Access and Feeds

Data Centers: The High Cost of Downtime

By Dick Weisinger

Cloud Computing services from Google and Microsoft offer guaranteed uptimes of better than 99.9%.  While that sounds good, it’s not good enough for many application. Mission critical apps need to be up at all times and typically target an availability rate of something closer to 99.999%.

Downtimes for any kind of data center, whether cloud-based or on premise, can be costly.  A survey by the Ponemon Institute and Emerson Network Power found that a data center outage costs an average of $5600 per minute, which works out to $336,000 per hour.  Ponemon also estimates that the average downtime is about 90 minutes, or about $505,500 per incident.  95 percent of data centers experienced one or more unplanned service outages over the last two years.  Data centers average about one outage every year.

Research from the International Working Group on Cloud Computing Resiliency (IWGCR), while similar to the Ponemon study, focused on cloud services, and concluded that downtimes can be very costly to businesses.  They found that, on average, over a year, cloud services are down as much as 7.5 hours, which that translated to an availability rate of 99.9%.  While 7.5 hours doesn’t seen too bad, the group points out if you consider the availability of other utilities, like electricity, that’s really a long time.  Most cities average less than 15 minutes per year of electricity outages.

From 2007 to mid-2012, the IWGCR calculated that there was a total of 568 hours of downtime among 13 of the most well-known cloud services.  They then estimated the damages for that downtime.  Compared to Ponemon, the IWGCR estimates for damages are more conservative, and came closer to $2100 per minute.

A study by Symantec found that the increasing complexity of data centers is the real culprit.  Data centers of all sizes, industries and regions are becoming increasingly complex.  The Symantec report found that outages are just one of the damaging consequences of ever growing data center complexity.  Other impacts from the increasing complexity of data centers include reduced agility, security breaches, and longer lead times for storage migrations.

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