Power outages, software and hardware failures, and viruses plague computer systems, yet more than a quarter of information technology (IT) professionals are expected to deliver 100% availability (Chart).

To gauge the likelihood of critical system downtime from certain factors, the Liebert Corp., a Columbus, Ohio-based manufacturer of power, environmental, and monitoring systems, surveyed 500 network and facility managers. About 79% of the respondents considered downtime from human error to be possible or highly probable (Table).

To minimize the effect of human error on availability, Liebert advises IT professionals to reduce power system complexity and provide more thorough training. The survey also found that the availability requirements for 52% of the respondents is at least five nines, or less than six minutes of downtime per year. While many of the companies have high availability requirements, only about a third of the respondents knew how much an hour of downtime costs their organization. According to the report, this lack of knowledge limits their ability to evaluate the return on investment of systems that could provide higher availability.