Data Center Outages Cost $7,900 Per Minute, Study Finds

    Data Center Outages Can Cost Thousands of Dollars, Encouraging Companies to Build a Continuity Plan

    As businesses use increasingly complex digital office phone systems, storage environments and applications, decision-makers need to be sure they take precautions to ensure that those solutions are available on demand in the wake of an unexpected outage. Meanwhile, the growing presence of highly skilled and sophisticated cybercriminals who are intent on corrupting corporate processes and stealing confidential information is encouraging companies of all sizes to develop more realistic and robust strategies to make sure employees can access critical tools at all times, regardless of external circumstances.

    In many cases, using advanced perimeter security tools can keep data centers safe, though believing these services will keep IT architectures immune to outside activity is the wrong mindset to have. For this reason, businesses need to have disaster recovery plans in place to ensure their organization's ability to restore processes in the wake of an unplanned outage.

    While being enthusiastic about security is important, decision-makers should not necessarily be overconfident, as it is almost guaranteed that they will experience some downtime throughout their data center's life cycle. In fact, these occurrences are becoming increasingly common and expensive. According to a recent study by the Ponemon Institute on behalf of Emerson Network Power, the average costs associated with an unplanned data center outage exceeded $7,900 per minute in 2013, an increase of 41 percent from 2010.

    Scott Barbour, global business leader at Emerson Network Power, noted that in today's e-commerce landscape, businesses must be proactive in their attempt to make critical applications and solutions available to customers and employees. This is especially important for contact center teams, as customer representatives without access to crucial phone system features and other client-facing solutions will not be able to provide the level of service consumers are looking for today.

    The Financial Toll of a Disaster

    Unexpected outages can be a huge financial burden on companies of all sizes and industries. If a remote workforce cannot access critical applications or if communication tools are unavailable, operations essentially come to a standstill. Meanwhile, the costs associated with repairing these projects can be staggering. According to the Ponemon Institute, the average disruption lasted 86 minutes and cost more than $690,000.

    Additionally, the study found that there are different types of disasters, including "total" or "partial" outages. The latter generally lasted roughly 56 minutes and cost about $350,000, while downtime incidents classified as "total" neared two hours in length with expenses surpassing $900,000, the report noted.

    As for the frequency of these events, the majority of companies experienced at least one unplanned outage within the past two years, with some firms falling victim to several complete outages. This suggests that businesses need to build more comprehensive security and continuity initiatives that can prevent downtime situations from arising or at least reduce their impact on the bottom line and critical operations.

    "Given the fact that today's data centers support more critical, interdependent devices and IT systems than ever before, most would expect a rise in the cost of an unplanned data center outage compared to 2010. However, the 41 percent increase in costs was higher than expected and underscores the importance for companies to prioritize risk mitigation," said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute.

    Considering the fact that organizations rely on their data centers for a multitude of activities, including customer service and internal processes, businesses need to proactively ensure the assets hosted in those environments are available at all times.

    Time Is of the Essence

    Large enterprises and small companies face the same risks emerging in the face of the new year. As 2014 approaches, decision-makers need to build robust disaster recovery initiatives that minimize the amount of downtime organizations are forced to suffer in the wake of an unplanned outage. Unfortunately, smaller firms often have more at risk, as an unforeseen disruption in the data center may cause business phone systems and other critical tools to be unavailable, which may encourage customers to seek larger competitors.

    A Spiceworks study found that small organizations typically spend $5,700 each year to manage disaster recovery environments, though 42 percent of executives believe their strategies fall short. These companies need to understand the importance of using cloud services and other technologies that may make restoring operations in the wake of an emergency as productive as possible. Because every minute of downtime can cost thousands of dollars, it is in decision-makers' best interest to bring processes online as quickly as they can.

    As the technological landscape evolves and becomes increasingly complex, executives need to build comprehensive business continuity plans that allow firms to keep their feet on the ground at all times. With a robust disaster recovery plan in place, companies can reduce facing massive costs associated with downtime, allowing decision-makers to reinvest those savings into strategies that will support long-term growth.

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