Customers routinely demand “5 9’s” of availability from Information Technology service providers. A recent article in the Do IT Yourself™ newsletter examines costs and losses due to downtime and claims that in many cases, high availability is not warranted.
According to Hank Marquis, “Customers don’t understand what ‘5 9s’ means, but they do think that more ‘9s’ is better. ‘5 9s’ or 99.999% uptime means less than 5 minutes a year, of downtime. The cost to achieve these levels of availability in terms of increased expenditure on staffing, tools, and third-parties resources is staggering, and many times too many ‘9s’ actually cost more than it returns.”
Marquis, Chief Technology Officer at itSM Solutions LLC an IT coaching and training firm, says the main reason why customers demand high availability is because IT does a poor job of communicating the real cost of an IT outage in terms customers and business managers can understand.
Establishing formal Cost of Downtime metrics are the keys to communicating and thus better decision making. According to Marquis “business managers are not IT engineers, they don’t understand what technical IT metrics mean to them. IT has to work with customers and the business to design and deliver qualitative and quantitative models that illustrate what IT downtime actually means to the business so that the business can make informed decisions.”
Marquis provides several models exploring the cost of downtime, and explains how to establish a balance between the cost of achieving high availability and the business benefit high availability delivers. After establishing a Cost of Downtime metric, Marquis recommends that engineering decisions take into account a four-level design philosophy of increasing scope.
The article references research by Gartner, MetaGroup, DataQuest, Find/SVP, TechWise Research, ComputerWorld, and the IT Infrastructure Library or ITIL.
About the Author
Hank Marquis is a certified IT Service Management professional with over 20 years of practical hands-on experience managing, organizing, and optimizing IT infrastructures and organizations. Hank holds the ITIL IT Service Manager certification with Distinction in Service Delivery. He is the author of “How to Succeed with ITIL”, published by the Nichols Kuhn Group.