How much does an hour of downtime cost your company? How much does a day cost? How about two? Working for a Managed Service Provider (MSP), this is a question that is asked in almost every discussion I have with small businesses owners/leaders and the usual reply is something like “good question, I will have to get back with you on that” or “ I don’t think we know how to calculate that number”. Fair enough. In the past, many business processes were manual, or downtime was just baked into the equation.
The rise of cloud computing and the advantages it can bring small businesses are enormous. Now, local companies can operate with the same speed and agility by utilizing the same tools and technologies that were typically only available to the Fortune 1000. Creating online storefronts, product catalogues; marketing and outreach programs, etc. are now relatively easy to accomplish using today’s public cloud environments. Now, companies in the SMB space rely heavily on technology and transacting business over the web. Keeping these systems that are now core to their businesses up and running is critical…right?
Now, back to the question about how much downtime costs. The question that usually proceeds that question is “what are you doing for DR?” Which is often times met with “I’m not sure exactly, let me check with my local IT guy, Bob”. Translation…there is no DR plan. Even though they have probably had downtime within the last year (statistically, 80% of all businesses have at least one outage a year), they can’t/don’t quantify the impact in lost revenues. The downtime is typically explained as a “glitch” or “one-off issue”. The reality is there are many reasons for downtime and unfortunately, few of them occur on a set schedule. Increasingly, many companies are considering DR as a way of protecting their mission critical business functions and data from unplanned outages.
So why would a small business invest in a sound DR plan?
- Part of Sales Cycle: Interestingly, in the B2B space many companies are demanding that their vendors have DR plans in place. Sections on DR and/or Business Continuity are now common in RFP’s and often times companies are asked to share their plans prior to signing agreements.
- Outages – natural and man made: Events like Hurricane Sandy, debilitating ice/snow storms, floods, etc. get much of the credit, or blame, for unplanned outages and for good reason. They are often massive and garner plenty of attention from the media. Often under reported are outages by companies like Telco’s, and Internet providers. Typically, these outages are for a few hours, but if they occur multiple times in a year, can impact customer experience, your brand, and ultimately your bottom line.
- System Failures: Even with the best laid designs and plans, machines break. In most cases, today’s SMB companies’ infrastructures are not designed with full redundancy. 99% of all IT professionals have experienced a hardware failure, so downtime is all but inevitable.
There is good news. Protecting your business against unplanned downtime has never been easier, or cost-effective. Microsoft Azure, AWS, VMware, Google, IBM, HP, etc. are all in the public cloud market offering DR solutions for the SMB market. This means increased choice and I expect the prices to continue to decline. Moreover, there are an increasing number of MSP’s that have infrastructure expertise and can help you identify which public cloud provider solution makes the most sense for your business needs. Additionally many of these MSP’s can help you design, implement, manage and support DR solutions, typically with a low monthly management fee. Now, business leaders can feel confident that their businesses are protected, and in a competitive position to take on the completion.