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Typically, when managed service providers (MSPs) make the initial case for their services much of their focus tends to be trying to determine the number of outages any organization has experienced. The theory is that organizations that have experienced the pain and agony of  IT outages will be more likely to consider employing managed services.

However, a survey of 300 IT managers published today by LogicMonitor, a provider of network monitoring tools, finds brownouts are almost as big of an issue. The average organization surveyed experienced five outages and five brownouts within the past three years. One in 10 organizations suffered through 10 or more outages and 10 or more brownouts in that same three years.

Brownouts should not be taken lightly

Brownouts may not be as catastrophic as outright outages, but they still have much the same financial impact. Costs from outages and brownouts span lost revenue, lost productivity, compliance costs, mitigation costs, brand damage, and, in some cases, even lower stock prices.

Overall, the LogicMonitor survey reveals that organizations with frequent outages and brownouts experience up to 16x higher costs when mitigating and recovering from downtime than companies with fewer instances.

The primary causes of outages and brownouts are network failure, usage spikes/surges, human error, software malfunction, infrastructure hardware failure, and third-party provider outages. Unsurprisingly, survey respondents admitted that at least 51 percent of outages and 53 percent of brownouts were avoidable. The top two issues cited for not being able to avoid these events were failing to notice when usage is trending towards a dangerous level and failing to notice that critical performance metrics are trending steadily downward.

Brownouts are not easily definable

The average end user would probably believe there are a lot more IT brownouts than outages. The IT systems may be up and running, but little work is actually being accomplished because application response times are abysmal.

It’s safe to assume there are a lot more brownouts than IT teams may have been made aware of. Many end users have given up complaining about them, and instead  they try again later after going out for a cup of coffee.

Savvy MSPs will probe deeper when trying to get customers to realize they need the expertise of an MSP. After all, internal IT teams are going to be a little reticent when it comes to revealing the true state of their operations.

In fact, the LogicMonitor survey notes that more than half of the respondents (53 percent) expect someone to lose their job whenever an outage or brownout become severe enough to make national news. The irony is that even though many internal IT teams view MSPs as an existential threat to their continued existence, it’s often the services provided by the MSPs that prevents the outage or brownout that would lead to someone getting fired in the first place.

There’s clearly an opportunity for MSPs to present themselves as the best friend an internal IT team ever had. The challenge often comes down to inducing individuals that are somewhat frightened to begin with, and helping them learn how to trust again.

Photo: wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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