Iris Zarecki

The Day After: What should United, NYSE, WSJ Do Next?

  • July 9, 2015
  • 2 min read

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The media and Twitter have been abuzz about the string of outages that hit three major companies yesterday. United Airlines, the NY Stock Exchange, and the Wall Street Journal all experienced outages that were very public, prolonged, and painful. But they were also very predictable.

Cyberattack or Infrastructure Failure?

While the media rushed to sound the alarm of a coordinated cyberattack, the reality was much more mundane. As one of the experts interviewed by the LA Times said: “These are incredibly complicated systems. There are lots and lots of failure modes that are not thoroughly understood.”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to those of us who are tasked with keeping critical systems up and running. The latest service availability survey shows that cyberattacks account for just 10% of all outages. The real top causes for outages are hardware failure, systems upgrades and migrations, and human errors.

Causes for outages

Where is the Real Danger to Our Infrastructure?

This begs the question: why all the hoopla around cybersecurity while the real danger lies in our own operational shortcomings? It may be the same reason the US government invests so much money in airport security while thousands of people die every year from simple mistakes at the country’s hospitals.

Regardless of the answer, I think it is clear that as the stewards of the organization’s operational systems, we need to take additional measures to prevent the very preventable mistakes that hurt our customers and our business.

Is There Anything We Can Do to Prevent the Next Outage?

Easier said than done, I know. You already invest substantial amounts in systems and equipment that should help you prevent outages. So do the NYSE, Wall Street Journal, and United Airlines.

To help you figure out whether you are making the right investments, we’ve put together an infographic with five questions to ask when evaluating an IT outage prevention solution.

There will be outages in critical business systems today too. They may not be as high profile as the ones we saw yesterday. But they will impact customers’ lives, damage the brands of the organizations operating these services, and maybe even put the jobs of some IT people at risk.

So what should United, NYSE, WSJ do next? Even more importantly, what should you do?

Check out our blog post offering four things you need to do before your next outage.

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