Aug 15 2014

Managing the Cost of Network Downtime

A new survey found that agencies lose an average of $178,000 when downtime prevents employees from doing their jobs.

We’ve all experienced it: The frustration that comes when you’re in the middle of an important job and a network outage or a lost Internet connection brings everything to a halt.

For teleworkers and employees who spend most of their time outside of the office, downtime can prevent them from accessing job-critical documents and collaborating with colleagues via the Internet. To be productive, they find work-arounds, like the consumer version of Google Apps; use their personal devices; revert back to pen and paper; or are left with no choice but to sit and wait. “In the last month, 70% of agencies have experienced downtime of 30 minutes or more,” according to a new MeriTalk study underwritten by Symantec.

People complained about the recent Facebook outage, but imagine what a network outage or a lost connection could mean for law enforcement agents, intelligence analysts or embassy and consulate staffs overseas. Both security and productivity could be affected.

MeriTalk found that agencies lose an average of $178,000 when downtime prevents employees from doing their jobs. Downtime in one agency can cause complications for other federal agencies, state and local agencies and the private sector.

The survey found that having real-time access to information and applications saves the average federal worker 17 hours a week, or 816 hours per year, in productivity. These numbers are based on a “52-week calendar with 10 federal holidays and two weeks of vacation.” When an outage occurs, employees say they want IT departments to:

• Be more proactive.

• Communicate more effectively on anticipated downtime.

• Have a working disaster recovery plan and redundancies for critical systems.

• Increase network speed and reduce latency.

• Prioritize duties based on operational impact.

What IT Professionals Say About Downtime

MeriTalk also included responses from 150 IT professionals who are familiar with their agencies’ data centers. While 80 percent said data center reliability is a top priority, only 19 percent are fully confident in their department’s ability to meet the most critical service-level agreements for uptime and business continuity needs if a network or server fails.

One in three IT professionals said their agency does not have a continuity of operations or that their current plan is insufficient to respond if a data center is shut down for an extended period of time.

As if IT departments weren’t under enough pressure to meet users’ needs, IT workers have to work under budget pressures, security policies and limited bandwidth and storage and with senior leaders who don’t understand the importance of data centers, the survey highlighted.

The survey offers a few tips for the IT workforce:

Improve disaster management. Feds must implement sufficient COOP plans, improve failover times, and decrease the time it takes to get data centers back up after a disruption.

Invest in agile infrastructure. IT pros believe that the first steps they must take to become more agile are to increase bandwidth and security measures.

Open the lines of communication. Agencies must encourage communication between end users and IT pros – especially during downtime. Agencies must also educate end users on the importance of following security procedures.

A Network Computing article by Joel Dolisy, senior vice president, CTO and CIO at SolarWinds, offers additional tips for avoiding network outages.


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