Data centers and other critical IT systems have become more and more reliable over the years. Despite the progress that has been made in this area, interruptions and downtime seem to be increasing. Almost one third (31%) of the survey's respondents said that they had had to contend with an IT interruption or malfunction in the past year, compared with just 25% one year earlier. One possible reason for this is that IT systems have become increasingly complex and interdependent.

The chief causes of interruptions in IT services are power cuts (33%), followed by network problems (30%) and software bugs (28%). Failures at third parties operating in hybrid environments (such as hosting or cloud providers) are also a factor. Fortunately, two out of three (68%) respondents make frequent backups at a second location so that they can make a quick recovery if problems arise.

Surprisingly, 43% of the data center operators and IT practitioners that had had to contend with a malfunction had not calculated how much the incident had cost them. The costs can quickly mount up, however, as IT plays a critical role in more and more areas of business. Half of the reported incidents had cost less than $100,000 (around €90,000), but 15% of the interruptions had caused damage valued at more than $1 million.

As always prevention is better than cure, and 80% of respondents said their most recent interruption could have been prevented. This may indicate that most of the problems were caused by the respondent's way of working rather than by the infrastructure or equipment.

At LCL, we regularly test our backup systems – which are designed to be fully redundant – and we invest in staff training as well as in infrastructure upgrades. We turn off the power supply every month to check that our generators automatically take over. When maintenance is carried out, we plan everything meticulously in advance in order to prevent incidents. All of these measures ensure that we are prepared to deal with unforeseen situations. Moreover, the fact that we have three locations (Diegem, Antwerp and Aalst) makes it easier for our customers to prepare for disaster recovery.

Further information: Uptime Institute data shows outages are common, costly, and preventable (June 2018).

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