Downtime prevention is becoming a top priority for organizations across all market sectors — from manufacturing, building security and telecommunications to financial services, public safety and healthcare. What’s driving this requirement for always-on applications? It’s partly due to the rapid expansion of users, environments, and devices. Increasingly, however, organizations require high application availability to compete successfully in a global economy, comply with regulations, mitigate potential disasters, and plan for business continuity. All these factors contribute to a growing demand for high-performance availability solutions to keep applications up and running.
The good news is that there are many effective availability solutions available on the market today including standard servers with backup, continuous data replication, traditional high-availability clusters, virtualization and fault-tolerant solutions. But with so many options, figuring out which approach is good enough for your organization can seem overwhelming.
Understanding the criticality of your computing environment is a good place to start. This involves assessing downtime consequences on an application-by-application basis. If you’ve virtualized applications to save costs and optimize resources, remember that your virtualized servers present a single point of failure that extends to all the virtual machines running on them, thereby increasing the potential impact of downtime. Depending on the criticality of your applications, you may be able to get by with the availability features built into your existing infrastructure or you may need to invest in a more powerful and reliable availability solution — perhaps one that proactively prevents downtime rather than just speeding and simplifying recovery.
But availability level is not the only factor to consider when selecting a best-fit solution to protect your applications against downtime. Stratus has created a Downtime Prevention Buyer’s Guide to streamline the evaluation process and, ultimately, help you make the right choice of availability solution. The guide presents six key questions you should ask vendors along with valuable insights into the strengths and limitations of various approaches. You can use vendors’ responses to objectively compare solutions and identify those that best meet your availability requirements, recovery time objectives, IT management capabilities, and return on investment goals, while integrating seamlessly within your existing IT infrastructure.
What do you do when your availability solution isn’t good enough?
The good news is that transitioning to our always-on technology couldn’t be easier. One of Stratus’ hallmarks is that your application will require no additional changes to get the level of availability we provide.
How’s that possible? In the video below, Jason Andersen explains how application transparency makes it easy for you to make the switch to Stratus.
Watch more videos by visiting our Stratus Technologies YouTube page.
Last week Stratus Technologies sponsored our 10th Rockwell Automation Fair event. Over the last ten Automation Fairs the emphasis on IT infrastructure has grown dramatically. Ten years ago IT infrastructure was hard to find at the show, but this year all the elements of modern IT infrastructure were on display.
It’s clear the Connected Enterprise is driving adoption of information solutions and hence the need to host more applications in larger and more complex infrastructure at the plants. We had an exciting demonstration at the Stratus booth. We demonstrated a suite of Rockwell software and a terminal server, managed with ACP ThinManager, all running on the fault-tolerant Stratus ftServer platform. With the help of ACP we also demonstrated zero client displays including a couple iPads. It was pretty cool and the benefits of a virtualized infrastructure were easy to see.
Even with all the benefits of virtualization I was still surprised at how quickly industrial customers are adopting the technology. A survey of our tech session attendees showed that virtualization has achieved significant adoption in the industrial space with over 50% indicating they had used it in their production environments.
In the latest entry in our video series, Jason Andersen explains some of the challenges surrounding good enough availability solutions.
He discusses how a lot of these out-of-the-box solutions become complex when organizations start to add-in different storage mechanisms, and how they’re often difficult to manage for businesses that don’t have an advanced IT skillset. These good enough solutions also tend not to recover at a high rate, which could pose huge problems to organizations that need always-on applications to capture data in real time.
Watch more videos by visiting our Stratus Technologies YouTube page.
Lots of good statistics about the causes, costs and next steps that companies can utilize for understanding their risk and potential costs related to downtime, so they can procure additional funds to protect against future availability issues.
Let’s take a quick look at the high level findings published in the Infographic.
91% still experience downtime
33% of all downtime is caused by IT equipment failure
IT equipment failure is the most expensive outage (23%). Twice as high as every other except cyber crime (21%).
Average length of downtime is still over 86 minutes
Average cost of downtime has increased 54% to $8,023 per minute.
Based on these statistics, 30% (33% of 91%) of all data centers will have downtime related to IT equipment failure. Assuming they only have one incident of the average length, they would incur $689,978 (86 x $8,023) in downtime related costs.
Stratus can address 33% of the most costly downtime with our fault-tolerant hardware and software solutions.
