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What’s your IT department’s strategy for website downtime?

Sarah K. White | Sept. 9, 2016
Downtime doesn't just affect ecommerce sites. It can bring any business to a halt as IT workers scramble to find a fix.

It might even be something external or completely out of your control, such as issues with a third-party provider, a website host, or even "outages like the August 5th Google Compute Engine crash that took out thousands of apps hosted on GCE worldwide for more than 40 minutes," says Kane.

But there are measures that business can take to help improve website performance. The first step is to make it a business priority. For example, The Hackett Group Principal Scott Glenn points to creating KPIs for website maintenance so that IT can stay on top of the most important metrics. Once you decide what your website priorities are, you can start to form a plan.

"Good development teams have tools that they use to make sure their page works on most browsers and mobile platforms," he says. And these tools can help with smaller, more preventative issues, such as broken links or providing an option for a mobile site or the full-version.

Other measures include security strategies. While it may be impossible to predict and prevent every cyberattack, there are steps IT can take to ensure networks are up to date, secure and monitored.

Downtime is expensive

A study from Aberdeen and Dyn found that 60 percent of organizations estimated that the cost of just one minute of downtime averaged over $1,000. Some businesses report even higher numbers, with 13 percent of that group valuing one minute of downtime at $10,000 to $20,000 and 15 percent saying it costs their business $5000 to $10,000 per minute. And with 78 percent of organizations reporting four or more website disruptions per month, that quickly turns into a lot of money.

It's not only costly in terms of revenue, but also costly in terms of employee's time. The study found that 65 percent of organizations say it takes over one hour to fix website issues, with 29 percent of that group reporting it takes over three hours.

A publicity nightmare

Website downtime isn't just a 404-error, which are actually pretty rare in the world of website disruptions, according to The Hackett Group IT Transformation Practice Leader and Principal Mark Peacock. Rather, sometimes it's just one function on a website that breaks down, but still manages to wreak havoc.

"When websites experience problems, it's typically some function that is not available to end users. Delta Airlines' system outage at the beginning of August is a good example of this. A user could reach the website, but couldn't perform many of the key transactions because of outages in back-end systems," says Peacock.

And that can result in a publicity nightmare for companies, especially as your customer's expectations of your website increase. "For any lengthy duration of a complete outage, a business can almost guarantee some level of negative publicity through social media and even news outlets," says Glenn.


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