Billions Lost Due to IT Network Outages in 2010: Survey

A survey of 7,000 businesses reports that 25 percent of enterprise IT systems suffered unplanned outages of 4 hours or more during the past year, costing billions of dollars in profits.

IT systems integrator CDW on March 22 released results of a study about business continuity/disaster recovery methodology that indicates 25 percent of all enterprise IT systems suffered unplanned outages of 4 hours or more during the past year.

Based on this data, CDW said it estimates conservatively that such network outages cost U.S. businesses $1.7 billion in lost profits last year.

In its Business Continuity Straw Poll, CDW queried about 7,000 medium-size and large U.S. enterprises about significant network disruptions they had experienced since July 2009. The survey aimed to ascertain how well businesses reacted to disruptions and to determine the measures IT managers are taking to improve their business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities.

"The survey confirms that while many businesses believe they are prepared for an unplanned network disruption, many are not. And yet the three most common causes of IT outages are addressable," CDW Vice President of System Solutions Norm Lillis said.

As might be expected, power outages ranked as the No. 1 cause of business disruptions, with one-third of businesses reporting that this cause also prompted their most recent disruption. Hardware failures caused 29 percent of network outages, followed by a loss of telecom services to facilities (21 percent), CDW said.

The survey also revealed that businesses need to take advanced preparation more seriously and support employees more effectively with network accessibility, CDW said.

While 53 percent of respondents said employees are instructed or given the option to work from home when an expected network disruption approaches (such as a weather event), only one-third of businesses activate standby communications and network systems to support increased remote access when warned of such an event, CDW said.

In fact, while 44 percent of the workforce normally has telecommuting options, respondents said that only 39 percent of employees could telework during their most recent network outage, CDW reported.

Regardless of the cause of disruption, more than half of businesses (57 percent) reported productivity losses as the No. 1 negative effect of their network disruptions, primarily due to reduced access to the network itself or to applications, data and communications systems.

Other findings, according to CDW:

  • 51 percent experienced problems connecting to their IT network from other locations.
  • 50 percent had problems connecting from inside their business locations.
  • Nearly half of respondents (46 percent) said employees could not access the necessary company resources to do their jobs.
  • Almost one-third (29 percent) said employees had problems communicating with each other via internal phone systems and/or email.
  • 28 percent said their networks were slower than expected and could not support the increased traffic from remote locations.

To obtain a copy of the full report, go here (free download, registration required).

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...