52% believe the outages could have been prevented. This makes sense, because 48% is caused by accident and human error. Only training, personnel changes or outsourcing can improve that cause of downtime.
70% believe cloud is equal or better than their existing availability. That’s if you don’t look too close at the SLA details (i.e. excluding “emergency maintenance” or downtime only counts toward SLA if over xx min per incident). Certainly most cloud providers can provide better than the 99.98% [(525,600-86)/525,600] availability these data centers are currently averaging (assuming only one incident of average length). But remember, all SLAs are limited to the cost of the service, which I assume is far less than the almost $700k downtime related cost most in the survey have realized.
Cloud solutions are constantly improving; but we continue to hear from our customers that availability still has a long way to go, especially when it comes to stateful legacy workloads that don’t have availability built into the application like native cloud apps. Of course, this is something that we at Stratus are working on.
I say look into availability options and invest upfront in the best availability you can afford, it might not pay dividends upfront, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Because $50k spent on availability might be worth $700k in related costs, not to mention headaches and tarnished reputation.
If you are an IT decision maker looking for application high availability and business continuity, Stratus acquisition of Marathon Technologies is relevant to you.
Stratus, the company known for products and services that keep mission-critical applications up and running all the time, announced on Monday the acquisition of Marathon Technologies. Marathon’s specialty is software-based solutions for high availability, fault tolerance and disaster recovery. Its everRun MX is the world’s first software-based, fault tolerant solution that supports multi-core/multi-processor Microsoft applications; The addition of the Marathon everRun® product line, the world’s first software-based, fault tolerant solution to support multi-core/multi-processor Microsoft applications, further solidifies Stratus’s position as the leading provider of availability solutions.
We welcome Marathon’s customers, channel partners and employees to the Stratus community. Stratus is the leader in high availability and fault tolerant solutions for both software and hardware whether in a physical or virtualized cloud environment.
You can read our recent announcement at here.
Stratus Technologies’ high-availability (HA) Stratus Avance Software 3.0 now includes support for Intel Xeon E5 “Sandy Bridge” processor-powered servers. This is an exciting development for companies that use Intel Xeon E5 servers manufactured by HP, IBM, Dell and Intel, as Avance software proactively detects and prevents downtime and ensures that their applications run without interruption.
Avance software is the only HA solution that automatically detects, isolates and handles faults, keeping applications running despite system interruptions. Avance software constantly monitors system heartbeat and the health of drives, fans, power supplies and other system components to predict faults and performance degradation. This system management dashboard gives the IT administrator detailed configurations and alert information as well as guidance on resolving issues.
This next generation of Avance can support up to 24 virtual machines (VM) on a single licensed HA server platform, a 50 percent increase over its predecessor. The improvement in VM density can lower operational, maintenance and management costs by enabling more consolidation of servers and applications.
This is also an important development for our channel partners. Frank Vincentelli, chief technology officer at Integrated IT Systems, a computing services firm and Stratus4Uptime channel partner, feels the development is critical to maintaining healthy relationships with customers. “Adding IT talent is expensive and application downtime is disruptive, and our clients very much want to minimize both,” he said.
Avance 3.0 software is an organization’s best protection against unplanned downtime and data loss for their most important applications. Avance proves that HA can be simple to achieve and manage, and affordable to implement in organizations of any size. No other HA solution offers more.
Some additional features of the newest release include:
- Support for Intel Modular Server (IMS) systems, built on Intel Multi-Flex technology, to create a HA blade platform between two IMS chassis
- Faster snapshotting to reduce VM back-up time and downtime exposure
- System manageability enhancements that improve the user experience
Complete product details are available here.
If a burglar broke into your home, you might be motivated to install a security system. The same goes for downtime. Every year, downtime robs companies of thousands, if not millions of dollars, and in this day and age, with more and more businesses moving to the cloud, the issue of downtime is becoming a bigger problem. This past Monday, the International Working Group on Cloud Computing Resiliency reported that since 2007, a total of 568 hours of downtime at 13 large cloud service providers have caused an economic impact of more than $71.7 million.
Throughout the course of any given week, a wide variety of businesses are impacted by planned and unplanned downtime. While industry type may vary, the consequences do not. It’s shocking to see how many businesses are robbed by downtime. Yet, they don’t seem to grasp the detrimental effects of an outage. Stratus has conducted surveys with ITIC that have found most businesses don’t adequately calculate the cost and affects that an outage will have on their business, whether it be qualitative or quantitative.
