The Downtime Downside: 5 Industries That Require High Availability
By: Bob Landstrom
Data centre providers strive for service that achieves such little downtime – mere minutes across an entire year – that it's essentially imperceptible by users.
Availability is measured by percentage, to the nearest "nine." As an example, 99 percent availability translates to 88 hours of downtime each year. Data centres that guarantee "more nines," say, 99.99 percent (53 minutes of downtime annually) or 99.999 percent (5.3 minutes), are judged to provide greater availability. This is important, because downtime costs companies an average of $5,600 per minute, plus innumerable lost productivity and reputational damage.
In these five data-intensive industries in particular, any significant level of unplanned downtime is unacceptable:
In the finance industry, high availability is required to maintain continuous trading, compliance and customer trust. When systems falter in finance – as they did last November with the Singapore Stock Exchange and in June 2015 with the New York Stock Exchange – the money simply stops flowing.
In late 2013, Sutter Health facilities in California were unable to access electronic medical records for an entire day, putting patient health at risk. Healthcare facilities require high availability to meet urgent patient needs and provide around-the-clock care, not to mention to avoid significant costs – $627,418 per incident, on average.
3. Public Safety
The Pentagon Force Protection Agency provides security for 100 military buildings in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland, so when a "catastrophic network technological outage" occurred in May 2014, the police force didn't have full visibility of the area it was supposed to defend. This incident proves the value of technology in securing the well-being of a community.
The retail sector depends on efficient supply chains delivering high-quality products to customers – any downtime breaks that chain. Downtime costs the retail industry $18 billion annually, and it can be particularly damaging during times of high demand, like the busy holiday shopping season.
Society's expectation of the media and publishers is that they issue regular updates as they happen – the morning paper or evening news are no longer sufficient to meet ongoing demand. By avoiding downtime, media and news outlets can maintain regular content publishing.
Going Beyond Monetary Costs
It’s important to note that losses resulting from downtime aren't only measured in lost revenue, and they also go beyond the time when an outage is resolved. In our always-on society, with expectations of 24/7 service, downtime can also affect the reputation of the brand.
To mitigate the risk of loss, service providers seek data centre providers that promise high availability and are backed up by years of meeting SLA requirements. These data centre partners should show strong evidence top-level engineering and certifications, superior operational processes, and disciplined security measures – and a track record to back it all up.