revenue Officer of LogicMonitor, the leading provider of cloud-based IT infrastructure monitoring.
Mark is a seasoned leader with a history of developing international go-to-market strategies for high-growth businesses. He comes to LogicMonitor from Autotask (acquired Vista in 2014 and merged with Datto in 2017) where he was most recently Senior Vice President and General Manager, International. In his previous role, Mark was responsible for establishing and operating all international offices and grew Autotask’s international business to around 50% of total company’s revenue. Prior to Autotask, Mark held various sales management roles at Innopath and SmartTrust. Mark is a graduate of Kingston University, with a Master’s degree from University College London and further education at London Business School. In his free time, Mark enjoys spending time with his family.