Network outages are increasing but power system failures are not to blame for the great majority of them, according to researchers at the Uptime Institute. The biggest cause of network downtime is the complexity of the enterprise computing environment itself.

Ann Bednarz reported on the growing impact of network outages for NetworkWorld:

One key finding from Uptime Institute’s research: Power is less implicated in overall failures, while the network and IT systems are more implicated.

One reason for the shift is that power systems are performing more reliably than they have in the past, which is reducing the number of on-premises data-center power failures.

Over the past two decades, the tech industry has focused on how to design power systems in way that allows IT assets to continue to operate even if there’s a fault or failure somewhere in the power system, said Chris Brown, CTO of Uptime Institute. “The advent of 2N electrical distribution systems feeding dual-corded IT equipment allows systems in IT to continue to operate through a number of single incidents and events,” Brown said.

Meanwhile, the increasing complexity of IT environments is leading to greater numbers of IT- and network-related problems. “Data now is spread across multiple places with some critical dependencies upon the network, the way that applications [are architected], and the way that databases replicate. It’s a very complex system, and it takes less today to perturb that system than perhaps in years past,” said Todd Traver, Uptime Institute’s vice president of IT optimization and strategy.


When Uptime Institute examined all publicly reported data center-outages (Levels 1 to 5) over the three-year period, IT system and network problems outstripped power as the primary cause.