Understanding Data Center Outages: Common Causes and Solutions

Apr 11,2023 by Sneha Mishra
Data Center Outages

In this digital era, data centers in India have become the backbone of businesses. It is responsible for storing, processing, and managing extensive data. However, with the rise in complexity of cloud computing requirements and data center systems, unplanned downtime and outage have become a severe threat to the enterprise. It often results in reputational damage and financial losses. 

Data center outages are expensive. With the advancement in digital initiatives, data center outages have become common. Per the Uptime Institute’s 2022 Annual Outage Analysis, one in five organizations reported a severe outage in the past three years. 

Data Center Outages: 6 Common Causes

As per the statistics shared above, data center outage is common. Predicating scenarios can be challenging, especially if it is beyond control, such as natural disasters. However, being aware of common causes can help businesses devise prevention plans. 

  • Network Issue

According to the 2022 Data Center Resiliency Survey by Uptime, network issues have been the biggest cause of IT service downtime incidents in the last three years. Data centers rely on networks to connect their equipment to the outside world. Due to the increased use of cloud hosting in India, outages attributed to networks and systems are rising. 

Two common causes of networking-related data center outages or third-party network provider failures and configuration or change management failure. Other includes connectivity issues, routing problems, and DDoS attacks. 

  • Power Loss or Insufficient Power BackUp

Another major cause of data center outages is power loss or insufficient power backup. It accounts for 43%. They can happen due to the power grid, natural, and equipment failures. 

If a major power supply fails, data centers should be equipped with power backup sources to navigate the challenges. Typically, generators are batteries are used as power backups. However, problems arise when operators overlook their regular maintenance. 

  • Human Error
Related Topic:  Hybrid Cloud vs. Multi-Cloud

As per a study, about 40% of organizations experienced data centers due to human years over the past three years. Out of which, 85% arose due to staff not complying with the procedures or processes flaws. Some of the human errors that lead to data center outages are:

  1. Unplanned layout
  2. Poor training
  3. Lack of maintenance 
  4. Equipment misconfiguration
  5. Accidental critical components damage
  6. Activating an Emergency Power-Off (EPO) switch
  7. Circuit overload. 
  • Cyber Attacks 

Cyberattacks are on the rise and threaten data centers. Data breaches due to DDoS and ransomware can interrupt service and outages. Ransomware has increasingly become sophisticated and is impacting business continuity. 

The IoT devices utilization, public cloud services, and other trends have spiked the risk of distributed denial of service and ransomware attacks on data center networks. Cyberattacks can destabilize a firm due to their long-term effects and recovery time. 

  • Hardware Malfunctions

Hardware malfunctions are a contributor to data center outages. Data centers are physical structures that rely on other physical structures’ sustainability. However, the failure of this physical equipment, such as IT hardware, may lead to a data center outage. It is especially true in the tech industry, where equipment and machinery are running 24×7. 

Hardware malfunctions may also include cooling system failure and the end of life of the old server. Businesses can opt for predictive and preventative maintenance to prevent data center outages due to hardware malfunctions. It would be best to have a strong contingency plan when failures inevitably happen. 

  • Cooling System Failures

Data centers generate a massive amount of heat. Thus, effective cooling solutions are necessary to prevent equipment from overheating. If the cooling solution doesn’t function as expected, the temperature in the data center will fluctuate. It will affect the data center’s productivity. 

Mitigating Data Center Outages: Tips & Best Practices

Proper management and preventative steps can significantly reduce data center outages. Some of these include:

  • Resiliency Analysis
Related Topic:  Modernize Data Center Power for a Sustainable Future

Resilience is a crucial attribute of data centers. Thus, every enterprise must take the initiative to prevent data outages. They should conduct regular resilience analysis of every component in the data center ecosystem, including power, service providers, connectivity, and cooling. The temperature should be regularly monitored to prevent any breakdown or shutdown of equipment. 

UPS system failure is also a common cause of downtime. Consistent remote monitoring of UPS systems will help provide real-time alerts and administer any problem before it causes downtime. 

  • Fix Security Gaps

Analyzing and fixing security gaps has become more critical than ever. Cybercriminals can take advantage of these gaps and gain access to sensitive data. Steps you can take are:

  1. Blended ISP connection
  2. Carrier-neutral data center connectivity
  3. Colocation facilities use
  4. Advanced data analysis
  5. Prevent power outage
  • Software Updation

Software failures can also lead to data center outages and downtime. Thus, it is crucial to update software regularly. To accomplish the same, AI can be used to scan vulnerabilities and carry out software updates. AI can also be utilized to identify problems related to equipment or application security or performance. 

  • Protection Against Ransomware

As we have already discussed, ransomware can significantly disrupt the functioning of data centers. Thus, it is crucial to protect the data center against this malware. To accomplish this, organizations must reduce user privileges and eliminate end-user admins. Instead, they must use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to limit the opportunities for attackers to move latterly. 

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) response can help prevent the malware from spreading, while network segmentation can lower the attack vector. 

  • Train Your Employees

Human errors are one of the leading causes of data center outages. Thus, having the proper procedure and training your employees is essential. The procedure can include daily operation documentation, routine cooling equipment check, and physical maintenance inspection. Be rigorous in rectifying and disciplining any process deviations. 

Related Topic:  Data Center Consolidation: An Essential Future-Ready Practice

Mitigating Data Center Outage: Role of Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting in India plays a significant role in mitigating the risk of data center outages. Typically, cloud centers have multiple data centers established in different geographic regions. Thus, if one data center experiences an outage, operations can be shifted to another without significant disruption.

Additionally, cloud hosting providers also offer high security and compliance. It further helps in mitigating legal liability during data breaches or outages. They also provide 24×7 monitoring and support that helps to identify and resolve issues. 

Cloud hosting providers utilize advanced technologies such as virtualization and load balancing to distribute workload between multiple servers and data centers. It prevents overloading, reducing the risk of system failure and downtime. 

A key point to remember is that even though cloud hosting can reduce the risk of data center outages, they are not immune to downtime. Thus, businesses should also have a disaster recovery plan to ensure business continuity. It includes data backup and recovery procedures. 

In a Nutshell

Data center outages are common and expensive. It can lead to productivity decline, lost revenue, and reputation damage. The good news is that the frequency and intensity of data outages can be controlled by following proper policies and practices. Additionally, cloud hosting significantly mitigates the risk; however, a disaster recovery plan is crucial. 

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