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The top causes of downtime explored

Quorum has published results from its ‘Quorum Disaster Recovery Report, Q1 2013,’ which details findings on the most common causes of system downtime.

Culled from Quorum's hundreds-strong global customer base, the findings reveal that, while natural disasters tend to take center stage when considering the causes of downtime, hardware and software failures and human error are statistically more common. In fact, hardware failures alone comprise more than one-half of disasters for small to mid-sized businesses, according to the report. And given it takes an average of 30 hours for recovery (according to IT managers), small to mid-sized businesses are at risk of losing customers, their reputation and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.

The four most common causes of system downtime were:

Hardware failure
At 55 percent, hardware failure is the number one cause of downtime for small to mid-sized businesses. With several levels of redundancy of various components — such as multiple power supplies, network controllers and hard drives — it may seem like your bases are covered. Still, like any other disaster, no one can predict when the air conditioning will fail on a hot day, what unforeseen event will trigger a widespread power outage, or which cords the resident rodent will chew through.

Storage-area network (SAN) failures are among the hardware-failure disasters many small to mid-sized businesses experience. It's common for these businesses to have a large SAN, and all storage servers virtualized onto that SAN. Unfortunately, this means that when the SAN dies, a company's entire environment dies with it.

Human error
According to the report 22 percent of disasters are caused by human error. This could include accidentally wiping out a file system on a server. While something like this may be considered a ‘rookie move,’ it's not necessarily relegated exclusively to rookies. An executive of a private healthcare center in Florida, for example, has (more than once) deleted her entire mailbox. Thanks to her choice to deploy a disaster recovery system that takes incremental snapshots of the center's servers, this executive was able to recover valuable correspondence and avoid certain personal disaster.

Software failure
Software failure ranks third in overall disasters at 18 percent, and it's no wonder, given the number of patches routinely sent out. The issue lies in the lack of attention to testing patches before they are sent out, resulting in corruption of applications that can bring down entire systems or make them otherwise unavailable.

Operating systems that have been limping along for some time and finally die also contribute greatly to software failure. And we cannot overlook the impact viruses and malware have, of course.

Natural disasters
Since tornadoes, earthquakes and the like are often the first that come to mind when we consider the word ‘disaster,’ it's ironic that natural disasters comprise a mere 5 percent of actual causes of downtime. Still, their effects are obviously without parallel.


•Date: 11th Feb 2013 • US •Type: Article • Topic: BC statistics

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