By Eddie Desouza, Head of Marketing & New Business, Comtec 

Downtime can be caused by multiple factors such as human error, hardware failures or cyber attacks; it’s a major problem for businesses of all sizes and in all industries. However, sometimes it’s the most unsuspecting factor that can cause the biggest damage to your company’s IT, resulting in lost revenues and reputation.

British Airways (BA) suffered a major IT failure during a Bank Holiday weekend in 2017. The effects of this resulted in travel chaos for 75,000 passengers and a cost of failure amounting to £80 million. The cause of this? An engineer disconnecting a power supply, with the major damage caused by a surge when it was reconnected.

Most IT outages, or downtime, aren’t as expensive, or as well publicised. But whatever the cause, downtime is a major problem for businesses of all sizes and in all industries. According to Gartner, the average cost of downtime is about $5600 per minute, or more than $300,000 per hour. However, this is just an average and there is a large degree of variance, based on the type of business and its technology. Other research suggests that the hourly cost of downtime may be much higher at between $140,000 to $540,000.

The resilience of IT − and maintaining access to data – are critical to the success of almost any business. Downtime can reduce a company’s profits, damage its reputation and employee morale. So, what are the main causes of IT downtime? And how can businesses reduce it?

The main causes of downtime

The most common causes of datacentre outages, according to the Ponemon Institute, a research organisation specialising in privacy, data protection and information security policy, are a failure of “uninterruptable power supply” (25%), cyber crime (22%) and human error (22%).

Surprisingly, the failure of IT equipment only accounts for four per cent of datacentre outages. BUT overload your IT system and this can be another common culprit, according to Luke Stone, Google’s director of customer reliability engineering.

Eliminating downtime

1. Cyber crime
Not only is your data at threat from cyber criminals, your whole IT estate can also be brought to a standstill. So what precautions should you employ to minimise your risk of enforced downtime? This is too large a topic to cover here but it is imperative as a business that you adopt a security centric culture. One popular method for building IT applications securely is “Security by Design.” This concept ensures that security, privacy and compliance are included at the design and build stages at every level of infrastructure and application development.

2. Human error
Your employees can sometimes be the weakest link in your effort to reduce downtime, so what should be done about it? Training is central in mitigating the effects of user error; share with them the effects of not changing their password regularly and have a really tight Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy.

3. Preventing IT overload
To prevent demand exceeding capacity, some companies use a technique called load balancing – distributing an IT task between two or more computers to cope with growing demand from users.

4. Why are UPS systems important?
The primary reason for deploying a UPS system is to provide an insurance policy against complete power failure, intermittent power failures or power surges. UPS systems ensure that your IT enterprise systems are not disrupted, and business continues as usual. When it is needed will your UPS cope with the IT load and give you adequate run time for your needs? And what happens if the UPS fails; what is the back-up for the UPS?

What next?
Businesses will never eliminate IT downtime. IT systems will fail. Humans will make errors. Hackers will breach even the most stringent company security. But with some smart planning and the right back up, downtime can be reduced. Any IT outages that do happen can be dealt with promptly and calmly, minimising disruption to your business.

Comtec is a Managed Applications Access Partner (MAAP) which focuses on best-in-class technologies, enabling businesses to maximise their technology and meet business objectives at the same time. We would love to talk to you about your challenges and how we can help minimise downtime in your business. Get in touch with us today.