Downtime refers to the time when computing resources are unavailable to the enterprises for business operations. The cause of downtime may be hardware or software glitch, a natural calamity or just a power outage. Downtime may be planned downtime or unplanned downtime. Whatever the kind of downtime, the reality is that downtime has revenue and cost implications. Small and medium enterprises with budget constraints cannot afford it. Even large enterprises always try to minimize planned downtime to save on costs. As a result, costing downtime has become a major exercise in most organizations. With cloud computing and online backup services in enterprise IT, costing of downtime-real time becomes a necessity.
System outages can have a serious impact on industries that access their computers 24 x 7 x 365. Others may be sensitive to the time of the outage. Peak hour outages can cripple business and have long-term repercussions on the business. The cost of downtime can at best be estimated.
Medical informatics, nuclear power stations, banks and other financial institutions, aeronautics/airlines, news and journalism; e-commerce and transaction processing or even online games industries would immediately feel pressure of downtime. A minor downtime in these industries could prove to be disastrous, as existing customers experience frustrations and may consider canceling their services; and would-be-customers could end up avoiding this particular service.
Many contract defaults could be attributed to system downtime, resulting in litigation and financial losses. These industries need to ensure high availability, reliability and alternate data access routes to safeguard against business losses, resulting from unplanned downtime.
Online backup service providers are cognizant of customer concerns on costs of downtime. Service level agreements with their customers mention the percentage value of downtime that they expect over the period of a month. 0% downtime indicates that the backup service provider has made arrangements to ensure that the customer has no system outages and the access to the server is made available at all times. Customers will, therefore, have to guard only against outages that may occur at their end of the network.
Online backup service network administrators monitor downtime-real time using sophisticated network monitoring tools. A real-time downtime record of all outages is automatically made into the system log for analysis and correction. The system is programmed to generate alerts whenever there is a failure. Failover servers are programmed to seamlessly take over the service while repairs are carried out to correct the problems in the main server.
Help desks and trouble-shooting services offered by online backup services enable the customer alert his service provider about any and every possible system difficulties that they may encounter in the use of the service. Trained service engineers are immediately deployed to assist the customer is evaluating and setting right the problems encountered. Network management systems are used by service providers to detect faulty hardware components and proactively rectify them. Risk management techniques are used to determine the impact of downtime on different sizes of organizations and actions that may be required to counter the ill effects of downtime real-time.