Avoid Business Disruption During an Outage

By: Fran Howarth| - Leave a comment


Business disruption caused by downtime and network or service outages can seriously impact any business, hampering productivity, costing revenue through lost sales and damaging the organization’s reputation. In 2016 alone, downtime cost U.S. businesses $700 billion, according to IHS.

The Culprit: Legacy Infrastructure

One of the reasons why organizations experience outages is that their network infrastructure has been built up piecemeal over the years and is now aging out. This phenomenon has plagued a number of industries recently, including financial services, telecommunications and airlines.

In recent years in the U.K., the banking sector in particular has been hampered by outages, leading the Bank of England to insist banks modernize their infrastructure to avoid disrupting essential services for customers. In the telecommunications sector, BT has heeded the call, investing just over $1 billion per year in infrastructure to improve service levels, BBC News reports. BT is weathering the storm for now, but whether that will be enough to prevent further outages remains to be seen.

The airline sector has also seen significant disruption caused by legacy infrastructure. Delta Airlines suffered an outage in August of this year, according to Business Insider, but press reports show the company was able to avoid a disaster by taking immediate action to repair the damage and get systems up and running again with minimal time lost. Delta also communicated with passengers affected by the outage in order to avoid further damage to its reputation.

JetBlue, too, was recently able to avoid serious repercussions during a data center outage due to clear and frequent communications, according to a separate report from Business Insider. Although passengers were temporarily inconvenienced, the company’s share price didn’t suffer from the incident — in fact, it rose.

Avoiding Business Disruption in the Cloud

Many organizations are moving some applications and parts of their infrastructure to the cloud to aid innovation, reduce costs and provide much needed modernization, allowing IT to be run in a hybrid environment. But cloud-based systems can still experience disruptions. Several public cloud operators have experienced highly publicized outages in recent years. In June 2016, an weather-induced outage at a cloud hosting provider nearly caused havoc for Australian real estate giant REA, but the organization emerged relatively unscathed, while other businesses weren’t so lucky. REA attributed its ability to effectively handle the incident to the fact that it had designed its services with failure in mind, implementing a multiavailability setup that ensured its most critical systems would run across multiple regions, including Germany and Australia.

Netflix also experienced a business disruption caused by outages at its cloud provider. The online-streaming titan found it had to design systems to handle failure from the very start, with redundancy layered into applications at the development stage so that fail-over could be easily and smoothly handled.

Build In Resiliency by Design

Taking a cue from REA and Netflix, organizations should build resiliency into their applications and infrastructure and ensure that their resiliency strategy covers all environments, both cloud and on-premises.

Be proactive about business continuity in the cloud, and take those needs into account at the design stage. Cloud service provider outages are rare, but no company can expect a provider to handle all the details of fail-over and disaster recovery without any help from the customers themselves. In addition, data should be stored across multiple zones, with each component of the infrastructure fully redundant. Business continuity is too important to be left to chance.

A hybrid cloud environment brings many benefits, but it also introduces new complexity, and organizations have to plan accordingly. By building in resiliency by design, companies will be better prepared to weather any storm and avoid costly disruptions.

Topics: , , , ,


About The Author

Fran Howarth

Freelance Writer

Fran Howarth is an industry analyst and writer specializing in cybersecurity. She has worked within the security technology sector for more than 25 years in an advisory capacity as an analyst, consultant and writer. Fran focuses on the business needs for security technologies, with a focus on emerging technology sectors. Current areas of focus include cloud security, data security, identity and access management, network and endpoint security, security intelligence and analytics and security governance and regulations. Fran can be reached at fhowarth@gmail.com.

Articles by Fran Howarth
See All Posts