"Data center downtime continues to be a menace to enterprise profitability and productivity. Today's data centers are more expensive to build and maintain than ever, which translates to high costs if everything isn't functioning properly. According to the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of an unplanned data center outage is about $7,900 per minute.
As data center environments expand and more mission-critical applications, infrastructure and system management migrate to the data center, eliminating unplanned downtime is mission-critical. The results of Ponemon's 2013 Causes of Downtime study, conducted jointly with Emerson Network Power, indicate that while instances of downtime decreased slightly in frequency and duration over the last few years, the costs continue to rise. The study, which analyzed 67 U.S. data centers at least 2,500 square feet in size, sought to determine the direct, indirect and opportunity costs stemming from unplanned outages.
In 2010, data centers lost about $5,600 per minute of downtime, according to the study. The $7,900 lost per minute represents a 41 percent increase from three years ago. Coupled with an average recovery time of 119 minutes, it means that organizations are losing about $901,500 per outage incident. Overall, 91 percent of survey respondents stated they had suffered from an unplanned outage in the past 24 months, slightly down from the 95 percent who admitted to experiencing outages in 2010. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, said that while the rapid ascent and increased complexity of the data center industry was likely to lead to some growing pains, the numbers still indicate clear room for improvement.
""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,"" Ponemon stated. ""This increase in cost underscores the importance for organizations to make it a priority to minimize the risk of downtime that can potentially cost thousands of dollars per minute.""
What Causes Data Center Downtime?
The survey also discussed the root causes of outages and downtime with respondents in an effort to identify the most common factors that trigger work stoppages and prolong the effort to get systems back to full functionality. Overall, only 52 percent of respondents said that they could identify outages that might have been prevented.
The most commonly cited sources of work stoppages include:
Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) battery failure (55 percent)
Accidental emergency power off/human error (48 percent)
UPS capacity exceeded (46 percent)
Cyberattack (34 percent)
IT equipment failure (33 percent)
Water incursion (32 percent)
Weather-related failure (30 percent)
Heat-related/computer room air conditioning (CRAC) unit failure (29 percent)
UPS equipment failure (27 percent)
Power distribution unit/circuit breaker failure (26 percent)
One bright spot the report found is that 83 percent of survey respondents said they could identify the underlying source of downtime.Disaster recovery and business continuity planning depend on the ability to pinpoint downtime origins in order to eliminate them. It's a good sign that companies can get systems back on track quickly, even if they still remain unsure of the root cause.
The study also ranked the most expensive unplanned outages, calculating the average loss due to the system-stopping factor. The most expensive of the commonly cited downtime triggers include:
IT equipment failure ($959, 000)
UPS system failure ($478,000)
Water, heat or CRAC failure ($517,000)
Generator failure ($501,000)
Weather incursion ($436,000)
Accidental/human error ($380,000)
The report also emphasized the criticality of constant equipment monitoring, regular testing and maintaining communication between IT personnel and senior company officials to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
""As data centers continue to evolve to support businesses and organizations that are becoming more social, mobile and cloud-based, there is an increasing need for a growing number of companies and organizations to make it a priority to minimize the risk of downtime and commit the necessary investment in infrastructure technology and resources,"" stated Peter Panfil, vice president of global power for Emerson Network Power."