Downtime is inevitable and can happen to even the most advanced and largest companies. If you are unprepared to deal with it, it could have catastrophic consequences on your MSP business. In today’s demanding business climate, where clients and end users alike expect a seamless experience across all channels, downtime can have you lagging behind your competitors. Therefore, having a robust IT infrastructure in place is a must to deliver uninterrupted service that your clients can rely on.

What Is Downtime?

Downtime refers to a period when business operations are stopped or interrupted due to IT failure, cyberattacks, network outages, natural disasters or human error. Unlike planned downtime, unplanned downtime, as the name suggests, is hard to anticipate and can happen when you least expect it. That said, with the right BCDR solution, you can prepare for downtime and mitigate its impact on your business in the event it does occur.

Downtime is a real threat to not only your business but your clients’ business as well. Therefore, understanding the basics can help prevent downtime and maximize productivity.

What Causes Downtime?

Downtime can happen due to several reasons that range from hardware/software glitches to sophisticated cyberattacks. Keeping a close watch on each of these can be a daunting task. However, understanding what causes downtime and how it affects your business can go a long way towards devising effective strategies to minimize it.

According to the Infrascale survey, the leading causes of downtime include software failure (53 percent), cybersecurity issues (52 percent), hardware failure (38 percent), human error (36 percent), natural disaster (30 percent) and hardware theft (24 percent).

  • Software Failure: Downtime due to software failure is not uncommon in business and it isn’t surprising that multiple patches are released regularly to repair flaws or security vulnerabilities. Software failure can be the result of using an outdated program, inappropriate patching or poor patch management, or a virus or malware that can corrupt the entire application.
  • Cybersecurity Issues: Cyberthreats continue to grow rapidly and a single security incident could potentially bring your company to a standstill. Today’s cyberthreats are increasingly complex and hard to detect. They can easily bypass security measures by exploiting vulnerabilities and disrupt business operations. 
  • Equipment Failure: Hardware failure is one of the most common causes of unexpected downtime. Equipment failure can be due to variations in temperature, voltage surge, accidental damage, moisture, incompatible firmware, dust accumulation or vibration.
  • User Error: Human error is arguably the top reason for downtime. A simple error like accidental deletion of data can turn into an expensive mistake. While it’s hard to avoid, most errors happen due to negligence or failing to follow the standard procedures set by an organization. Regular employee training on security challenges and well-documented policies and procedures can help reduce human error.  
  • Natural Disasters: Unplanned outages due to extreme natural events like floods, hurricanes and earthquakes can disrupt communications network, systems and services. Without a business continuity and disaster recovery plan in place, it can take days or even weeks to recover and resume normal business functions.
  • Server Failure: Downtime due to server failure can be catastrophic for your business since it supports mission-critical applications and software that your employees rely on to perform their day-to-day job functions. Today, most businesses conduct operations online and as such, a moment of server downtime can result in lost productivity, sales, revenue and opportunities.
  • Network Outages: Network outages or downtime can happen due to several reasons such as poor cable management, human error, device misconfigurations, outdated components, cyberattacks or natural disasters. Network downtime can impact business operations, employee productivity and can ruin your relationships with clients.

How Much Does Downtime Cost a Business?

Downtime is expensive and the damage associated with it increases depending on the amount of time it takes to recover. The longer the duration of downtime, the greater the damage to your business.

According to a survey conducted by Statista, 25 percent of respondents from around the world reported that the average hourly downtime cost of their servers was between $301,000 and $400,000.

The cost of downtime can vary depending on the size of your company and industry vertical. As per the IDC survey, the average cost of an infrastructure failure is $100,000 per hour and the average total cost of unplanned application downtime per year is $1.25 billion to $2.5 billion.

The Infrascale survey revealed that 38 percent of respondents surveyed don’t know what the cost of downtime per hour is for their businesses. Knowing how much downtime can cost your business is vital and can help you make informed business decisions to improve your IT infrastructure.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to calculate the true cost of downtime to understand how it will impact you and your clients’ business.

The Impact of Downtime

In today’s always-on business environment, a downtime event can leave a lasting negative impact on your MSP business. Without a comprehensive business continuity strategy, downtime can not only disrupt normal business operations but also put you and your clients out of business.

Impact of Downtime on MSPs and Their Clients

  • Business Disruption: Unavailability of mission-critical data and systems due to downtime can hinder day-to-day business functions and impact service delivery. Customers today are demanding and have less tolerance for delays and downtime. Downtime caused by hardware, software or server failure will not only cripple your business but also impact your clients who rely on you to keep their business up and running.
  • Lost Productivity: Given that businesses today heavily rely on technology and data for their work, when these services are inaccessible due to downtime, it results in lost productivity. During such circumstances, your employees and clients don’t have any other option but to wait for systems to get back online to resume work.
  • Lost Revenue: Downtime can impact your MSP business and your clients in more ways than one. Apart from business disruption, lost time and productivity, you could also suffer huge monetary losses resulting from lost opportunities and legal fines.
  • Damaged Reputation: Downtime is bad for both your business and reputation. While some of the effects of downtime are short term, depending on the intensity, frequency and duration of downtime, it can have long-term effects on your brand. Rebuilding your reputation and winning back your clients’ trust will cost you much more than time, money and effort. Dissatisfied clients and bad reviews can drive away potential customers, resulting in lost business opportunities.   
  • Data Loss: The fear of data loss exists with every downtime incident. Data loss can happen due to cyberattacks, not having a backup solution, server outage or accidental deletion. Downtime due to any of these reasons, leading to unavailability of critical data resources, can halt business operations. A data loss incident can result in lawsuits, hefty legal fees and regulatory penalties for non-compliance.

MSP Strategies to Minimize Downtime

When it comes to business and downtime, every minute counts. Downtime is an idle period when employees are unproductive, unable to serve clients or generate revenue. A prolonged downtime event can have devastating consequences on MSP business and their clients. Despite the catastrophic effects of downtime, it’s concerning that many businesses are unprepared and do not have proper backup policies and procedures in place due to lack of financial resources and skilled IT professionals.

Fortunately, MSPs are here to help. MSPs are responsible for not only protecting their business and data but also ensuring their clients’ data is securely backed up and protected as well. To minimize the impact of downtime and maximize uptime, MSPs must have a complete BCDR solution that can help quickly recover their clients’ data and get them back online with minimal or no disruption.

Maximize Uptime With Unitrends MSP

Unitrends MSP Unified BCDR platform is a complete, automated and affordable solution for MSPs. Our single, all-in-one platform is purpose-built for MSPs and comes with enterprise-class backup, ransomware detection and cloud-based business continuity. Our solution enables MSPs to protect and recover all data and systems regardless of where they live — on-premise, in the cloud, in SaaS platforms or in remote locations.

Unitrends MSP Unified BCDR solution can help improve technician efficiency and boost margins while also ensuring your clients’ data is securely backed up.