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Network downtime is painful, and for large businesses, it can be excruciatingly expensive. As an example, in 2016, there was a 5-hour power outage in an operation center run by Delta Airlines – and it caused more than 2,000 canceled flights and a total loss of $150 million.

Your business may not be that large, and the consequences of downtime may not be so catastrophic for you, but the average cost of downtime is still $5,600 per minute.

So what steps can businesses take to reduce the cost of downtime?

Work With a Professional Team

Enlisting the help of services for network management could be exactly what you need to minimize the costs of downtime. Hiring a team of professionals confers the following advantages:

– Professional planning. Network management teams typically have the expertise and experience necessary to identify critical vulnerabilities in your infrastructure, evaluate risks, and establish better systems for reducing downtime. They can also help you create a disaster recovery plan, which you can use to respond to downtime in progress.

– Responsiveness and availability. Depending on the services you enlist, your external firm may be responsible for responding to an incident in progress – and they may be available 24/7. One of the most important aspects of minimizing downtime is identifying and addressing issues as rapidly as possible, and the right IT firm can help you do this.

– Cost efficiency. Services for network management cost money, but they often pay for themselves in the long run. Hiring a firm is often cheaper than hiring an internal team, and it’s certainly cheaper than dealing with downtime.

Create a Thorough Disaster Recovery Plan

Even if you don’t hire a team of professionals, you need to come up with a thorough disaster recovery plan. You should identify the different potential sources of downtime, have a plan for how to identify incidents in progress, and have clear protocols for who’s responsible for taking action in response to downtime.

The more comprehensive and better understood this plan is, the faster you’ll be able to resolve downtime issues in the future.

Communicate Clearly And Responsively

If and when you experience downtime, everyone on your team needs to be able to communicate clearly and responsively. That means notifying people right away, being available to receive messages, and coordinating on the proper channels.

Communication strategies are going to look different for every business, but you need to have some kind of communication strategy in place.

Use Redundancy to Get Rid of Single Points of Failure

Downtime is often a result of a single point of failure causing catastrophic outages. You can minimize the influence and duration of downtime by using redundancy to eliminate these single points of failure. As a simple example, installing power backups means a simple power outage is practically incapable of wiping out your systems.

Prevent Downtime as Much as Possible

The best way to minimize downtime costs is to prevent downtime – and these are some of the strategies that can help you do it:

– Use microservice architecture. Increasingly, businesses are relying on microservice architecture, rather than building gigantic, monolithic structures. This type of structure is much more flexible and less prone to catastrophic failures.

– Rely on faster, more frequent releases. A dynamic, agile approach makes downtime less likely.

– Keep everything updated. All your hardware and software need to be kept up to date at all times. Proactive updating and maintenance can prevent downtime.

– Employ ongoing monitoring. Ongoing monitoring helps you keep an eye on how your systems are operating. If you detect aberrant activity, or if you notice issues with power supply, network traffic, or hardware failures, you can take action swiftly and prevent your systems from entirely going down.

– Document changes. Are you changing something in the IT department? Make sure you document those changes and communicate them clearly. It can prevent some outages and facilitate faster root cause analysis if your systems are impacted negatively.

– Test. Finally, make it a point to test your systems. Run drills to see how your IT responds to an incident in progress; you can use the data you gather to improve your approach in the future.

Learn From Your Mistakes

Even with all these strategies and practices in place, there’s a chance your business will experience significant unexpected downtime. If and when it does, it’s important to learn from whatever mistakes led to this incident. Conduct a postmortem, review it with your team, and use these lessons to update your disaster recovery plans and services.

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Downtime is incredibly expensive, but it doesn’t have to jeopardize your business. With proper planning and a preventative mindset, you can eliminate most downtime incidents from occurring – and reduce the costs of any incidents that remain.