What Really Causes Network Outages and What You Can Do to Stop It.

Electronic data is one of the most valuable assets of any company. It propels business, connects colleagues, clients and vendors, and drives growth.

The cost of any unplanned corporate outage is high, resulting in business interruption and distraction, lost revenue, decreased productivity, and lost business. In some cases, it can result in a total shutdown and business failure.

You might guess that the single biggest reason for an outage is a broken server, but you would be wrong. Surprisingly, IT industry research firm The Ponemon Institute reports that only 4 percent of outages are the result of a faulty server.

So, what are the causes of most outages?

  • Inadequate or No Backup Power
    The Ponemon Institute reports that loss of power is the number one reason for outages – at 24%. This may include an outage where the electricity goes out and equipment goes down immediately or where a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) device fails. If a generator or other redundant source of power is not available and you are unable to switch to an alternative power source before UPS device batteries runs out, you will be down for the count.
  • Cyber-Crime
    Close behind loss of power, the second biggest reason for outages at 22% is cyber-crime. This should be no surprise to anyone as it seems like we hear about a new cyber-attack every day. With the proliferation of malware and targeted phishing attacks perpetrated by sophisticated hackers, modern cyber-attacks can compromise entire networks. The recent WannaCry attack shut down businesses around the globe and caused many hospitals to scramble to recover critical patient data and resume ambulance and other emergency services.
  • Water
    We are not talking about water from a natural disaster such as flooding but water from leaking pipes or a building’s sprinkler system. Large server rooms are sometimes located in corporate office buildings which may be decades old and built to house offices and people first and servers and other hardware second. Water, rather than chemicals, is frequently used to suppress fires in these older buildings. Improper maintenance or accidental triggering of the system can cause major water damage and a large outage which could continue for hours or days if the equipment is destroyed.
  • Insufficient Cooling
    The cooling system is another component of a building’s infrastructure that is often installed with a focus on keeping employees cool rather than cooling a server room which can generate an incredible amount of heat. In addition to ensuring that the facility is sufficiently cooled, it is also important that you have extra equipment on hand to replace broken components as they fail and a plan in place to fail over to a backup system while you quickly repair the air conditioning before all the racks of equipment shut down.
  • A Failover System that Doesn’t Fail Over
    Whether your company has two servers or a whole room full of servers, you most likely have a failover system that starts up automatically in the event of an outage. The goal is to is to have all user traffic automatically transferred to the backup equipment without employees or clients ever aware that there was a problem. Unfortunately, these backup systems are often installed and then rarely thought of again until they are needed. Without regular testing, you won’t know if there is a problem until it is too late.
  • Running on Old Hardware
    When hardware is running properly, we tend to forget about. We ignore its age and spend our time on more urgent IT needs rather than working on a migration plan to replace outdated equipment with new hardware. Whether it is simply lack of planning or budgetary constraints, you are playing Russian roulette with your business. Eventually, equipment will fail.
  • Trying to Do Too Much
    Regularly scheduled maintenance usually has a standard list of updates, upgrades, patches and changes which need to be made but the To Do list for each maintenance window often gets longer and longer as unexpected or last-minute requests are submitted. Businesses routinely inform their employees and clients as to when the maintenance will take place but to stay within that window of time and provide the least amount of disruption to their users, administrators may rush through the process, overlooking important components or taking shortcuts to get the job done on time. This can result in server- or network-wide errors and outages which can take a long time to uncover and fix because of all the different changes which have been made at the same time.

Advantage of a Dedicated Data Center

Most system administrators, IT managers and directors of IT are focused in two specific areas:

  1. Management of day to day tactical IT activities such as on-boarding new employees and putting out the proverbial fire.
  2. Implementation of strategic corporate technology initiatives that will help the business achieve its future goals.

The challenge is to somehow accomplish daily responsibilities, put out unexpected fires, conduct continuous network monitoring, regularly maintain equipment, anticipate possible points of failure and maintain the server room’s physical structure, which is not one of their primary responsibilities, all at the same time.

Whether your business has 3 servers in a closet or multiple racks in a large server room, these challenges are the same. Traditional corporate office space does not contain the infrastructure required to consistently maintain 100% uptime and most IT teams do not have the resources to proactively monitor and maintain their facilities and equipment 24×7.

By choosing to move your IT infrastructure to a free-standing, purpose built data center, not only can you free up your team to focus on more long-term initiatives but also significantly reduce and even eliminate downtime.

Besides the cost savings that comes with the multi-tenant environment, data centers can take over all maintenance responsibilities and monitor your equipment around the clock. Built from the ground up with technology and data protection top of mind, data centers also have redundant backup systems for network access, sophisticated climate control, and their own power generators to ensure that all equipment stays up and running in the event of a storm or outage at the electric utility’s facility.

If your goal is to eliminate outages but continue to have your own IT team maintain your company’s equipment, a data center provider which offers colocation services may be the perfect solution. You can house your hardware in the data center’s facility and manage it yourself, while also taking advantage of the redundant resources they can provide.

Discover how Evocative maintains a continuous 100% uptime for all our data center clients. Call us at 888-365-COLO and take a tour of our facilities.

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