The following results from our latest survey illustrates why some businesses don’t know how much downtime actually steals from them:
- 29 percent of businesses don’t consider customer dissatisfaction as a contributing factor to their cost of IT downtime.
- 38 percent of businesses don’t factor in damage to their company’s reputation.
- 81 percent of businesses omit goods and materials lost from their cost of IT downtime calculations.
- 45 percent of businesses don’t consider lost sales in downtime cost.
It’s time to put a face to downtime so companies recognize why they need to take action. And speaking of action, I’ll leave you with this statistic: last year Stratus had an average of just 81 seconds of downtime across our installed base of 8,000 servers.
To learn more about how much downtime cost your business read our latest analyst report.
I confess that I have never been one to embrace new technology right away. I want to make sure something has usefulness to me. (Does it solve a problem or provide new capabilities?). Can I afford it? (Does it come at a reasonable price?). And, does it deliver quality? (Does it do what it is supposed to do? Does it operate reliably? Does it have a long product life?)
From a consumer electronics standpoint, my measuring stick has been my older brother. If he finally decided to invest in a new product; be it iPod, blue ray, or Kindle, then I knew it had passed muster in all of the dimensions that were important to me and I could invest without hesitation.
Which brings me to the subject of solid state disk drives. Certainly the solution has been around for some time, many years in fact. However, it was specialized and limited only to the applications that were willing to pay a substantial premium for the increased performance delivered by the memory (and don’t forget all of the supporting aspects designed to protect the volatile memory from failure and associated data loss).
Just in the last few years, solid state disk technology has undergone a dramatic transformation. With the advent of non-volatile memory (the same type that’s in my brother-recommended iPod) the price for the new drives has dropped sharply, helped by economies of scale while delivering equal or better performance than their predecessors.
But that still doesn’t answer the question of quality. Do these operate reliably? Do they have a long product life? How mature is the design? What is the difference between multi-level cell (MLC) and single level cell (SLC)? And most important, what is their track record in mission-critical environments?
If only I had an older brother for new information technology products.
As it turns out, I do. Enterprise solid state disks are now available on fault-tolerant Intel-based servers that run the most demanding applications in the world. Be it high-volume stock transaction or payment-processing applications, rugged military deployments, or emergency 911 dispatch systems that lives depend on, these systems deliver near 100% uptime anytime, anywhere. The solid state disks deliver the same blazing fast performance and lower TCO, but also the backing of a company whose only mission is to provide the best uptime assurance in the industry.
If solid state disks are good enough for a fault-tolerant server, then I’m convinced they are ready for prime time.
The average manufacturing IT system will experience 3.6 instances of downtime at a cost of $65,830 annually, according to a recent readership survey conducted by IndustryWeek magazine for Stratus Technologies.
“The statistical results are a good indication as to why the response to this email survey was so strong; the persistence and punishing cost of IT systems downtime are very much on the minds of plant operations management,” said Dave LeClair, director of product management & marketing, Stratus Technologies. “As high as these costs appear, our experience in manufacturing suggests these calculations understate the true financial impact and include only the more obvious cost factors, such a labor and reduced volume. In reality, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
More than five hundred IndustryWeek readers responded to the March 2012 survey. The magazine tabulated results by annual revenue categories – less than $100 million, $100-$999 million and above $1 billion – and by the average of all respondents. Results were as follows:
|Annual Revenue||Average Cost per Downtime Incident||Average Downtime Incidents Annually||Total Annual Cost of IT Downtime|
Source: “Manufacturer IT Applications Study,” March 2012, IndustryWeek magazine
Only three out of seven respondents said they have a strategy in place for high availability computing! The percentage of manufacturers with annual revenue of more than $1 billion that said they have a strategy (41 percent) was nearly twice that of those with revenue of less than $100 million (23 percent). Larger companies also used IT technologies better suited to ensuring high availability than did smaller firms. Despite these preparations, large manufacturers are still losing nearly $150,000 annually from IT system downtime.
The full survey results will be presented during a webinar hosted by IndustryWeek on May 31, 2012. NetSuite’s GM of Manufacturing/Wholesale & Distribution, Roman Bukary, and Stratus’ Director of Global Alliances, Peter Cook, will discuss the results of the survey, provide insights into what manufacturers are currently experiencing with regard to downtime, and offer some best practices to prevent it. To pre-register for the webinar, visit http://bit.ly/IHZxLA.