Quantifying the high cost of IT downtime

Managed service providers are often used to augment an IT staff rather than replace it altogether, and that usually means the MSP needs to conform to the processes that the IT organization has created to run their operations. Unfortunately, those processes tend to be manual, which means anytime anything goes wrong the resulting fire drill is all too often chaotic at best.

In fact, a new survey of 152 IT professionals conducted by Everbridge, a provider of an emergency communications application made available as a cloud service, finds that only 11 percent of respondents have automated the process of responding to IT outages and incidents. The survey also finds that the average cost of IT downtime was reported at $8,662 per minute and that it takes on average of 27 minutes to activate and assemble a response team. The survey suggests that means companies are already $232,000 in the hole before their team even begins to work on the problem.

To make matters even more interesting, the study also finds that 47 percent of companies experienced a major IT outage or incident six times or more per year, and 36 percent reported that they experienced outages 11 or more times a year. In fact, just over a quarter said they experienced more than 21 incidents last year. At 21 times a year that’s at a minimum almost $5 million in annual costs.

Warning signs of IT downtime

The most common causes of these issues were network outages (61 percent), hardware failure or capacity issues (58 percent), internal business application issues (51 percent), and unplanned maintenance (41 percent). Obviously, those levels of outages create a significant need for backup and recovery services.

But what must be arguably most frustrating for everyone concerned is that these IT organizations know there will be an outage. They might not know when or how, but the fact that some critical element of their IT environment is going to fail should be apparent. Despite this knowledge, there is usually nothing approaching a formal incident management plan in place. Each incident is addressed in isolation in a way that suggests IT organizations are incapable of learning from past events.

How to respond as an MSP

MSPs that serve these IT organizations have a vested interest in helping to put an incident management plan in place. In an ideal world, the MSP would be able manage the IT environment on an end-to-end basis. Most MSPs, however, are simply waiting for problems to roll down the proverbial hill.

Rather than passively accepting that fate, MSPs should present customers with a formal incident response plan that does as much to protect the operations of the MSP as it does to protect the end customer. At the core of that plan should be a series of automated processes aimed at reducing the time, and by extension the expense, associated with responding to any given IT incident.

They say doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. If that’s the case, then many of the IT organizations that employ MSPs must be asylums run by the inmates. The issue MSPs need to figure out is how to best go about curing that insanity by creating a program the patient will participate in. Any good doctor knows that unless the patient acknowledges there is a problem in the first place the treatment plan is generally going to be less than useless. The ultimate issue for MSPs, of course, is to what degree do they want to participate in that insanity themselves before deciding it’s more trouble than its worth.

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