Since the dawn 21st century we have relied on technology and (more specifically) the internet to manage our daily lives. We have become so reliant on it in fact that it's almost impossible to imagine a world without it. Whether it's communicating with our friends and families or entertaining ourselves after a tough day at the office (or during a tough day at the office if we're feeling particularly dangerous), the internet has become ingrained into our shared culture in a manner its founders truly couldn't have anticipated. It's also become the primary infrastructure through which the majority of global business and economics is managed and governed, so when the data centres that keep the internet running fail, the ramifications can range from mild infuriation (online gaming blackouts) to outright disaster (a complete loss of livelihood!) As time moves on, our reliance on the internet only strengthens as we require more bandwidth, more often and at greater speeds and so the negative effects of data centre downtime will only increase. The burden placed on data centres is also consistently increasing and IT professionals strive to keep up with a perpetually shifting market. VirtualHosting.com has drawn up a handy info graphic below to explain the fiscal and logistical costs of data centre downtime but we'll first touch on a few of the potential causes.
The main cause of downtime is simple human error. In fact, 73% of problems within data centres is down to staff who have either not been given adequate training or are simply incompetent. The centres themselves are also susceptible to failure through faulty design or poor maintenance. These are the only possible causes that can in some way be prevented through more thorough training and through increasing the budgets given over to server design. The majority of the other common causes of internet blackout though are far more difficult to predict and almost impossible to prevent.
Living with the problem
Data centres form both the heart and the lifeblood of the world wide web and without them, we'd be completely lost. It's estimated there are around half a million currently in operation around the world and if just one of them ceased to function for a number of hours, the potential costs could be astronomical. Unfortunately however, for the foreseeable future, it would seem that the occasional data centre downtime is just something we're going have to learn to live with.
The yearly cost
Though many of the figures thus far have been purely speculative, data centre downtime is a problem that has real consequences now, with 46 million dollars in yearly losses within the fortune 500 companies due to the minimum of 1.6 hours of data centre downtime they suffer on a weekly basis. Just under 2 hours of internet downtime might not seem like a big deal on the surface, but take into account how much important data these companies deal with on a daily basis. Hundreds of thousands of gigabytes of data, a lack of access to which for even a short while can prove devastating.
Chris Hoole is a freelance copywriter living in the UK who has experienced more than his fair share on internet downtime.