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3 High Profile Outages Underscore the Cost of Downtime


3 High Profile Outages Underscore the Cost of Downtime


Three of some of the highest profile presences online suffered well publicized outages this week. Amazon.com, Microsoft's Outlook.com, and Google (yes the one and only) all suffered signficant outages that not only upset users but caught headlines everywhere. More importantly is not just the noteriety generated by these outages, but the bottom line costs that have been tallied over the period of the outage. 

For Microsoft, last Wednesday, some Outlook.com users were locked out of their accounts for possibly up to 7 hours. Blaming the issue on an unexplained "incident", Microsoft downplayed the story saying that only a small number of users were affected. Even if only a small percentage of Outlook.com users were cut off, millions of people could have been inconvenienced. Microsoft claims to have more than 400 million accounts on Outlook.com.

Friday night Google experienced a brief outage, taking place between 7:52 and 7:57 p.m. EST, where all its services from Google Search to Gmail to YouTube stopped working across the world. According to Neil McAllister, a writer for website The Register, said: "Exactly how an operation like Google's can even go dark like that, all at once, is anybody's guess." 

SkyNews reported that "according to web analytics firm GoSquared, global internet traffic fell by around 40% during the black-out, reflecting Google's massive grip on the web. Digital expert Phil Dearson, head of strategy for Tribal Worldwide, said the black-out had cost Google an estimated $500,000 just in the few minutes it was down." 

The biggest of the outage events came on Monday night, when Amazon.com apologized for lack of accessibity to the online shopping site. Both Amazon.com's main page and corresponding mobile site went offline for 30 to 40 minutes, leaving millions shut out of the internet's leading online shopping experience. While the reason for the outage was unknown, ZDnet reported that "It's not clear how much revenue Amazon may lose as a result of the outage. One report estimates it to be in the region of more than $1,100 in net sales per second." That puts the Amazon.com outage at nearly $3 million in losses.

The Drum commented on the unusual nature of the Amazon.com outage saying "This appears to be a problem somewhere in the application or internal network and just for Amazon.com."

Motley Fool elaborated on the consequences of the event, sharing one customer experience "that means a 30-minute outage for the company's main retail site would cost Amazon more than $3 million in sales. Forty minutes? That'll run more than $4 million. Come to think of it, those numbers could be even higher considering this particular outage happened to occur smack dab in the middle of the shopping day."

Rachel Dines at Forrester emphasized the lessons to take from these event saying that it was "Not a great few weeks for uptime. Before you experience an outage, take the time to understand your impact of downtime, so you make sure to invest the resources to prevent downtime." Amazon outage  With IT systems becoming more complex and more critical to keeping the business available, are companies prepared to make sure performance does not suffer?

Your Turn
How are you prepared to make sure your critical infrastructure is always available?

About the Author
Martin Perlin