What’s the Cost of an Hour?

In 2017, we had a number of high profile downtime outages from companies. The British Airways fiasco, United airlines being grounded, Starbucks, Amazon, and more. There was a survey that noted 98% of respondents said an hour of downtime cost their organization over US$100,000. A third put that figure over $1mm.

This week, I’m wondering if you have any idea what downtime costs your company. If you do, and can let us know, drop a figure in the comments. Maybe you can give us a range, or maybe you can say it’s a large amount. If you don’t know, maybe let us know if it’s not important to your business.

I haven’t often calculated this, but when most companies look at lost revenue from customers, lost ability to conduct business, and potential losses from employees sitting around, it’s probably a large number. Then again, many companies might just force employees to work extra to make up the work, so perhaps some companies don’t care.

This certainly isn’t a simple answer. Modern systems are often distributed, with many moving parts, and complex network connections. With modern software development using caching, micro-services, and feature flags, it’s entirely that an application is down for some clients and not for others. Or perhaps, a portion of the application is broken while other parts work.

Downtime can be disruptive and expensive, and it is something most system administrators plan for and work to avoid. If you know what it cost for either the loss of a system or in your preparations, it would be interesting to know today.

Steve Jones

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