May 15, 2014

What is Downtime?

heartbeat-e1395676774646.jpgSome cloud hosting companies will pitch their business toting ‘uptime’ standards or a zero downtime track record. Reliability is one of the cornerstones of any hosting solution, but what does it really mean? According to Merriam Webster, downtime is a time during which a machine is out of action or unavailable for use. We define downtime as any period of time that IT resources/data cannot be accessed or used, negatively affecting workflow. If your organization is not using cloud computing as an IT management method this particularly applies to you, as you are likely employing a “break-fix” IT model which can result in excessive downtime. In the information age, this could mean catastrophic results for your business, including:

Adverse Customer Interactions

If yours is the type of organization that must interact with its customers every single day, most of those interactions are likely to be digital. When you shut down the system, lose power due to inclement weather, or encounter a critical system bug, the gears stop turning and the business stops breathing. This could mean that customers who are trying to contact you are unable to do so.

Lost Sales/Memberships

If you’re familiar with the terms ‘word-of-mouth’ or ‘third-party verification’, you know these are fundamental marketing concepts that usually work with you to grow your business. When you experience downtime and cannot conduct business, both of these concepts suddenly shift directions and will result in a crippling blow to your credibility. Furthermore, if you hinge your entire growth strategy on organic growth and existing clients telling their friends, then it is imperative that you maintain positive control of that relationship. And in this day and age, it is nearly impossible to do so without an Internet connection. So yes, if your system goes down for whatever reason, you will forego sales and member interactions. But think about the secondary and tertiary effects on your word-of-mouth campaign. Would you vouch for an association or company if they are regularly ‘unavailable?’

Negative Cashflow

Although the financial implications of putting your business on hold are obvious for some, it is important to note that while you are scrambling to fix a problem, the bills are still coming in. You are still “paying to light the place” even though most of your time, energy, and dollars are spent trying to fix an issue. The simple microeconomic implications of the situation can indeed be catastrophic and in most cases, businesses have a safety-net in place. Is your safety net prepared to catch your entire IT infrastructure? In sum, downtime occurrences hurt businesses in more ways than one. It is important to recognize that cloud providers each have their own definition, and history, of downtime and to thoroughly evaluate each prospective provider on these standards. For questions regarding cloud computing for associations, institutions, or businesses, please visit Cetrom.

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