Light Reading

What's the Real Cost of Network Downtime?

Charlie Ashton

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? We’d 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        ADD A COMMENT
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
Cord cutting is a real and present threat to pay-TV, but it has been an erosion, not a landslide.
They go together hand-in-hand in many networks but the relationship is strained – is there a way to improve the efficiency of an OpenStack and OVS deployment?
The comms industry is rallying to the cause of open, independent interoperability testing.
Data analytics and revenue assurance are growing in strategic importance for the cable industry.
The introduction of IoT applications is supposed to make life easier for homo sapiens. But things are off to a bad start, according to Accedian's Scott Sumner.
From The Founder
The comms industry is rallying to the cause of open, independent interoperability testing.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Tail-f, Cisco & What the Future Holds

10|9|15   |   8:17   |   (0) comments

Steve Saunders meets with Tail-f's Director of Technology, Carl Moberg, in Stockholm to discuss becoming part of Cisco, ETSI MANO, virtualization and the need to combine science and business in order to create opportunities for service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Broadband Forum Embraces SDN & NFV

10|9|15   |   02:42   |   (0) comments

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Robin Mersh and Kevin Foster from the Broadband Forum explain how the industry body is adapting to meet the SDN, NFV and cloud needs of the access network sector.
LRTV Interviews
Top Tips for FTTH Operators

10|8|15   |   02:26   |   (0) comments

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Ventura Team co-founder Richard Jones talks about some of the key business case considerations for FTTH network operators.
LRTV Interviews
M-net Calls for FTTx Unity

10|8|15   |   03:45   |   (0) comments

At the Gigabit Europe event, Jörn Schoof from M-net, the Munich city network operator, calls for industry collaboration on fiber broadband access rollouts.
LRTV Documentaries
The Business Case Challenge for NFV

10|7|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Virtual CPE is one of the early success stories for network functions virtualization, as service providers are finding flexible, programmable CPE solves a lot of logistics problems and reduces their cost. But even here, Masergy Communications faced a business case challenge, says CTO Tim Naramore.
LRTV Interviews
JT Offers Some Gigabit Lessons

10|7|15   |   4:08   |   (1) comment

Barna Kutvolgyi, managing director, Global Consumer, at JT, the incumbent operator on the island of Jersey, talks about how other service providers can learn from his company's gigabit broadband rollout experiences.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Chiosi on the Potential of Open Source

10|6|15   |   06:27   |   (0) comments

AT&T Distinguished Network Architect Margaret T. Chiosi talks to Light Reading's Carol Wilson about the potential for open source technology to liberate communications service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Network Security in a Gigabit World

10|6|15   |   05:52   |   (0) comments

Masergy's James Harrison talks about some of the network security and data center issues network operators need to consider as they expand their broadband services portfolios.
LRTV Documentaries
Telefónica: In Search of Virtual Simplicity

10|5|15   |   07:30   |   (0) comments

Francisco-Javier Ramon Salguero, head of Telefónica's NFV initiative, admits virtualization initially means greater complexity, but with the right abstraction layer, it is possible to create a services-driven network architecture. He explains how Telefónica's current trials and initiatives are aimed at doing that, and what his company and other carriers need to ...
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit Europe Takeaways

10|5|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Participants from the inaugural Gigabit Europe event in Munich share their key takeaways from the conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Intel Urges Women to Take Advantage of Their Seat at the Table

10|5|15   |   4:27   |   (1) comment

Have inclusive and constructive conversations, attach a bigger meaning to your work and get involved in the cause, Intel's Monique Hayward advises women in comms.
LRTV Interviews
BT Updates on Plans

10|2|15   |   03:16   |   (2) comments

Peter Bell, CIO at Openreach, the access network division at UK incumbent BT, provides an update on the operator's trials and how Openreach is planning to deploy the broadband technology in its street cabinets.
Upcoming Live Events
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Network appliances have a strong value proposition in today's networks and will continue to do so in the NFV and SDN-enabled networks of tomorrow.
Hot Topics
M&A Speculation Swirls Around Juniper
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/6/2015
Cisco's Chambers Rules Out Political Bid
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/6/2015
Infinera Fleshes Out Its Metro 100G Story
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/7/2015
AT&T Gets Green Light for VoWiFi
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 10/7/2015
Cord Cutting? 'Fraid so.
Brett Sappington, 10/7/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With so many new and exciting communications technologies now under development, it's easy to get caught up in the industry's escalating hype cycle. That's why the ...
Last week saw a big day in the 15-year history of Light Reading when Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre and I were invited to interview the Deputy Chairman and Rotating ...
Cats with Phones
"What?! I'm on with Finisar about their stock price tanking" Click Here