Always on call: How organisations can effectively avoid an IT meltdown

We live in a digital world, and it’s becoming more and more apparent every day. From maps to rideshare apps, ‘availability’ has become our most valuable commodity. However, it is also difficult to maintain, even for the world’s largest enterprises. But what is availability?

Availability, the state when an organisation’s IT infrastructure is functioning properly, is critical when it comes to operating a successful business. In contrast, outages occur if the services or systems that a business provides suddenly become unavailable. When these services or systems remain available but slow down significantly, this becomes a brownout.

A glance at the headlines shows that high-profile outages and brownouts happen all the time. In fact, just last week, several Australian banks reported online outages which left clients unable to access funds. According to research, 89% of ANZ MSPs have experienced a brownout or outage in 2021 – recording five on average throughout the year.

Performance and availability are important issues, ranking above security and cost-effectiveness. After all, it doesn’t matter if your IT infrastructure is secure or saving your organisation money if it’s not up and running the way it needs to be. The reality is, the more reliant we are on tech in our daily lives, the more impactful IT outages become.

A lack of communication, automation and preparation can turn an after-hours IT outage into a full meltdown instead of just a minor hiccup, putting not only the firm’s bottom line at jeopardy – but customer trust. We explore how ANZ leaders can avoid an IT meltdown, even after-hours to ensure availability and reliability are ingrained in business strategy:

Why availability matters – The cost of rampant downtime

An IT system outage is much more than an inconvenience. If not immediately addressed -, it can lead to a cascade of negative impacts on clients, employees and other stakeholders.

Outages and brownouts are some of the leading factors keeping ANZ IT decision makers up at night. However, while firms appear keenly aware of availability and performance and have actively voiced concern, has this meant businesses have taken a proactive approach to addressing downtime or is this a sign many are struggling to maintain availability?

The answer unfortunately points to the latter, according to a study of global IT decision makers, 51% of outages and 53% of brownouts are believed to be avoidable. In fact, ANZ reported experiencing outages the most frequently out of all regions surveyed – sitting at a concerning 69%. The cost of downtime is extensive, impacting the business as a whole.

Organisations face costs associated with lost revenue, compliance failure, productivity and recovery expenses. Beyond this, significant risk lies in business and individual reputation. In Australia and New Zealand, 63% of IT leaders say they are likely to experience a major brownout or outage so severe it makes the media, while the same percentage reported being worried someone might lose his or her job as a result of downtime.

Why are organisations experiencing downtime?

Despite IT decision makers recognising the risk of outages and that more than half of instances being labelled as avoidable, why does downtime continue to happen?

The importance of reliability begins in the design phase, leaders must start infusing potential failover mechanisms in the initial set-up of software and IT infrastructure. Systems must be able to withstand a myriad of challenges including network failure, increased usage spikes and surges, software malfunction and storage failure.

However, a key contributor to downtime to consider is human error. Installing a zero-tolerance policy towards any anomaly or alert across the IT architecture is a critical tool to future-proofing your IT platforms. In fact, failure to notice when the usage of IT systems are escalating towards a dangerous level, or when crucial hardware and software performance trends downwards, are often missed opportunities for preventing downtime.

How to avoid an IT outage – even after hours

With the consequences of an IT outage or brownout clear, there are several tools and approaches firms can implement to prevent or mitigate fallout. It is key to comprehensively identify and address the gaps in your systems, particularly when it comes to visibility. Consider the infrastructure as a whole and whether employees are able to view and control the enormous complexity and volume of data that a business creates outside of siloes.

Embracing comprehensive monitoring through a platform that monitors across the IT architecture can allow you to view the systems through one unified lens. When doing so, it’s critical to select a platform that integrates with all tech to allow for easy transition.

From there, leverage the solution you put in place and act on the trends revealed in your monitoring data. Go beyond simply recognising data, it’s key you utilise data to forecast a solution and to prevent outages by identifying areas for future failures.

Key to this monitoring approach is the ability to scale your visibility. With digital innovation continuously introducing new technologies or accelerating cloud migration, it’s imperative your monitoring solution is able to keep up with these changes in the future. Therefore, selecting a scalable platform that evolves alongside your business is key to optimising these solutions and allowing information technology teams to work smarter, not harder.

As firms prioritise their digital platforms, understanding the areas in which outages occur and proactively preparing for the fallout can help mitigate a total system meltdown into a minor hiccup. To get ahead, IT leaders must begin to install not only a culture of zero-tolerance, but build and adopt the technologies available for around-the-clock monitoring.

Richard Gerdis is the Vice President & General Manager, Asia Pacific & Japan at LogicMonitor.

Richard Gerdis, Vice President, APJ at LogicMonitor