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Deadly Downtime: The Worst Network Outages Of 2013

When the network is down, nobody is happy. Take a lesson from these major outages in 2013 so we won't see them repeated in the new year.
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The more we rely on technology, the more devastating it is when there's a network or systems failure. And no matter how many redundancies and failovers service providers and private businesses build into their backup plans, it's amazing how one small blip in the wire can still bring everything to a screeching halt.

Sometimes it's just an annoyance. Imagine my husband's extreme irritation when, three-quarters of the way through the season finale of Sons of Anarchy, our television screen suddenly displayed "Attention: Your Explorer settop is NOT AUTHORIZED for use. Please call: (800) 266-22XX."

More serious outages cause business disruptions, which can result in reduced productivity, damage to reputation, breaches in security, and lost revenue. According to network services company MegaPath, the average cost of downtime equates to $212,200 per hour -- a figure that can skyrocket for web- and network-based businesses. In August, the Amazon.com website went down for a period of 30 to 40 minutes, costing the company between $3 and $4 million.

In worst-case scenarios, crippled networks can render emergency services and public safety communications systems useless. The countrywide outage of Canada's Rogers Wireless in October left millions of customers without access to 911, with city officials advising people to use neighbors' landlines or phones at nearby stores in case of an emergency.

No company is immune, no matter how sophisticated its technology. In 2013, some of the largest and most well-known technology companies in the world experienced downtime because of network failures. Companies such as Google, NASA, Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, and others all reported outages stemming from some problem in the network.

Whether downtime is caused by a faulty piece of hardware, a software bug, a configuration error, or a denial-of-service attack, it causes the same response in customers, employees, users, and the IT professionals responsible for that network: Sheer panic.

So don't sit idly by and wait for the next time a problem brings your network to its knees. Take a gander at the top network outages of 2013. Learn what you can from these companies' misfortunes and try to avoid the same fate.

Photo by Marcelo Graciolli.

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tsangk
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tsangk,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/10/2014 | 9:59:43 AM
Solution to network outages
Hi everyone,

Kevin Tsang here with SevOne. With the examples you've provided, it is clear that almost every industry is susceptible to network outages. Therefore I'd like to introduce a unique solution to this dilemma that would allow for all types of businesses to avoid the detriments of network downtime.

We here at SevOne provide the world's fastest, most scalable performance monitoring platform. An all-in-one solution, SevOne detects and alerts on network events before they impact businesses. SevOne developed a next-generation technology called the SevOne Cluster™ that incorporates the cutting edge principles behind distributed computing to address any scalability concerns. SevOne monitors millions of objects across multiple technologies from a single pane of glass. Customers including the top cable companies, wireless network and managed service providers, and top financial services institutions rely on SevOne to monitor the performance of their critical infrastructure. With our solution, companies will have greater insight into their networks and prevent outages before they even happen.

For anyone interested in downloading our software, check us out here:

https://sevone.com/solutions/network-performance-management
samicksha
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samicksha,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/26/2013 | 2:59:38 AM
Re: Plan B
@J_Brandt: I understand your point, but i guess this increase your total IT expense as keeping data local and in the cloud will ask for good money in hand.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/26/2013 | 12:42:58 AM
Re: Nothing Compares to Life
Alison, 

". . . whenever 911 or hospitals systems go black, people can actually die. And that cannot be measured on a balance sheet."

True. Unfortunately, it seems like the first worry most people have is about how much companies have lost in a thirty-minute outage. 

An outage in a hospital without a good emergency backup system might be used as a wake up call after they lose some patients for this. Saving money in not having a proper emergency system can be costly in human lives. 

-Susan 
aditshar
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aditshar,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/25/2013 | 5:24:28 AM
Re: Plan B
I guess the Dad of worst outage 2013 was Healthcare.gov, wherein It wasn't just a matter of a single downtime incident, it was a series of hard outages and an ongoing soft outage in which the site was barely functional.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/24/2013 | 3:54:19 PM
Re: Plan B
So, Amazon lost $30-40 million from being down 30-40 minutes? That means every ten minutes, the company makes $10 million. Or, roughly $1 million per minute. Can you imagine the cost that would be incurred if the site went down during the holiday season?

I wonder how many IT pros are on call during this time of year for Amazon. 
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/24/2013 | 1:12:49 PM
No network, no cloud
These are only the bigger network outages, there is plenty of others. Having entire businesses rely on cloud services does not sound like that good of an idea. While cloud services have merit, we enjoy a badly maintained infrastructure that lags behind compared to the networks available in Europe while paying way more for service. Maybe priorities need shift from quarterly numbers to long term gain, but I doubt that will ever happen.
Alison Diana
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Alison Diana,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/24/2013 | 11:32:02 AM
Nothing Compares to Life
When emergency services go down, we really recognize how invaluable and critical our networks are. Money is, of course, important. In addition to its face value, jobs rest on dollars, yen, pounds, and euros. But whenever 911 or hospitals systems go black, people can actually die. And that cannot be measured on a balance sheet. 
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/24/2013 | 10:29:48 AM
Re: Plan B
That redundancy makes a lot of sense to me! Thanks.
J_Brandt
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J_Brandt,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/24/2013 | 10:28:33 AM
Re: Plan B
A combination of those two - depending on the type of data.
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/24/2013 | 10:24:41 AM
Re: Plan B
J-Brandt -- Is your Plan B a local data option as a redundancy to cloud storage. Or are you saying you prefer keeping all data local? 
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