The Raritan Blog

Which Data Center Power Outages Are Preventable?

Michael Bord
March 16, 2016

Compared to a decade ago, downtime caused by data center power outages is exceedingly rare.  However, they can cost companies tens of thousands of dollars or more when they do occur.  Should all power outages be accepted as an unavoidable part of data center reality? Or, are there some data center power outages that are actually preventable?

First, let’s dig into the cost.   In January of 2016, Robert Gates of TechTarget reported:

The Ponemon Institute's statistics -- based on confidential interviews with operators of 63 data centers to update two similar studies in 2010 and 2013 -- calculated a data center outage costs businesses an average of $8,851 per minute.

But some industry experts quoted in the article felt that the study’s figures were on the low side.  

Paul Hines of Sentinel Data Centers believed the figure was closer to $10,000 per minute.  As an example, he noted that a downed ERP system tied to a company’s manufacturing would bring costs even higher.

Read more of Gates’ article in the latest edition of the Hot Aisle.

Regardless of what factors you take into consideration, it’s clear that outages can take a big bite out of a company’s bottom line.  So what are some of the causes of unplanned outages?

According to the study, the causes range from UPS and battery failure to cybercrime.  But, one of the most common and preventable causes was human error, cited in 22% of outages. 

It’s for this exact reason that Raritan offers PDU locking power cords.  Consider how Yahoo! Japan was able to improve service infrastructure performance with Raritan PDUs in 2014.  According to Yahoo! JAPAN’s Jun Akiyama, prior to introducing these PDUs:

“The cables disconnect from the PDU sometimes when workers accidentally come in contact with cables, which were already inadvertently loosened by vibration and exhaust heat in the back of server racks.”

After deployment, the number of these incidents fell to zero wherever Raritan PDUs were in use.

Another feature of the PDU that helps lower the incidence of outages caused by human error is color.  Color helps technicians identify power feeds and ensure all equipment has a secondary power source.  

They may seem minor, but these small changes can prevent thousands of dollars in losses due to unplanned downtime. 

Learn more about preventing error with colored rack PDUs from Raritan.