While there are great benefits to cloud computing services, those benefits are realized only when the data center or contracted service is up and running. According to an Information Technology Intelligence Consulting (ITIC) survey, more than 80% of businesses now require a guaranteed uptime of 99.99% from their cloud service vendors.

That level of uptime corresponds to mission-critical reliability and reflects how dependent business operations have become on cloud-based services. To hammer the point home, the survey also shows that 15% of responding businesses now require a guaranteed uptime of at least 99.999%. Although it may not seem significant, that extra decimal point of reliability could save a company hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

SEE: Systems downtime expense calculator (Tech Pro Research)

Cost of downtime

An uptime of 99.99% translates into a total of about an hour of downtime annually. Whereas, an uptime of 99.999% translates into only five minutes of annual downtime. The average cost of an hour of downtime, according to the ITIC, is about $260,000–but the average cost of five minutes is only about $2,600.

The key to taking advantage of that extra decimal point of uptime is knowing what systems are critical to your business operations. Some systems are so important to the overall operation that they must be monitored constantly. And on the rare occasions these systems do fail, there must be a responsible team in place to implement an immediate recovery plan of action.

The most effective way to put a monitoring and recovery system in place is with a comprehensive enterprise-wide system monitoring policy that specifies critical systems and responsible personnel and indicates a recovery response for any system failure. The best policies will also include measures necessary to detect problems before they manifest and to suggest preemptive solutions that prevent system failures from occurring in the first place.

SEE: Digital transformation: An IT pro’s guide (free PDF)

TechRepublic’s premium sister site, Tech Pro Research, offers a system monitoring policy that can serve as a template for developing your own guidelines for monitoring critical systems. When a computer system suffers downtime, it can be inconvenient at the very least–and always expensive. So a well-crafted monitoring policy and a comprehensive response protocol can go a long way toward reducing the overall cost of an unfortunate and unplanned incident.

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Your thoughts

Does your organization require 99.99% uptime? How about 99.999%? Share your concerns and advice with fellow TechRepublic members.