IT outages cost UK businesses thousands of pounds a year and a significant amount of downtime. EMC Global Data Protection Index results from last year puts the fallout of IT outages at £10.5 billion, the cost of data loss and downtime. Depending on your organisation, this can impact on your business in various ways:
- Customer Loss: Potential customers may be put off by your website being unavailable, or the time it might take for you to respond to an enquiry. Existing customers may be affected by your IT downtime and resolve to find an alternative provider.
- Productivity: If an IT outage prevents your employees from doing their jobs you not only lose man-hours but also the financial rewards from a having a productive workforce. You will be paying your staff for doing nothing.
- Reputation: Any downtime may be seen by customers or stakeholders as unacceptable, but frequent and prolonged IT outages can have serious implications for your business’s reputation. With the advent of social media it is extremely easy for dissatisfied customers to vent their frustration on these platforms, damaging your organisation’s reputation further.
- Data Security: Loss of data can have a significant impact on the above points, as well as raising issues about compliance and data protection.
- Potential Legal Action: If your customers’ business activity is affected by your IT outage your organisation may be asked for compensation or face legal action.
- Costs Of Recovery: As well as the cost of fixing the issue, whether that is by calling in external assistance or the time it takes your IT department to resolve the problem, you may also need to factor in overtime to make up for the loss of productivity, and compensation to any customers adversely affected.
IT outages, as well as not having a contingency or recovery plan in place for dealing with them, is a common problem clients present here at UKN Group.
Greenwoods Solicitors came to us having experienced frequent IT outages for prolonged periods, without any Disaster Recovery measures in place. The cost to the firm, for this one problem, was calculated to be in excess of £16,000 per hour of downtime and applications. They were looking for reliable ‘always up’ IT systems, with inbuilt resilience to protect against outages, as well as improved security and back-up, ensuring business continuity.
Preventing And Dealing With IT Outages
This is how we addressed these key issues:
Reliable ‘Always Up’ IT Systems
We built high resiliency into the firms WAN, by having N+1 communication links in every office. Installation of Layer 3 switches allows intelligent automatic failover between primary and backup links. Plus real time onsite network monitoring, provided with automated email and SMS alerts for any capacity or availability issues.
A robust and mature Business Continuity Plan was implemented, and this was reviewed and accessed as approved during external ISO 27001 audits by The British Standards Institution.
Replication of the live case management system database to a warm standby was implemented. The 16 million history documents associated with the case management system are also replicated in real time. This ensures the most critical systems are recovered within 10mins, without loss of data.
VMware ESXi host and guest Servers were implemented, these being particularly valuable for the Disaster Recovery (DR) office. It negates the need to buy expensive duplicate servers and can be DR recovered to a virtualized guest server.
Scansafe monthly web browsing usage reports are supplied to senior management, for monitoring any abuse of web browsing.
Mimecast Email Security Software as Service (SaaS) and Scansafe web browsing SaaS, provide security to Greenwoods from email and web browsing virus and malware intrusion, with 100% guaranteed protection. Sophos Enterprise AntiVirus protection is also deployed as a second line of defence. Sophos also acts a drive blocker, preventing the use of USB devices for unauthorised mass storage.
Having developed an Information Security Management System, ISO 27001 accreditation was gained in June 2011. This has been invaluable to the firm, especially when tendering for new clients, where this accreditation is becoming a defacto standard.
We’re pleased to report that Greenwoods no longer suffers from frequent and prolonged IT outages and there is now a robust disaster recovery plan in place. This, coupled with the improved security measures implemented, has given Greenwoods the reliable and secure ‘always up’ service they require; significantly reducing loss of productivity, loss of revenue and loss of reputation in the process.