The digitization of business processes has made the performance of any company to directly line up to the level of availability and efficiency of the IT infrastructure. Many times, however, the resources available in-house are not enough, and the investments – too expensive and difficult to pay off.

In such situations, turning to server colocation service providers is the right decision through which companies can avoid unplanned downtimes, performance drops of applications and services, and problems generated by not respecting compliance requirements.For any IT manager, avoiding unplanned downtime is a critical priority, regardless of the field of activity, the size of the company or whether we are talking about an internally operated data center or a Data Room.

Day-to-day practice has shown that even the simple “failure” of an email server overturn the activity of an entire company and generates dozens if not hundreds of internal complaints, until the situation is rectified.

In the case of a server in the production environment or a web server, the problems generated are much more critical, because every minute of non-functioning of services and applications translates into directly quantifiable financial damages, lost customers and business opportunities. And, last but not least, in the rapid deterioration of the company’s image, an inevitable phenomenon in the age of social media where nothing can be hidden.

The real problem, however, is that unplanned downtimes cannot be avoided if you rely only on internal resources, except at a cost that, in the vast majority of cases, is too high. The alternative is much more affordable and fast, by contracting a server colocation service provider, which offers contractual guarantees of availability and performance levels, as well as many other advantages.

Downtime forgives no one

The evidence that downtime does not forgive anyone is increasing every year. For example, in 2022, 60% of companies that participated in the annual study by the Uptime Institute reported that they experienced such incidents. And if we refer to the last three years, the average is about 70%. It is true, there is a decrease, but on the other hand, the amount of damage caused by unplanned server downtime has increased.

If we look at the evolution of the main causes that generate these situations, their hierarchy has not changed significantly in the last three years.

On top in 2022, as in previous years, are power supply issues, responsible for 44% of unplanned downtime (significantly up from 2020, when the percentage was 37%).

On the second place there are the network problems, 14%, stationary percentage, followed by those generated by IT systems (hardware & software), equal to those produced by cooling systems (both with a score of 13%).

Both in the case of network problems and those produced by IT systems, the main culprit remains the human factor and the configuration errors.

But let’s take them one at a time and look at how colocation service providers can help you overcome these challenges that any business faces.

1. Power outages

It is a well-known phenomenon, with increased frequency, for which there are prevention solutions, and which nevertheless still manages to create problems for many companies.

Explainable, on the one hand, given that very few internal data center operators – and even fewer of those who own a Data Room – can afford to have a redundant power connection, i.e. from another distributor/supplier electric power. The cost alone of bringing such a connection to the urban environment, where most of the facilities that would need such a thing are located, is prohibitive.

On the other hand, however, as I said, there are electro-backup solutions, i.e. to prevent downtime caused by the interruption of the electricity supply, mainly represented by UPS equipment and Diesel generators.

But the problem is, if we look at last year’s Uptime Institute statistics, that UPS failures are responsible for 40% of unplanned downtime, transfer switch errors for 27%, and generator problems for an equal percentage . If we draw a line and add up, it turns out that these three causes generate 94% of interruptions.

The causes are complex, and if we were to analyze them all, the space would not be enough. But let’s take a quick look at the UPSs, which, in order to function optimally, must be checked and serviced regularly. Fans, capacitors and batteries usually have to be replaced, which requires effort and allocated time, money and specialized personnel, difficult to find in the current context of the labor market.

The advantage of a server colocation service provider is obvious in this case – it has the entire infrastructure necessary to ensure the supply of electricity, benefiting from redundancy not only at the level of the main power connection, but also of the UPS network, of the n+1 type, n+2 or even 2n. And what’s more, it has specialized staff to monitor and maintain them, which few in-house Data Center or Data Room operators can afford. 

2. Human errors

Although not highlighted from the first in the cited study, human errors remain one of the main causes of unplanned downtime. For example, network equipment configuration errors are responsible for 45% of downtime cases. The situation is much worse in the case of hardware and software IT systems – the human factor is to blame for 64% of unplanned outages.

Overall, the Uptime Institute estimates, based on 25 years of analysis, that human error is the cause of at least two-thirds of unplanned outages (peak somewhere around 80%).

The analysis of human errors, in order to prevent their occurrence, is difficult to do, because numerous “subjective” factors intervene, ranging from the level of internal skills, the degree of team workload and, implicitly, accumulated fatigue (correlated with insufficient staff), to the level of difficulty of operating a certain type of equipment, its age, etc.

According to the cited source, the most common causes underlying human errors that generate downtime are:

  • Failure to comply with internal procedures – 47%
  • Carrying out incorrect procedures – 40%
  • Commissioning (27%) and installation (20%) problems.

The real problem, however, is the shortage of qualified personnel in this niche field, which is far greater than the general crisis facing the national IT industry. As a result, people who know and have experience in the operation and maintenance of a data center and even a Data Room are few, hard to find and hire and very “expensive”.

The problem with the shortage of qualified personnel disappears if you turn to a server colocation service provider. The reason is simple – the supplier can afford to hire and keep such specialists because it can optimally make them profitable by serving more customers. Thus, you no longer have to worry about how many people you have available, who can work and how much, what experience they have, etc., because by outsourcing you benefit from guaranteed services 24/7/365 at a contractually guaranteed quality level.

3. Hardware issues

Hardware also has its consistent share of blame for causing unplanned downtime. In the case of network equipment, hardware problems are responsible for 37% of cases, and in the case of IT equipment – ​​for 36%.

Prevention of these situations is complicated by several factors. On the one hand, because spotting problems in a timely manner and correctly diagnosing them requires monitoring – with dedicated solutions – and, again, skills.

Remediation generates other challenges, related to the level of availability of the part to be replaced, the manufacturer, the local service and maintenance partner, but also the budget available to a Data Center or Data Room operator. Because, not infrequently, the repair of an old, physically aged equipment becomes more expensive over time than a new generation one.

For example, UPSs with Li-Ion batteries perform better than classic ones with VRLA batteries, are more energy efficient, have a longer life, are smaller and come with an integrated intelligent monitoring system. But obviously, it costs more.

On the other hand, another aspect must be taken into account – the replacement of a category of equipment can generate a “chain reaction”, which in the end can turn out to be much more expensive than the initial investment. For example, the purchase of a new generation server with a high processing power comes with High-density requirements, which require a resizing of the power infrastructure, cooling solutions, UPS. All this means effort, money and in-house skills, which, as I said, are not easy to find. And in this case, calling on the services of a server colocation service provider is the optimal choice. Thus, when you want to change your server, you only have to pay its price and the fees related to its use in an external data center, where all optimal operating conditions are ensured. You no longer have to wrestle with identifying the right power and cooling solutions, installing them and – especially – depreciating them.

To sum up, when you turn to a colocation service provider, whether it is IT equipment colocation or server colocation, you eliminate almost all causes that can generate unplanned downtime. In addition, you also benefit from the possibility of accessing the backup services provided by it.

M247 has a colocation service offering specifically designed to provide safety, security, privacy and predictability. The offer is flexible, scaled at rack, traffic and IPS level – more details are available here.

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