Understanding the uptime dilemma – what business leaders need to know


In every business today, downtime matters. If networks or applications unexpectedly crash, downtime can have a direct impact on business operations, customer satisfaction, and ultimately the bottom line of an organisation.

According to Gartner, downtime costs businesses on average $5,600 per minute, and can cost as much as $4,320,000 in an eight-hour day. But what exactly is uptime? And how does it differ from availability? And why should business leaders know or care?

What’s to know?

Uptime is described as a measure of system reliability, expressed as the percentage of time a machine, typically a computer, has been working and available. This means that a system is ready for operation. By definition, this does not mean that all the necessary applications and services are ready for use, and that the “network” service, for example, is available in the expected bandwidth.

Whereas, availability is the probability that a system will work as required when required during the period of a mission. Looking at the production environment, the difference between uptime and availability can best be compared with OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) and TEEP (Total Effective Equipment Performance). These consider all events that bring down the production environment.

Why does it matter?

It’s important to understand the differences to know whether certain business KPIs have been met. For example, the uptime of the IT infrastructure – an important KPI in many companies and IT departments – can remain unchanged after a failure where availability of applications and services suffered.

And the reality is, in today’s digital worldno business is immune to downtime. However, it is possible for businesses to mitigate the risk of downtime, on their way towards maximum uptime. And to do this, organisations must remember that the network is a vital business asset, and maintaining maximum uptime and availability is the highest priority.

Avoiding the downtime trap

Underpinning uptime, and downtime, is the network. The function of a network is really quite simple; it moves data from a transmitting device to a receiving device. Problems occur when something disrupts the communication between these devices on the network. It is therefore vital that businesses can understand what’s happening on their networks to accurately recognise and diagnose networking problems with the goal of keeping their networks running optimally.

For organisations today, there are a few very simple methods to reduce risk and keep a network flowing:

  • Plan for the worst –business leaders must take time to understand the impact of downtime, and prioritise the assets and tools needed to keep business functions running
  • Test everythingdon’t wait for downtime to strike before testing out contingency plans. Testing is essential best practice for implementing new tools and processes, but also as part of regular IT hygiene protocols
  • Get proactive –to keep business operations and processes running smoothly, 24x7x365 monitoring and notification systems are required to detect the various problems, failures, and performance issues before they have a chance to affect employees or customers
  • Be alert –increasingly organisations are turning to network monitoring to quickly and efficiently deal with any problems that may arise. Using alerts and testing results, monitoring provides the ability to determine exactly why data is not travelling as expected and then find a solution.

By George Wilson, Director of Operations, APAC, at Paessler AG – PRTG Network Monitor