Measuring the business impact of outages and events

Sample SLA dashboardBusiness alignment is perhaps the most overly abused buzzword by marketers in the IT monitoring industry.  Virtually every vendor in the space claims that their solution can deliver tighter business alignment, but when you start to ask specifics on just how they accomplish this, the smoke and mirrors become quickly visible.  In reality, most solutions merely offer service buckets to which monitored assets can be associated.

At FireScope, we have spent considerable time and effort trying to find better, practical ways of helping IT integrate with the rest of the business.  One of the ways we do this is by helping IT prioritize efforts based on how they impact the business, and the best way to communicate this impact is in financial terms.

FireScope offers customers three ways to quantify the business impact of outages or events to help IT align efforts with business priorities:

1)     Business data can be directly collected by the solution and normalized into the same Big Data store as the technology metrics being collected, enabling it to display or analyze the associated business impact to correlated performance or availability issues.  This same data can also be used by FireScope’s built-in reporting engine for historic analysis or FireScope Analytics for predictive analysis.

2)     Users can specify a cost per hour or day tied to specific policies, SLAs or SLOs, which the solution uses to automatically calculate a real-time total cost for each incidence of non-compliance based on duration.

3)     Additionally, a financial metric may be attached to the frequency of event occurrence (e.g. if a server fails to respond to a specific request more than 3 times in an hour, apply $XXX cost burden to incident)

SLA Performance, just one of the many visual controls available in FireScope dashboards

Why is this Important?

Excellent question!  This changes the picture for IT in several ways.  First, IT never faces just one fire to put out.  Dozens of issues are likely being dealt with at any given moment, and one of the biggest problems for IT is focusing limited resources on the most critical problems.  All too often, there’s no other choice but to follow the ‘first reported, first responded’ model.  But, if operators can financially measure the pain of an issue, they can focus on the issues at most risk to revenue or productivity loss.  For example, if I have three outages and my FireScope dashboard shows that Incident A is costing $1500/hr of loss, Incident B is $65700/hr and Incident C is $250/hr, deciding to focus my attention on Incident B becomes a no-brainer.

Another way this changes the picture is the communication between IT and the rest of the business.  Business leaders have never, and will never, want to discuss disk utilization, latency or throughput – they simply can’t relate this to how it helps them grow the business.  But, if we can tie how these metrics are impacting critical services and associate a financial metric, the discussion transforms to one  the line of business leaders can relate to their personal goals and concerns.

It’s a misnomer that business owners want to spend less on technology.  The truth is that they want to spend smarter, and want to know that their investments are going to support business objectives and growth.  By adding the financial dimension to IT’s visibility, FireScope helps our customers change the discussion between IT and the business, a critical and practical step toward better alignment between IT and the business.

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