Minimizing Network Downtime in the Age
of Digital Transformation

By: Gary Marks

In the digital transformation era, businesses across all industries rely increasingly on the network. Maintaining an “always-on” network is crucial to ensuring the effectiveness of this era's various technologies. Whether it be robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT) or advanced analytics and cloud solutions, these technologies rely on a consistent network connection to remain operational. One disruption could grind essential operations to a devastating and costly halt, causing significant damage to brand reputation and business relationships.

The transformative shift toward automation through generative artificial intelligence (Gen AI) and machine learning (ML), and the processes they enable, would not be possible without continuous network uptime. Should a network outage occur, automated Gen AI-powered chatbots, for example, could not interface with customers to collect payments, answer questions, etc. Likewise, remote work, which requires digital tools for communication and collaboration purposes, can become compromised if the network falters.

Put simply, network downtime is one of the greatest threats to efficiency, success, and prosperity for any business engaged in digital transformation. Unfortunately, but perhaps unsurprisingly, 96 percent of U.S. businesses experience at least one outage quarterly. As this article will later discuss, digital transformation is one of the primary drivers for this increased frequency of network outages. To that end, it is of the utmost importance that enterprises build a more resilient and robust network capable of enduring disruptions to normal operations, thereby safeguarding digital transformation efforts.

Why Digital Transformation Increases the Risks of Network Downtime

The technologies and innovations brought on by digital transformation support unprecedented performance, flexibility, and productivity. Other benefits of digital transformation include improved decision-making, profitability, and sustainability, as well as enhanced connectivity between information technology (IT) and operational technology systems. Nevertheless, this rapid increase in complexity places an enormous strain on the network, skyrocketing the risk of disruption and downtime.

Simultaneously, digital transformation widens the attack surface, increasing the likelihood of network outages. The highly interconnected nature of enterprises (especially those that employ thousands of IoT devices) opens new pathways for bad actors to slip undetected into an enterprise’s digital environment. Once inside, they can manipulate control systems, steal sensitive information, and access critical network applications. Complex software stacks, for instance, need routine updates, where they are temporarily vulnerable to bugs, exploits, and cyberattacks. Remote workforces also present new security challenges for businesses and exploitation opportunities for bad actors. Internal or external, these threats often have a domino effect, creating prolonged network downtime.

Other factors that might trigger network downtime include, but aren’t limited to, Internet service provider issues, fiber cuts, and human error. Unplanned maintenance can also force businesses to shut down the network temporarily. Additionally, naturally occurring events, such as severe weather or natural disasters, while rarer, can jeopardize network uptime.

The Consequences of Network Downtime

The consequences of network downtime can be severe and far-reaching. Perhaps the most obvious effect of a disruption is the cost, which, for an average business, is $4,344 per minute. And considering an average outage lasts at least five minutes, those businesses, at minimum, are taking a $21,720 hit every time an outage occurs. Furthermore, enterprises can get behind schedule if the network and all the digital technologies it powers stop functioning. Likewise, consumers can't access online services, degrading customer experience and damaging brand reputation. A company notorious for network outages is less likely to retain and attract customers or maintain partnerships, further impacting its bottom line.

Worst of all, downtime may impede digital transformation efforts, as IT personnel and technicians are constantly putting out fires rather than focusing on innovation. In many cases, network engineers must also travel on-site to physically remediate issues and restore operations, which can be an arduous and time-consuming process. Other non-technical employees within the organization are impacted similarly by downtime. Most workers need a stable network connection to perform their jobs. Even clocking in may be impossible during downtime. This ordeal is stressful for everyone, reducing staff morale and productivity while potentially increasing turnover.

What is Out-of-Band Management?

Enterprises need a network solution to minimize downtime, maintain operations in the face of faults and safeguard digital transformation. One leading approach that businesses should use to foster a more resilient network is out-of-band


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