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The Dangerous Cost of Network Outages and Downtime

On Friday, September 13, 2013 cloud computing service Amazon Web Services experienced a network outage, causing companies from small start-ups to enterprises such as NASA and Netflix to experience service disruptions.

The following month, the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) network used by the Department of Social Services failed, putting thousands of people who receive SNAP nutritional assistance from the Federal government at risk for not being able to use their cards to buy food and access benefits.

What do these incidents have in common? They are examples of how disastrous a network outage can be for any business or agency. These problems were fixed fairly quickly, but not before countless individuals and companies experienced losses of time, revenue, productivity, and security.

Any time a portion of a company’s network is unavailable or fails to work, it results in an inability to connect to the network or to perform basic functions. This is known as downtime, and it can spell disaster for any company, small or large, that depends on the availability of applications and data over an Internet-enabled network.

A network outage, even one that is short lived, can have long-lasting repercussions on a business, its employees, and its customers, for example:

Lost revenue: When employees can’t access the network, they can’t get information, service customers, share and collaborate, or perform other functions they need to do their jobs. If customers or clients are unable to log on to a network to get information or purchase services and products, you can lose significant business. Finally, IT hours spent troubleshooting and repairing an outage come with a high price tag. In fact, the average cost of downtime per hour for all businesses is estimated at $212,200 and only six percent of businesses survive severe data loss, according to a recently released infographic from data and network services company MegaPath titled “The Cost of Downtime.”

Damaged reputation: Even though the outage may not be due to negligence or error on the part of you or your employees, your customers and others who depend on your network might not see it that way. If their frustration level rises and trust erodes, they make take their business elsewhere.

Productivity slowdown: As employees, managers, customers, salespeople, analysts, and others who depend on the network are suddenly cut off, work comes to a near standstill until the problem is corrected.

Breached security: Network outages can take down firewalls and other safeguards. This can leave a network unsecured, making it a prime target for hackers, phishing, and other threats.

So how can companies mitigate the risk of downtime? A network monitoring solution that keeps tabs on network flow and application performance can alert IT to slowdowns or other anomalies before they turn into problems.

Network hardware is often housed off-site in a data center and data and applications are accessed from around the globe. A solution that monitors and manages network performance can give IT a window into every piece of the network at once, allowing them to identify and troubleshoot problems, avoiding costly outages.

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