Imagine you’re working for a multinational corporation and you’re just about to send through a deal that will net your company millions, the deadline is minutes away. The progress bar hovers ever so slightly at around 97% before disappearing completely. You’re locked out of the internet and you have no other way of sending the information across. It’s these kinds of situations that can be the unfortunate consequence of data centre downtime, more of which are detailed in the VirtualHosting.com info graphic below.
Our heavy reliance on the internet in both our personal and professional lives is something that it is almost impossible to overstate. Everything from our banking to our personal information is now managed by online systems, systems that are governed by around 500,000 data centres worldwide that take up (in total) around 286 billion square feet. As more and more systems move online and computers begin using systems that require more bandwidth our reliance is only going to increase. In fact, last year the growth in demand for data centres was 63%, which means that by next year there will be closer to 600,000 centres in operation. Any disruption to these services could be potentially catastrophic.
It has been estimated that if every data centre in the world was to fall at the same time, the hourly cost to the global economy would be around $69 TRILLION. To put this figure into some context, that’s more than the combines gross domestic products of both Latvia and Kenya! It also might be shocking to discover just how much not only can be lost but how much actually is lost as a result of data centre downtime on a yearly basis. More than half of the fortune 500 companies suffer through an absolute minimum of 96 minutes per week, which equates to a loss of around 46 million dollars in labour costs. Take into account that this is a minimum figure and you begin to realise just how devastating downtime is and can be.
Data centre downtime is not uncommon, in fact more than half of the fortune 500 companies experience at least an hour of downtime per week and considering this leads to a loss of almost $46 million, it’s no laughing matter. Unfortunately however, the majority of the time, these ‘blackouts’ simply cannot be avoided, only prepared for. The most common cause is simple human error but it’s thought that squirrels might be one of the primary causes of data centre disruption. Natural hazards are also a prime cause. Earlier this year for example, the head ‘Amazon’ web services centre in Virginia was hit by a freak thunderstorm that resulted in almost 50 minutes of downtime. This lost then an estimated $4 million.
Whilst there is little that can be done to prevent natural disasters or rogue squirrels, IT professionals are working around the clock to make sure that the data centres of tomorrow are more reliable and resilient so that human error and problems caused by the centres themselves can be cut to an absolute minimum.
Chris Hoole is a freelance copywriter living in the UK and data centre downtime is something with which he unfortunately has a great deal of experience. VirtualHosting.com has provided him with hours’ worth educational information and it has slowly made its way into his bookmarks bar as a result!