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Surbiton, Surrey, United Kingdom, 2006/11/21 - Thousands of SMEs could be putting their business at risk due to web downtime because they have not negotiated a Service Level Agreement with their Internet Service Provider (ISP) warns business internet services company Lumison - Lumison.net.
The company has issued five top tips to help SMEs minimise the risks of web downtime when choosing a web hosting service.
Lumison’s warning follows a recent outage at Demon when customers had no web hosting for over five days. Over 80 per cent of SMEs are now online and increased dependence on web hosting services for a growing range of mission-critical business applications means that they are particularly vulnerable to web downtime says Aydin Kurt-Eli, Lumison’s CEO. He explains:
“The recent outage at Demon highlights the importance of choosing the right service package from your ISP. Many customers will not have realised until last week that their hosting was being provided without a Service Level Agreement. Whilst most simple web hosting is provided on a “best-effort” basis, customers have to decide whether five days of down-time constitutes a “good-enough” service.
“SMEs need to understand that while it is almost impossible to guarantee 100% uptime, the right service agreement can help minimise the risks of downtime. This is why it is so important for customers to understand the risks and rewards associated with their hosted service package.”
1. Ensure the right technology is in place
While it is almost impossible to guarantee 100% up time, there are two simple questions that will help ensure that you have access to the best technology which will mean as little downtime as possible:
i. Ask your provider how they maintain their servers. They should have scheduled server downtime when the operating systems are upgraded
ii. Ask your provider if their system has a load balanced infrastructure. The answer should be yes, with content switches, multiple servers and clustering so that individual server failures have minimum impact.
2. Choose a service that meets your business needs
Getting the right service from your ISP is crucial. It really is a case of you get what you pay for. For example a low-cost virtual hosting service will not normally include an SLA, so it may be worth considering a dedicated hosting solution which will provide dedicated 24/7 support as part of the SLA. If your ISP is hosting your website only, then you may be able to tolerate your website being down for a day or two. But if you rely on your internet connection for sales and access to essential systems then any downtime will cost money therefore you need an ISP who takes an outage as seriously as you do.
3. Get a service wrapper
Technology and systems do go wrong. The question is what will your ISP do when it does? Therefore, getting the right service wrapper is essential. You need to ensure that your ISP has the right customer and technical support services so they can be as responsive as you need them to be. Find out how long its takes them to answer your call when you have a problem and ascertain if they will put you through to a call centre or straight through to an expert engineer. At Lumison, we have a 24/7 manned, fully qualified technical support centre which has an average call response time of six seconds.
4. Check out references and stats
Don’t be afraid to ask for references and statistics. Of course, your ISP is going to tell you that they have very little downtime and a fantastic service so check out existing customers and ask them what they think the service is like. It is also interesting to find out about customer churn, as a good ISP should have low churn.
5. Be prepared
Downtime does happen so you need to be prepared. All SMEs should have a simple plan in place to deal with outages. Again this comes down to whether your ISP will work with you to fix hardware or network problems within a fixed period of time, or offer compensation if they can’t.
Find out their definition of downtime; it should start when the service goes down, rather than when the customer reports a problem. Finally, make sure you clarify that breach of SLA is breach of contract and therefore allows you to move (at no cost) to another ISP.
Lumison (umison.net) provides reliable and cost effective Internet access and hosting solutions to SMEs and large corporations across the UK. Lumison is one of a few Business-class ISPs in the UK to own and manage its own data centre facility, providing high quality network, co-location and web hosting services.