Most SMB Downtime Caused by Hardware Failure

Paul Mah

Headlines focusing on natural disasters are sure to cause small and mid-sized businesses to re-examine if their IT infrastructure is capable of surviving a fire or a flood. It may be receiving a disproportionate amount of attention, however, according to a new report by Quorum. According to the disaster recovery vendor, natural disasters account for a mere 5 percent of downtime.

The biggest culprit of SMB downtime is actually due to hardware failure, which accounts for some 55 percent of all downtime events in SMBs. Following closely behind at 22 percent are downtimes caused by human error, while software failure is credited with the remaining 18 percent. Examples of the latter two include accidentally wiping a file system on a server, and the installation of untested software patches and updates on mission-critical servers.

Where hardware failures are concerned, the SAN (Storage Area Network) going kaput appears to be the most common experience of small and mid-sized businesses. “It’s common for these businesses to have a large SAN, and all storage servers virtualized onto that SAN,” notes the report. “Unfortunately, this means that when the SAN dies, the company’s entire environment dies with it.”

Finally, the Q1 2013 Disaster Recovery Report by Quorum also found a disparity in the expectations of executives who estimate that it will take up to 10 hours to recover from a downtime. IT managers, on the other hand, say it will typically take 30 hours for recovery – three times longer than what the executives expect.

With this in mind, it makes sense for businesses to communicate more clearly with their management and executive teams pertaining to the speed of system recovery. If necessary, SMBs heavily reliant on a centralized storage resource may want to invest a larger chunk of the budget so as to ensure a high uptime or faster system recovery.

To be clear, Quorum is using the findings to tout its own hybrid recovery solution that the company says will help SMBs avoid downtime. That aside, there is really no denying the importance of proper data backups and a disaster recovery plan for SMBs. Indeed, estimates by HP and SCORE say that 25 percent of small businesses do not reopen following a major disaster – making it more relevant than ever that SMBs enact the appropriate defenses before disaster hits.

In terms of general disaster recovery planning, I have written previously about creating a disaster recovery plan for your small business that examines strategies on this front. For an overview of orthodox and unorthodox data backup strategies, you may want to read “Three Methods of Backing up Your Crucial Work Files in 2013.”

Finally, you can download the Quorum report from this link (pdf).



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