Websites, SaaS and web apps do suffer from downtime and slowdowns. These problems can result in a loss of revenues, customers and even reputation. Amazon looses $310,000 for every 10 minutes of downtime!! Can downtime be avoided? Yes, it can. The root cause of most slowdowns or downtime is bad planning. But very occasionally it is bad luck.
The root cause of downtime: Plan to fail or fail to plan..
Just as a new building requires good design so does the software and hardware foundations of a new website/web app. Both buildings and web systems also need regular maintenance or they will break. Everyone knows this, right. Unfortunately these basic principles are sometimes forgotten during planning and once systems are operational. The result is unplanned downtime or slow downs. According to Yankee Group:
“The major causes of Web site downtime are both technical – such as power outages, network failure, application problems and lax security – and human – such as inadequate staffing and monitoring or a lack of recovery planning.”
Causality (cause & effect) is at work here. Downtime is the effect and the caused is often from one or several of the following:
- Poor code or app - Poorly written or design code causes downtime. It can also be a result of unsuitable platform or an app that’s been shoes horned into doing something it was not intended.
- Under capacity infrastructure - Hardware and software demands grow and change over time. One eye must always be kept on capacity and performance. Web infrastructure monitoring can help avoid this.
- Overloaded comms- This is probably the most difficult area to keep under control. You have to rely on a comms provider/ISP. So choose a good one. And don’t skip on the plan. If you do keep a eye on capacity. Website performance monitoring can help.
- Insufficient systems admin and management – Procedures and processes keep systems healthy and in tip top shape. Outsource it if you must. Again Website monitoring helps warn of growing problems.
- Bad luck - Multiple failures and failure of backup/contingency systems take websites down. At this point the disaster recovery plan should kick in. Unfortunately many people don’t have one of these.
The only point from the above list that can’t be avoided or planned for is Bad Luck. When website or web app revenues stakes are high why gamble with the chance of downtime or slowdowns. The blame for downtime often lies with poor management decisions. Corners are cut on resources. However as a business owner it’s a tough choice. Over architect and resources are wasted. Under architect capacity and your potentially setting up a problem for the future.