Takeaways From The Uptime Institute’s Annual Outage Analysis Report

By Lee Coriell, Lead Sales Engineer

According to the Uptime Institute’s 2024 Outage Analysis, between 10 and 20 “high-profile IT outages or data center events” occur every year. The study revealed that while power is the main cause of data center outages, network issues are the leading cause of outages across all IT services. These outages make headlines and have serious consequences, disrupting business for customers and damaging company reputations.

More than half of respondents said their most recent major outage cost them over $100,000, and 16% reported that it cost more than $1 million. Here are some key takeaways from the Uptime Institute’s annual report and what you can do to mitigate the risk of a high-profile outage on your network. 

Leading causes of network outages

The leading causes of network-related outages typically fall under one (or more) of these categories:

  • Design & Configuration: Gaps in design, incorrect IP addressing, routing table errors, and lack of redundancy or failover methods can lead to network vulnerabilities that result in downtime.
  • Hardware: Problems with equipment such as routers, firewalls, or switches, as well as cabling errors and cooling system malfunctions, can disrupt network communications. Power outages, especially with the increasing variability of renewable power grids globally, can be a key factor in hardware-related outages.
  • Capacity: The increased demand for connectivity and bandwidth can strain networks and legacy infrastructure, leading to slowdowns and downtime. Insufficient IP addresses, processing power, or memory also pose a threat.
  • Software: Glitches in code can compromise network devices or services, leading to unexpected crashes and memory leaks. Software issues can also make networks vulnerable to cyberattacks.
  • Environmental Threats: As we saw in the major bank outages late last year, issues such as data center overheating or humidity control failures can quickly damage network equipment. With extreme weather events becoming more frequent worldwide, environmental factors are increasingly challenging to manage.

To err is human

According to the Uptime Institute’s study, direct and indirect human error contributes to approximately 66% to 80% of all downtime incidents. This can be attributed to factors such as the absence of preventive procedures or resources, inadequate training, worker fatigue, or the growing complexity of the technology being used. Examples of human error include employees inadvertently granting attackers access to company data or systems or failing to adhere to proper procedures during maintenance or a routine network upgrade.

Software-defined networking can help mitigate outage risk

There’s no easy button to make a network less prone to outages, but using Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) software platforms can help make it easier to build a more robust, diverse, and resilient network.

  • Design & Configuration: By using the right NaaS platform, you can turn up redundant connections to sites quickly and easily online. In my blog on upgrading network backbones, I told the story of a customer that waited 12 months for diverse services to be installed by their carrier. With a software-defined network operator, you can design your network for redundancy and configure the connectivity you need immediately. If your ports are in place with their cross-connects, services can be provisioned and live within minutes, not months. 
  • Hardware: With a NaaS platform, you don’t have to manage routers, switches, or cables. The more hardware you have to manage, the higher the probability that network-impacting human errors can occur.
  • Capacity: On a NaaS platform, you can turn up or upgrade private connectivity easily, with flexible and high-bandwidth options, and avoid the bandwidth-throttling that can happen when you connect over the public Internet or use dedicated Internet access from your carrier.
  • Software: With NaaS, you don’t have to deal with potential software issues on customer premises equipment. Your network service operator can direct your traffic to alternate paths to avoid downtime.

In short, managing all the things that can go wrong with your network equipment and your network teams can add up to a lot of work. One of the many benefits of using NaaS software platforms is that much of that work can be offloaded to a network operator with service-level agreements for uptime.

Have you experienced high-profile network outages?

Mitigating the risk of serious outages is at or near the top of every network team’s priorities. By increasing the usage of NaaS software platforms, you can quickly and easily design and deploy flexible, resilient networks that can be configured for high availability for mission-critical applications of all types.

Chat with one of our sales engineers and let us know how we can help you.