Light Reading
With the high cost of achieving carrier grade networks, is high availability good enough?

What's the Real Cost of Network Downtime?

Charlie Ashton
9/3/2014
50%
50%

When networks go down, even for a brief moment, thousands of dollars are in jeopardy. Can service providers afford sacrificing carrier-grade reliability and risk facing downtime?

I've been examining the technical requirements for carrier-grade reliability in telecom networks quite a bit in recent weeks. One recent blog post discussed the differences between "high availability" and "carrier grade," while a subsequent post outlined some of the key challenges that make it so hard to implement true six-nines (99.9999%) reliability in a telecom platform.

Given both the technical challenges and also the licensing costs associated with delivering carrier-grade reliability, sooner or later a smart finance person is going to ask whether the benefits actually outweigh the expense. Isn't high availablity good enough? Why go to the additional expense of carrier-grade reliability? So it's interesting to look at some numbers that unequivocally tell us the real question is not "Can you afford to implement carrier-grade reliability?" but rather "How could you possibly afford not to?"

Let's start with the numbers that no one can dispute. The traditional standard for telecom network reliability, measured at the service level, is six-nines or 99.9999%, which translates to an average 32 seconds of downtime per year, per service.

As service providers plan for the progressive deployment of NFV in their networks, they inevitably consider the use of standard enterprise-class virtualization software for use in their NFV infrastructure. The standard reliability guarantee for such enterprise solutions is three-nines (99.9%), which implies 526 minutes of downtime per year.

So as a service provider, what will 526 minutes actually cost you, compared to 32 seconds?

One report estimates the cost of downtime as $11,000 per minute, per server. This represents the revenue that's lost as a result of service level agreements (SLAs) with customers (mostly high-value, enterprise users). If each server is down for 526 minutes per year, that's an annual cost of $5,780,000 per server. We'll call that $6 million per server to keep the math easy.

Now, how many servers do you have in your data centers, delivering the services that your customers depend on? If you have 1,000 servers then your total annual cost of downtime is 1,000 x $6 million, or $6 billion.

And just to make it worse, that $6 billion represents only the revenue that's lost as a result of customer SLAs. It doesn't include the long-term revenue impact caused by some of those customers switching to other service providers who are promising them the service uptime that they need.


Find out more about key developments related to the systems and technologies deployed in data centers on Light Reading's data center infrastructure channel


To complete the analysis, the corresponding revenue loss for service outages in a network with true six-nines carrier-grade infrastructure will be $5,780 per server, or total of $6 million, if we again assume 1,000 servers in the data center. That's not negligible, but it's only one-thousandth the cost of the first scenario and customers are much less likely to switch providers if they experience such low average downtime.

So, putting ourselves in a service provider's shoes and assuming our hypothetical 1,000-server installation, the trade-off is clear. We can base our NFV infrastructure on enterprise-class software designed for IT applications, incurring $6 billion in lost revenue because of our SLAs, while risking customer defections because they can't tolerate the downtime. Or we can implement carrier-grade infrastructure that delivers the reliability that customers have been conditioned to expect, in which case downtime should only cost us $6 million and we can expect to retain our high-value customers.

What do you think? Are these numbers realistic? Wed be delighted to hear from readers with more visibility into the true cost of downtime.

Charlie Ashton is director of business development at Wind River.

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
varun.dit@gmail.com
50%
50%
varun.dit@gmail.com,
User Rank: Light Beer
9/23/2014 | 6:44:47 AM
NFV fraction
NFV based network availabity is not upto the standards of Tier-1 Operators, but it definately meets requirement of small operators as there business model is different. Moreover studies shows that software clustering will improve the availability factor for NFV based networks.

Another things which is very important if you are looking to create NFV solutions for Tier-1, who are six 9 based, you have to identify correct Network Functions which can be replaced and your Network Management Systems can support.
More Blogs from Column
Communications service providers need to become digital service providers, but what exactly does that entail?
Here are some ideas for how cable operators can help low-income households connect to pay-TV and broadband services.
Once SDN and NFV are added to already complex wide area networks, management and security become even greater challenges for operators.
Operators should leverage their network, QoS, billing and big data to compete against OTT players with both consumer and enterprise offers.
Is it smarter to centralize network intelligence for LTE-Advanced and 5G, or continue the Flat-IP 4G trend of pushing intelligence to the edge?
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Is your network built on 'The Old IP,' or are you part of 'The New IP' revolution?
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Innovating Access Technology With G.fast

10|1|14   |   3.42   |   (0) comments


Exploring the potential of G.fast technology from the point of view of the Broadband Forum, Huawei – and an end-user.
LRTV Documentaries
A Cultural Shift for an OTT World

9|26|14   |   01:41   |   (3) comments


Telcos need to embrace a new approach to partnerships if they are to generate extra revenues quickly and give customers what they want.
LRTV Documentaries
New Skills Needed as Telecom, IT Collide

9|26|14   |   4:07   |   (1) comment


As telecom and IT collide, new technologies are emerging, new skills are needed and new opportunities for women are arising.
UBB Forum News
Do IP Networks Need An Overhaul?

9|25|14   |   02:01   |   (0) comments


As traffic levels ramp, do IP networks need new technologies and topologies?
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint Wields Its Influence in the Valley

9|25|14   |   3:09   |   (11) comments


Anne-Louise Kardas, Sprint's connection to startups in the Valley, explains how telcos can be innovative and find new opportunities with partners.
LRTV Documentaries
SDN, NFV & The Future of XO's Network

9|25|14   |   3:47   |   (1) comment


XO Communications COO Don MacNeil explains how cloud, SDN and NFV are altering its network requirements as well as changing data centers of the future.
UBB Forum News
The OTT Conundrum

9|24|14   |   01:39   |   (0) comments


What is holding back prosperous partnerships between telcos and the OTT players?
LRTV Documentaries
Putting Broadband to Work

9|24|14   |   01:26   |   (0) comments


High-speed broadband network rollout is key to telco strategies, but it's what happens after the network is built that counts.
Light Reedy
Light Reading's Women in Telecom Recap

9|24|14   |   0:55   |   (4) comments


Our first Women in Telecom breakfast was a huge success, and we hope you'll join us in London for the next event on November 6.
UBB Forum News
Monetizing Ultra-Broadband

9|24|14   |   01:43   |   (2) comments


Ultra-broadband networks need to be built, with fiber-to-the-premises the ultimate goal, but they need to be monetized, too.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Half of the world's population will be connected to the Internet by 2017, but not just by smartphones and desktops.
Hot Topics
Facebook Pokes Around LTE Direct
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/25/2014
Is Redbox Instant Shutting Down?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/30/2014
Sprint Wields Its Influence in the Valley
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/25/2014
US Ignite Cultivates Gigabit Apps
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 9/25/2014
SoftBank Eyes a DreamWorks Buy – Report
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/29/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed