The Leading Causes of IT Outages - and How to Prevent Them
November 04, 2019

Mark Banfield
LogicMonitor

Share this

IT outages happen to companies across the globe, regardless of location, annual revenue or size. Even the most mammoth companies are at risk of downtime. Increasingly over the past few years, high-profile IT outages — defined as when the services or systems a business provides suddenly become unavailable — have ended up splashed across national news headlines.

In March 2019, Facebook and Instagram each experienced 14 hours of downtime. A second IT outage struck both — along with WhatsApp — in April 2019, taking all three platforms offline. And in July 2019, all three platforms experienced availability problems that impacted users. British Airways has also faced a series of high-profile IT outages in the past, including one in April that resulted in 100 canceled flights and 200 delayed flights. An outage back in May 2017 also affected more than 1,000 flights, call centers, BA's website and BA's mobile app.

Given all of these recent disruptive and costly outages, LogicMonitor decided to investigate the causes behind downtime, commissioning an independent study investigating the major causes of downtime, the business impact of outages on organizations, and ways to avoid IT outages and brownouts. The IT Outage Impact Study involved surveying 300 IT decision-makers across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

Outages Lead to Compliance Failures and High Costs

The number one and number two issues were concerns about performance and availability

Among other insights, the survey revealed the top 5 issues keeping IT decision makers up at night. The number one and number two issues were concerns about performance and availability, beating out security and cost-effectiveness worries.

Unfortunately, those self-reported fears about IT teams' ability to maintain availability are well-founded. In fact, 96% of global survey respondents reported that their organizations had suffered at least one IT outage over the past three years. Such outages can have serious implications, including steep costs and low customer satisfaction scores. Heavily regulated industries, such as healthcare and finance, face another dire consequence beyond service disruptions and costs as a result of outages: compliance failure.

"One of our clients is a radiology company, and they need to be up 24/7," said a service desk support engineer for a solution provider. "If they have more than an hour of downtime a year, probably less than that, that's a serious issue. These guys can never go down, for legal reasons."


Human Error is #1 Cause of IT Outages in the US and Canada

The study found that human error was the #1 cause of IT outages in the United States and Canada, and the #3 cause globally. Given this finding, it was no surprise that Network World covered the story of British Airways' May 2017 outage under the headline, "British Airways' outage, like most data center outages, was caused by humans."

The Network World article describes how an engineer working onsite at a data center near the Heathrow airport disconnected a power supply. When the power supply was reconnected, a surge of power caused the outage. The article also cites a 2016 Ponemon Institute study, which found that human error accounted for 11 percent of outages, more than weather (10%), generator failures (6%) or IT equipment malfunction (4%).

Faced with findings like this, it's no wonder that global IT decision makers said 51% of IT outages are avoidable. As a result, more and more teams worldwide are transitioning to monitoring tools that incorporate AIOps and automation to minimize human error and maximize early warning opportunities.

Monitoring Helps Prevent Outages Through Early Warning Systems

Comprehensive monitoring provides visibility into IT infrastructure and can help organizations get ahead of trends that indicate an outage may be rapidly approaching. The top two causes of outages, according to survey respondents, are declining hardware/software performance and IT teams' failure to notice when usage reaches a dangerous level. Artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) and intelligent monitoring offer an effective solution to both of these outage factors.

To minimize your organizations' outage risk, look for monitoring solutions with the following capabilities:

■ A platform that offers a holistic view of your IT systems via a single pane of glass and integrates with all your technologies

■ A tool that builds in a high level of redundancy to eliminate single points of failure

■ A platform that provides early visibility via an early warning system into trends that could indicate future trouble

■ A solution that is able to scale with your business as it grows, making sure your current and future monitoring needs are met.

Mark Banfield is CRO at LogicMonitor
Share this

The Latest

May 21, 2020

As cloud computing continues to grow, tech pros say they are increasingly prioritizing areas like hybrid infrastructure management, application performance management (APM), and security management to optimize delivery for the organizations they serve, according to ...

May 20, 2020

Businesses see digital experience as a growing priority and a key to their success, with execution requiring a more integrated approach across development, IT and business users, according to Digital Experiences: Where the Industry Stands ...

May 19, 2020

Fully 90% of those who use observability tooling say those tools are important to their team's software development success, including 39% who say observability tools are very important ...

May 18, 2020

As our production application systems continuously increase in complexity, the challenges of understanding, debugging, and improving them keep growing by orders of magnitude. The practice of Observability addresses both the social and the technological challenges of wrangling complexity and working toward achieving production excellence. New research shows how observable systems and practices are changing the APM landscape ...

May 14, 2020
Digital technologies have enveloped our lives like never before. Be it on the personal or professional front, we have become dependent on the accurate functioning of digital devices and the software running them. The performance of the software is critical in running the components and levers of the new digital ecosystem. And to ensure our digital ecosystem delivers the required outcomes, a robust performance testing strategy should be instituted ...
May 13, 2020

The enforced change to working from home (WFH) has had a massive impact on businesses, not just in the way they manage their employees and IT systems. As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, enterprise IT teams are looking to answer key questions such as: Which applications have become more critical for working from home? ...

May 12, 2020

In ancient times — February 2020 — EMA research found that more than 50% of IT leaders surveyed were considering new ITSM platforms in the near future. The future arrived with a bang as IT organizations turbo-pivoted to deliver and support unprecedented levels and types of services to a global workplace suddenly working from home ...

May 11, 2020

The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the world. From augmented reality advanced analytics to new consumer solutions, IoT and the cloud are together redefining both how we work and how we engage with our audiences. They are changing how we live, as well ...

May 07, 2020

Despite IT professionals' confidence in their ability to support today's much greater dependence on digital services, there is a rise in application performance errors reported by more than half of consumers, according to the Impact of COVID-19 on Digital Transformation survey from xMatters ...

May 06, 2020

The new normal includes not only periodic recurrences of Covid-19 outbreaks but also the periodic emergence of new global pandemics. This means putting in place at least three layers of digital business continuity practice ...