Have you ever thought what a minute of your time is worth?

Let’s say you get paid $60 an hour – then one minute is worth $1. If you are reading this, then, my bet is you are probably willing to spend $1 waiting for an answer. Chances are you will wait much longer, especially if it’s on someone else’s dime. But, how long is too long to wait?

If you run a 911 response center (emergency phone service in the USA) then one minute of downtime is not measured in dollars but lives. Maybe you are the IT manager of a financial company, how many credit card transactions could you lose in one minute? One hundred? One thousand? Maybe many more.

In both these and many other commercial examples, the cost of downtime is both known and quantifiable. Businesses not only perform risk assessments on downtime but also, they make business decisions to avoid it. In 2011, eWeek reported a business could lose an average of about $5,000 per minute in an outage. As they say, “at that rate, $300,000 per hour is not something to dismiss lightly.” Given that, I think we can all agree for critical business applications – uptime is pretty important to many business and now, to me too.

This week, I start a new job as chief marketing officer at Stratus Technologies, one of the world’s leaders in ensuring up-time for your applications. You will find our software and servers behind many things you use day-to-day and you would be pretty upset if they didn’t work. Examples would be supporting credit card transactions and 911 services. What makes this role interesting is not just these types of services, but also, how our solutions apply to others. Let me give you an example.

I was sitting in the Austin airport waiting to board the first of two flights that would take me to Boston, my new home.  I wanted to let my friends on Facebook know that I had started my journey so I thought I would check-in on Foursquare – which automatically updates Facebook. Foursquare is down.

I wait until Dallas (I am changing through DFW – one of the downsides to Austin) and Foursquare is still down. When I arrive in Boston, hours later, Foursquare is up, so I check in. Of course, I could have given up on Foursquare and just checked-in on Facebook. In the cloud, there are often alternative ways of doing things.

This may seem like a trivial example, especially compared to a 911 service, but if you are Foursquare and in search of a business model, I suspect this is not good news. As that social site looks to monetize its platform, my guess is it will use ads. I need to be on the Foursquare service to see the Ads. Another outage like this and I will not be on the service. The reality is it may not have been the site’s fault, it maybe the service provider’s fault, but as a user, I don’t care.

Just a few weeks ago, in the CIO section of the Wall Street Journal, they reported “Netflix Amazon Outage Shows ‘Any Company Can Fail’.” Forrester Research analyst Rachel Dines is quoted as saying, “It’s all about timing. This was a big deal because it was one of the worst possible times it could happen as families gathered during Christmas to watch movies.” OK, so families could have talked to each other, but you get the point and there are plenty of other alternatives to Netflix.

What excites me about Stratus Technologies was not just how our technologies applies to established commercial businesses but to these new cloud-based services. I have no doubt that as cloud applications become more important in our lives, Stratus Technologies will have a critical role to play in making them available all the time.

For now, I have a lot to learn about the business and I look forward to blogging about it as I go.