Can an SMB Really Afford IT Downtime

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A recent blog post about the negative impact of a 1990s server room talked about downtime and its tremendous impact on any organization. It is now incumbent upon the IT team to do all it can to ensure that IT systems—and the infrastructure that supports them—are as reliable as possible. The spread of digital systems to every aspect of the business makes any service interruption a serious problem for all employees and many of your customers.

Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) depend on their servers, storage, and network equipment to keep the company running, but failures do occur. In many cases, these outages result not from the equipment itself, but the racks, cooling, and power infrastructure on which this equipment depends. Based on research from the Institute, cooling and power failures that result from outmoded rack or data center infrastructure cause more than one-third of all unplanned outages. However, an outage is more than just an interruption in business operations; it can result in substantial data loss.

From a high-level perspective, what happens if downtime results in substantial data loss? Gartner reports that an astonishing 43% of SMBs go out of business right after experiencing major data loss. And 51% permanently close their doors within two years. Only a mere 6% of companies survive. The odds are truly stacked against any organization that experiences this type of failure.

And the direct costs of downtime can be substantial. Another Ponemon report tells us that downtime can cost an SMB between $8,000 and $74,000 per hour. Plus, recovery time can be slow. Nationwide Insurance says 52% of SMBs would need up to three months to recover. Clearly the impact of unplanned outages that cause irretrievable loss of data is a game-changing event.

Finally, there is the impact on your customers. Even if you’re not a wholly web-centric business like Amazon, your customers will feel the pain. Your staff won’t have access to records or the information customers want, you won’t be able to service customers effectively, and in many cases, sales will be lost. What’s more, the reputational damage from this kind of event doesn’t go away quickly. Some customers may never come back, and some may stay away for months.

In terms of its impact on current and future business, an IT outage is the gift that keeps on giving.

One of the most important things an SMB can do to mitigate IT downtime is to ensure that the racks, cooling, and power systems that support your IT environment utilize the latest technologies and enhance reliability. Making sure that your backup power systems are not only functional but can support all hardware is essential. Cooling too is critical, as overheated systems typically don’t provide much warning before they shut down to prevent thermal damage. Compared to the downtime costs and other impacts, the investment in modern, best-in-class infrastructure to support your IT equipment is minimal. Too many organizations are betting that they’ll “get by.” But when something happens, remember: the odds of surviving are only 6%.

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