What Does ‘No Downtime’ Really Mean?
Everyone knows that downtime is not good for business. But does guaranteeing “no downtime” really mean no downtime? Ideally, yes, but we all know that service interruptions happen! So no downtime in reality means that customers will not pay for downtime and providers will do everything possible to keep your data accessible and your applications up and running 24x7x365. Before trusting your provider’s no downtime SLA, there are several things you will want to fully understand specific to your business as well as on the part of the provider.
For your business:
- Know your current metrics – how much downtime occurs yearly; what is your backup plan and how long does that plan take to implement for recovery (time of full recovery; has anything been lost permanently, etc.)?
- Calculate the cost of downtime – consider what you will host, and know how much a minute or an hour of downtime will cost in real money (lost revenue). Take all factors into consideration.
From your prospective provider:
- Ask for help in calculating your downtime even if you have already done so. A second set of expert eyes is always helpful.
- Ask questions – You need to fully understand the “no downtime” clause in the SLA. Will you receive a credit for each minute of downtime? Do you not pay for downtime? Do you get a discount if downtime occurs? What is the failover plan in case of downtime? When was your last outage that affected your customers? What is your average length of outage per year, per month? What caused your last outage? How often does an outage occur? How can you guarantee your data is safe?
- Get solid data – Providers should track all pertinent information regarding downtime and should have numbers as well as records to reference or provide when dealing with prospects.
- Discuss best options for your needs – these could include push button DR, host-to-host replication, SAN-to-SAN replication or hosted dedicated firewall failover, among others.
Entering into a contract with the understanding that no downtime does not necessarily mean no downtime is the best approach. Providers, while wanting to provide 100% uptime, are subject to unexpected, unwanted outages, even if they are rare. The way providers deal with them is the true testament to their trustworthiness. Do your due diligence and choose wisely. Downtime will be unlikely and easier to deal with if and when the downtime occurs.