Beating the downtime blues

Veeam Pty Ltd

By Don Williams, Vice President, ANZ, Veeam
Wednesday, 08 June, 2016


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Organisations need to do better at bridging the availability gap — the difference between what users demand and what IT departments can deliver.

With business transformation being driven by a new breed of user — one that desires a seamless, connected experience — the ability for modern enterprises to deliver non-stop services and continually innovate has never been more urgent. However, are today’s businesses delivering on what users need? How does one deliver the always-on enterprise? In simple terms, it must eradicate downtime.

Downtime can mean different things to different people, and the impact of downtime can also vary from organisation to organisation. If unplanned downtime does occur, then organisations should have systems in place that reduce or remove entirely their availability gap — the gap between what users demand (ie, 24/7 access to critical applications and data) and what IT departments can deliver. However, are enterprises able to deliver the levels of availability needed by today’s user?

To answer this, Veeam commissioned 1140 interviews with senior IT department decision-makers (referred to as ITDMs or respondents) across 24 countries and compared them, where appropriate, to 630 interviews with ITDMs carried out in 2014. 30 of the interviews were with ITDMs in Australia and New Zealand.

Globally, Veeam’s research discovered that 84% of ITDMs — 2% higher than in 2014 — admitted that their organisation has an availability gap. To combat this, most organisations are investing in their data centre, with two-thirds (68%) doing so specifically in order to enable 24/7 always-on operations. What is alarming is that despite the investment, the average number of unplanned downtime events reported in ANZ has increased from 10 in 2014 to 13 in 2015.

The result of these increases is that the average annual cost of downtime to a global organisation can be up to US$16 million — that’s US$6 million higher than in 2014. In addition, application downtime can have an impact that goes beyond financial loss — the majority report that confidence in the organisation (68%) and brand (62%) can also suffer.

What this study clearly illustrates is that despite senior ITDMs understanding that availability is of paramount importance, and that investments are being made, the reality is that service levels are falling short. Users are demanding a crisp, seamless experience, but instead they are having to deal with services that are below par… and this is costing enterprises millions of dollars in lost revenue, productivity and brand reputation.

The majority of customers (70%) across ANZ have reported that the key drivers for minimising application downtime and guaranteeing access to data are more frequent real-time interactions between a company’s customers, partners, suppliers and employees. This figure is contrasted with 63% globally.

Taking steps

Today’s users — whether employees in the workplace or consumers at home — are immersed in technology and have zero patience for applications and data not being available. Thus, delivering a seamless experience is pivotal. Business leaders need to challenge traditional thinking and really ask themselves whether their operations are truly up to this task. If the answer is no, then they need to be prepared to feel a user backlash.

Business decision-makers (BDMs) should find out what their end users need from an always-on enterprise. These needs should be communicated to the IT department. But to support the IT department in this, BDMs need to encourage their organisations to invest in their data centres and continue planning further investment.

As many as 97% of ANZ businesses (compared with 84% globally) either agree or strongly agree that they have an availability gap and are not achieving the SLAs for recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) required to close this gap. SLAs for RTOs have been set at 1.6 h, but respondents admit that in reality, recoveries taken 3 h. Similarly, SLAs for RPOs are 2.9 h, whereas 4.2 h is actually being delivered.

Globally, respondents report that their organisation, on average, experiences 15 unplanned downtime events per year. This compares to the average of 13 reported in 2014. With this, unplanned mission-critical application downtime length has increased from 1.4 h to 1.9 h year on year, and non-mission-critical application downtime length has increased from 4 h to 5.8 h.

ITDMs should be establishing the SLAs they need to deliver the services that users require, and work towards reaching them. But this cannot be achieved overnight and ITDMs cannot do it alone. BDMs need to support their organisations’ IT departments in improving availability. This journey must be started soon if availability is to be improved, and the impact of downtime minimised, in the near future.

An enterprise’s journey on this path must not just sit within the IT department; the C-suite need to be fully engaged, as the cost of doing nothing can be millions of dollars. Executives must understand the risks to both the bottom line and the brand of not being an always-on enterprise — they must become active sponsors of the drive to deliver the always-on experience users demand.

With this support, IT departments have to challenge legacy, status-quo attitudes within the data centre. Traditional backup and recovery solutions will only go so far — they are not appropriate for the evolving digital business and are definitely not able to provide the 24/7/365 levels of immediacy reported in this study.

Simply put, enterprises need to ask themselves one question: do I want to prosper in this new, digital economy, or fade away into extinction?

Image courtesy under Christopher Bowns under CC BY-SA 2.0

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