The actual cost of datacenter downtime

The cost of failure is high, and identifying the potential problems is the first step towards preventing them


It should come as no surprise to anyone that as cloud and network based services become more prevalent the impact on business when these services fail has become more pronounced. According to a survey from Ponemon Institute, sponsored by Emerson Network Power, the actual cost, in terms of direct, indirect, and lost opportunity, has increased more than 40 percent in the last 3 years.

More than 90 percent of the 450 datacenters professionals surveyed reported that they had experienced an unplanned outage in the two years prior to the study. On average, they reported two complete datacenter outages in the study time period, with an average downtime of almost two hours. Based on the Ponemon Institute calculations, these two hour outages cost an average of just over $900,000 or more than $7900 per minute. Partial outages, which were defined as the outage of one or more racks within the datacenter, had an average recovery time of less than one hour with an associated cost of about $350,000.

More than 80 percent of the respondents were able to identify a specific root cause of their system failure, reported as follows:

  • UPS battery failure (55 percent)
  • Accidental / human error (48 percent)
  • UPS capacity exceeded (46 percent)
  • Cyber attack (34 percent)
  • IT equipment failure (33 percent)
  • Water incursion (32 percent)
  • Weather related (30 percent)
  • Heat related/CRAC failure (29 percent)
  • UPS equipment failure (27 percent)
  • PDU/circuit breaker failure (26 percent)

The most positive aspect of the report is that in the three years between studies (the first was done in 2010), datacenters, on the whole, have become more reliable, with both the number of incidents and their duration going down.  But with the nature of the cloud-based business model, both public and private, the reliability of your datacenter servicers and the supporting infrastructure will become exponentially more import to the business bottom line.


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