What 99.999% Network Uptime Really Means for Your Business Blog Feature
Kaylie Gyarmathy

By: Kaylie Gyarmathy on May 30th, 2018

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What 99.999% Network Uptime Really Means for Your Business

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With the mass exodus from private network infrastructure to cloud computing, business leaders are always focused on finding vendors that can meet their performance requirements. One important discussion point revolves around the 9s of uptime and protecting against the risk of downtime.

Often called "five 9s" for the literal number of digits, 99.999% uptime refers to a desired percentage of availability of a given computer system or data center. At five 9s, such a system would largely be considered a high availability network or data center. But the notion of having a network that’s available 99.999% of the time is a bit too abstract.

What five 9s of availability really means is, over the course of a year, you should expect to experience 5.39 minutes of total downtime – planned or unplanned. The table below shows the conversion of percentage uptime to expected annual downtime:

Uptime Percentage (# of 9s)

Annual Downtime

99.9% (3)

8.76 hrs

99.99% (4)

52.56 min

99.999% (5)

5.26 min

99.9999% (6)

31.54 sec

99.99999% (7)

3.15 sec

Even with a more comprehensible conversion into time, the actual financial impact of downtime takes the understanding a step further.

The True Cost of an Outage

A 2015 IHS study found that network outages cost enterprises $700 billion a year. Gartner estimated that businesses lost an average of roughly $300,000 per hour of downtime. ITIC has conducted an annual independent survey since 2008 to measure downtimes costs. The results showed that the average cost of one hour of downtime has risen by 25% to 30% over the years. Moreover, three in 10 enterprises indicated that an hour of downtime cost their business at least $1 million.

81% of organizations require a minimum of 99.99% availability, according to the ITIC survey. At nearly 53 minutes of unplanned downtime, those businesses are losing an average of over $260,000 a year (using Gartner’s estimate). Below is an update of the above chart using Gartner’s estimated hourly downtime costs.

Uptime Percentage (# of 9s)

Annual Downtime

Avg. Annual Cost

99.9% (3)

8.76 hrs

$2.63 million

99.99% (4)

52.56 min

$262,800

99.999% (5)

5.26 min

$26,280

99.9999% (6)

31.54 sec

$2,628

99.99999% (7)

3.15 sec

$262.80

Of course, the exact cost of any unplanned downtime is dependent on a number of factors unique to your business and the nature of the issue. Your industry, revenues, number of people impacted and the time of day and duration of your outage will all impact how costly it will be. Businesses that handle many high-level data transactions such as banks and online retailers suffer significantly-higher losses than companies in other industries. If you experience unplanned outages during peak traffic times, you can also expect the financial repercussions to be more costly.

Downtime comes with another steep cost that’s even harder to quantify – the cost of losing customers. If a customer feels that they can no longer rely on you, they’re apt to find a competitor they can depend on. While there’s no predicting how many customers you might lose from an outage, it will clearly put a dent in your bottom line.

How to Choose a Partner that Can Meet Your Requirements

Partnering with a vendor that can provide seven 9s or better will best safeguard your network performance and minimize your cost of downtime. What degree of risk are you willing to take on? Whether you feel comfortable with five 9s or seven 9s, you’ll need to know how to decipher which partners are best able to meet your uptime requirements.

Unplanned outages don’t always come crashing down between nine and five. Having technicians on site at all times to check systems and conduct daily maintenance ensures that action can be taken swiftly to address any issues. Your partner should also accept support tickets in emergency and non-emergency situations.

Responsiveness is one thing; proactivity is another. To protect against unanticipated spikes in power consumption and network bandwidth, your partner should implement proactive measures to mitigate the risk of outages. The most reliable partners harness the power of intelligent platforms that predict your traffic and power spikes, helping to optimize load balancing and the timing of maintenance efforts.

This software – coupled with circuit and infrastructure thermal imaging – also informs data centers when to replace equipment, safeguarding against unexpected breaks. Integrated systems testing also helps vendors ensure that their data centers are prepared for outages in the event that they do occur, much like a fire drill. For example, a data center will shut down its main power supply to ensure that its servers continue running seamlessly on backup power. Some of the most proactive providers perform manual cleanings above and under equipment to ensure maximum server efficiency as well.

The more proactivity a data center takes, the greater likelihood that they can actually meet the uptime reliability they claim. After considering the number of 9s outlined, conduct your due diligence on potential vendors to assess which are most capable of meeting your needs.

In your research, you may find that a hybrid cloud model is the best strategy for maximizing your network performance and costs. If you want to learn how your business can maximize its uptime and minimize its cost, download a copy of our informative multi-cloud eBook.

Multi-Cloud Data Center Architecture

 

About Kaylie Gyarmathy

As the Marketing Coordinator for vXchnge, Kaylie handles the coordination and logistics of tradeshows and events. She is also responsible for social media marketing and brand promotion through various outlets. Kaylie enjoys creatively developing new ways and events to capture the attention of the vXchnge audience. If you have a topic idea, feel free to reach out to Kaylie through her social platforms.

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