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4 ways to reduce the risk of network downtime

As businesses become increasingly reliant on technology, the costs associated with network outages are growing. Here’s how to reduce the risk.

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As businesses become increasingly reliant on technology, it’s no surprise that the costs associated with network downtime are growing. According to data from Gartner, network outages cost organizations an average of $5,600 USD per minute – crunch the numbers and that’s $336,000 an hour – while a separate survey from Information Technology Intelligence Consulting (ITIC) put the cost far higher for many businesses. ITIC’s latest annual review, the 2017 Reliability and Hourly Cost of Downtime Trends Survey, polled over 800 organizations and found that for one-third of enterprises, the cost of an hour-long outage can top $1 million USD.

“For one-third of enterprises, the cost of an hour-long outage can top $1 million USD.”

Information Technology Intelligence Consulting

In North America, outages are estimated to cost a total of $700 billion a year – more than the GDP of some small nations – with organizations reporting an average of five downtime events and 27 hours of downtime each month.

As staggering as these numbers may be, they only represent lost revenue and productivity – providing an incomplete picture of the full cost of an outage. In addition to halting business to a standstill, network downtime can also result in reputational damage, compliance penalties and other issues which can cause these dollar amounts to grow even further.

Ideally, outages need to be stopped before they happen. Here are four things to look for that can reduce the risk of downtime and keep your business connected.

  1. Network redundancies: Whether due to a hardware failure, power outage, weather event or some other cause, network problems can and do happen. The key to preventing downtime due to these issues is in having a backup plan. Network redundancy means there are multiple data paths between network locations, so if one fails, an alternate is available. Furthermore, a backup power supply, both on-premises and at server centres, can add an even greater degree of protection.
  2. Fibre internet: Organizations seeking fast, reliable connectivity may want to consider fibre optic networks over options such as copper wiring. This is due to vulnerabilities inherent in the wiring itself. Since fibre is sturdier, it is not as sensitive to moisture and temperature fluctuations, which can interfere with connectivity. nor is it sensitive to interference from electronic or radio signals. Furthermore, with symmetrical speeds up to and beyond 10 Gbps, fibre internet can also mitigate or eliminate productivity losses – and the resulting costs – that can come from slow network performance.
  3. Security: Not all outages are accidental. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are responsible for more than one in five unplanned outages, making network security another powerful tool for reducing the risk of downtime. Whether you outsource security or manage threats in-house it’s vital to stay on top of the latest cyber-threats. To prevent attacks, it is also important you monitor your network security around the clock so that threats can be quickly identified and stopped.
  4. Service-level agreement (SLA): While an SLA is not actually a tool for preventing an outage, it reveals a great deal about the reliability of your service provider. For starters, look for a vendor who can guarantee uptime of 99% or more. Should an outage occur, your SLA can help mitigate losses because it makes your emergency your provider’s emergency too. Though most vendors will not guarantee resolution times within an SLA, the agreement should include legally-binding timelines for responding to a problem, and may even include financial penalties for your vendor if the standards are not met.

For businesses, network downtime isn’t just inconvenient – it can be incredibly costly. By addressing the factors above, you can minimize not only your chances of experiencing downtime, but also the damage one may cause.