How a UPS Monitoring Service Can Help Prevent Costly IT Downtime

For years, research firms and IT vendors have been trying to calculate the cost of business downtime due to IT failures with varying results but a consistent upshot: downtime is expensive.

Back in 2011, CA Technologies surveyed 200 companies in North America and Europe and found that small enterprises lost more than $55,000 per year due to IT failures while midsize firms lost more than $91,000 and large companies lost north of $1 million per year. Tally it all up and CA found IT downtime cost businesses more than $26.5 billion per year in lost revenue.

Judging from a study by the research firm IHS, Inc. released in early 2016, it appears downtime has only become more costly:

“Our research found that the cost of information and communication technology (ICT) downtime is substantial, from $1 million a year for a typical mid-size company to over $60 million for a large enterprise,” said Matthias Machowinski, Research Director for Enterprise Networks and Video at IHS.

The IHS study found lost productivity accounts for 78% of those costs while 17% is from lost revenue. The cost to fix the problem at the root of all those losses was relatively small, only 5%.

That 5% figure indicates that many IT failures could have been prevented had companies invested a relatively small amount of money to fix a failing IT system. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

That is certainly the case when it comes to protecting a resource that is at the root of many IT failures: a steady stream of clean electrical power. There’s no shortage of threats to that steady stream of power, from blizzards and hurricanes to overloaded utility grids and equipment failures.

Companies of all sizes routinely employ uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems and generators to shoulder the IT load should utility power fail. UPSs are a critical piece of that puzzle because they provide power to IT systems during the few seconds or minutes it takes generators to kick in. Or, in smaller IT setups, they may provide the only source of battery backup power, at least long enough to allow for transition to a backup data center or graceful system shutdown.

The problem is, UPS systems are like automobiles; they need routine periodic maintenance in order to function reliably. Every UPS has a battery, for example, and batteries don’t last forever. They also have moving parts such as fans that need to be checked periodically and filters that can become clogged.

The average IT staff isn’t set up to perform UPS maintenance; they’re too busy performing other functions that are more core to meeting business goals, as they should be.

As they do with so many IT functions today, companies can now outsource the monitoring and maintenance of their UPS systems to a managed service provider (MSP). The MSP will provide 24×7 monitoring of the systems.

Like many other IT systems, UPSs today can generate a wealth of diagnostic information. MSPs use tools that collect and analyze this data. In so doing, they can detect when a UPS is displaying behavior that’s out of the ordinary and is in danger of failing. The MSP can then take steps to remedy the issue –  before the UPS actually fails.

As detailed in this blog post, for customers this is a more strategic method of performing UPS maintenance than merely following a maintenance schedule because you’re fixing an actual, known issue, not just replacing a component because a schedule says you should.

Any good IT group monitors and manages its IT systems to detect signs of failures in hopes of repairing them before they cause a disruption. Many already use MSPs to perform the function for them. Adding UPS systems to the management roster just may be the step that prevents costly downtime the next time you need to rely on those UPSs.

To learn more about what it takes to properly maintain your UPSs, download the free APC by Schneider Electric white paper number 210, “Single Phase UPS Management, Maintenance, and Lifecycle.”

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