Data Center Report Fewer Outages, But Downtime Still Costly

Elie Byrne
September 20, 2023

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Data center operators say the number and severity of outages have decreased in the past few years. However, when significant outages do occur, the costs remain significant.

In 2023, 55% of data center operators suffered an outage in the past three years. That’s down from 60% in 2022, 69% in 2021, and 78% in 2020, according to a recent Uptime Institute survey, which polled more than 850 data center operators and owners.

Outage severity has slightly decreased as well. In 2023, 10% of respondents suffered severe or serious outages, down from 14% a year ago. Another 17% of respondents in 2023 said they had significant outages.

The cost of the most serious outages remains high. In 2023, 54% of those surveyed said their most recent significant, serious, or severe outage cost them more than $100,000. Nearly one in six – or 16% – said an outage cost them more than $1 million, according to the Uptime Institute Global Data Center Survey 2023.

Power Problems Are the Top Cause of Outages

On-site power issues are the primary reason, causing 52% of data center outages in 2023. “IT hardware cannot tolerate significant disturbances, such as major voltage sags and swells or the complete loss of power, for more than a tiny fraction of a second,” the report’s authors wrote.

Cooling problems ranked second, causing 19% of the outages. However, failure or the underperformance of cooling systems can be tolerated for minutes rather than seconds, the report said. The other top causes of outages were third-party providers (9%), hardware and software (8%) and network problems (7%).

Many data center operators have updated their data centers, added redundancies, and identified risks to prevent more serious outages, the Uptime Institute researchers said in a recent Network World article. 

“Data centers have newer equipment; thus, the outages the data center will face due to day-to-day operations is probably less for a few years. And people have been putting a lot of effort into avoiding those severe and significant outages because of the cost associated with them,” said Uptime Institute Chief Technical Officer Chris Brown in the article.

Data center operators have invested in both power and cooling systems to improve redundancy. In 2023, 58% of enterprises surveyed said they added power redundancy, while 61% improved cooling redundancy, the survey found.

Legrand offers a family of Server Technology Intelligent Rack PDUs that help organizations prevent outages through features such as advanced power quality monitoring and circuit breaker trip forensics.

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