How Can Businesses Avoid Loss Due to Power Outages?

May 11, 2018

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

Power outages are inevitable, and they’re unpredictable.  If you’ve followed the Power Protection Resource, you know that power outages can happen for any number of reasons, from weather and wildlife to equipment failure and human error.  Regardless of the length of an outage, the damage to businesses can be significant, today more than ever.  Most businesses are heavily dependent upon technology for their operational capabilities.  When outages, spikes, surges, or brownouts happen, they can impact businesses in several ways.

Damage to equipment

All the technology that enables businesses to function – servers, switches, routers, communications systems, storage, firewalls and other infrastructure – all run on electrical power.  When a power disturbance occurs – such as when a transformer blows – a strong surge is often triggered running immediately into your offices and equipment.  The damage to sensitive boards and circuits can be instantaneous.

Power loss or fluctuation can easily break the circuitry inside hardware, causing them to fail instantly.  The cost to repair or replace systems can be significant, including actual replacement costs plus the time to install and configure new equipment.  During this time, those resources will also be unavailable, causing disruption to business activity, including internal and external communications.  It can take communications systems, business applications, even websites offline for hours, days, or even weeks, depending on the availability of new equipment and resources.  Even if the rest of the equipment is fully functional, damage to critical components, like firewalls or security solutions, can put businesses at significant risk.

It may be that damage isn’t evident and systems appear to be operating normally after an outage.  But, it’s very possible that circuitry has been weakened, making them more susceptible to breakage during the next surge or outage.

Data/Software loss

Servers and hard drives are extremely vulnerable when they experience unexpected shutdowns due to loss of power.  Data can be corrupted or lost, and drives can be permanently damaged.  Lost data can impact internal operations, communications, as well as customer records.  Data recovery can take hours or days, and any data that was not backed up may not even be recoverable and can cost businesses in time, lost business, and reputation.

Software and applications can also be corrupted, requiring re-installation and configuration.  Even of no data recovery is required, the cost in time can be significant.

Downtime/Business Continuity

This may be the most obvious result of power being lost, but it results in lost revenue opportunities for any business.  Because applications, data, and communication all rely on network systems, power outages render then ineffective.  Even laptops with extended batteries won’t have access to network resources.  Deadlines, meetings, customer service, sales and all other daily activities come to a standstill.

Power Protection Systems

By turning to power protection products, such as uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and power management solutions, companies can save tens or hundreds of thousands in lost equipment and business opportunity.  These devices are placed between incoming power sources and the equipment in data centers or offices they are designed to protect.  They are available in many different capacities and configurations to handle individual offices and entire data centers and provide backup power to allow for proper shutdown of systems, or even keep systems operational for periods of time, depending on their capacity.  They also regulate power to eliminate damage from surges or spikes.

It’s easy to overlook the importance of power protection systems, especially since the damage and interruption to business is unpredictable.  But, the unpredictability is exactly why they should be on the short-term roadmap for every business and part of the next budget discussion.  Businesses invest heavily in their technology and staff – part of ensuring maximum return on those investments should be protecting their availability.

Edited by Erik Linask