Executives Say Software To Blame For Most IT Downtime

July 11, 2007
Homegrown applications comprise big slice of most infrastructures, yet managing application configurations remains a major challenge to many organizations.

When asked to identify the primary cause of IT downtime, IT managers polled in a recent survey are three times more likely to blame software application problems versus hardware failures, and four times more likely to do so if their organizations rely heavily on home-grown applications.

These results arise from a survey of more than 200 U.S. IT managers and senior leaders conducted in June by business service management leader Managed Objects. 61% of respondents reported that applications caused more of the downtime within their infrastructures, compared to only 21% who pointed to hardware as the culprit. An alarming 19% admitted they didn't even know which caused more of their organizations' IT outages.

Complicating the battle to reduce downtime is the pervasiveness of revenue-driving homegrown or custom applications within large companies' infrastructure, which can represent up to 90% of some organizations' application mix. Within organizations relying on more homegrown applications than off-the-shelf offerings, more than 80% of respondents blamed software as the primary cause of most outages.

These findings are significant seeing just how often application downtime occurs. 82% of surveyed organizations reported application outages in the last year significant enough to impact their businesses, at an average cost of more than $10,000 per hour and an average duration of between three and four hours.

Reducing downtime remains a persistent challenge despite a prioritization of infrastructure change management, evidenced by IT organizations assigning more than 10 people to the task of managing application configuration changes on average. This resource allocation may be a response to the volume of these configuration changes, with respondents reporting an average of over 115 per week, or more than one every 90 minutes. A second explanation for the high resource requirement may be a lack of comprehensive automation of change management processes, with only 7% of IT managers reporting full automation. 51 percent describe processes as more manual than automated, and this number jumps to 66% among companies whose infrastructures are dominated by homegrown applications.

Without expensive, custom-built "fingerprints", most of today's application discovery tools are blind to homegrown business applications. In response, companies such as Managed Objects are looking to fill that niche by launching tools designed specifically to go beyond traditional application dependency mapping tools by giving companies a faster, easier, and automated way to map and manage the relationships, dependencies, and configurations associated with today's custom, home-grown enterprise business applications.

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