Enterprise Management Associates is constantly researching the issue of downtime, its causes and effects, and what steps companies can take to reduce the considerable financial and operational impact of planned and unplanned downtime.Today companies count on their data centers to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But no matter how well those data centers may be constructed and maintained, there will be times when applications and systems are unavailable.Planned downtime is by far the biggest reason why applications and systems are unavailable. By some accounts planned downtime represent 90% of the time a company's systems are offline. Typically, somewhat more than half of this planned downtime can be attributed to database backup. The maintenance, upgrading and replacement of application and system software, hardware and networks typically accounts for most of the rest of the time in this category.Planned downtime, by definition, can be anticipated. Despite the planned aspect of these interruptions however, even a minor modification can cause systems to be unavailable for an extended period. Thus, although companies spend a great deal of time and resources to accommodate planned downtime and often regard such interruptions as a necessary part of doing business, enterprises will always seek solutions that let them minimize and eventually eliminate them.Any analysis of a buy decision must include an understanding of not only the technical benefits of what a system can do for you, but also what the business benefits are.\u00a0Can your new system, for example, reduce - or even eliminate - planned downtime?Reducing planned maintenance can have impressive results. Eliminating a daily two-hour maintenance window on a system that supports a revenue process of $1,000 per hour adds $2,000 each day.\u00a0 Assuming a 24-7 business day, this one step will increase revenue by $730,000 per year.If you think this is a frivolous calculation, rest assured it is not.\u00a0 Almost every IT investment these days must be considered in terms of its impact on the business it supports. The only catch to using this in your analysis is that it requires the IT manager to have a solid understanding of how IT systems support business processes, and this is a set of information that most IT managers have not traditionally thought of as a necessary part of their knowledge set.Next time, we'll look at some issues concerning unplanned downtime.