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Application downtime, whether you're measuring intermittent availability or fully downed systems, is too costly to ignore. The best way to avoid trouble is to view the infrastructure through the eyes of your transactions.

Few items on the CIO's agenda today are more important than application availability. Today's mission-critical and emerging web-based applications are the backbone for more financial transactions than ever before. They're also integrating partners and suppliers more tightly than was possible just five years ago, and they're often the front-line provider of customer service. These reasons, among many others, are why application outages, ranging from intermittent brownouts to outright crashes, simply are too costly to ignore.

Application management is a multifaceted challenge

It's important to focus not just on fully downed applications, as many observers do, but on those intermittent moments of poor application performance when employees, business partners, suppliers, and customers end up staring at a swirling timer and are forced to wait too long -- or grow impatient and give up entirely. Organizations that don't have cross-tier, end-to-end visibility into business transactions expose themselves to the significant risk of outages, poor customer satisfaction, and lost customers. But few organizations are aware of just how costly the spectrum of application outages can be.

When it comes to application outages, many different factors come into play. Disruptions can be caused by databases, servers, load-balancing problems, network performance, and possibly the design of the application itself. Adding to the complexity is the fact that applications are hyper-dependent on an ever-increasing number of components that reach across the entire IT infrastructure. It's an intricate matrix that spans applications, servers, and sometimes organizational domains. This is why the ability to predict impending outages, as well as to spot the root cause of availability issues, can be so complex.

The costs of application outages

Getting to the precise costs of application outages isn't easy, and can be as complex as identifying the precise reasons for availability disruptions and outages themselves. Recent research from Enterprise Management Associates suggests that when one looks across industry sectors and organizational size, from the low mid-tier to the large enterprise, the average cost of a single hour of application downtime is about $45,000. That cost, analysts say, can be exponentially higher for high-value and transaction-intensive verticals, such as financial services, where application outages can cost millions of dollars each minute.


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