Given society’s reliance on the Internet from both a business and consumer perspective, the costs of data center downtime are enormous. On average, organizations lose $138,000 per hour due to data center downtime. And for some, the additional costs of lost business are even worse. In 2013, Amazon experienced just 49 minutes of downtime, which cost the company $4 million in lost sales. Likewise, over half of Fortune 500 companies experience at least 1.6 hours of downtime every single week.

While companies may believe that data center downtime is inevitable, the truth is that data center failure is preventable with the right technology and mindset. More specifically, brands should embrace the financial and reputational benefits of a predictive maintenance strategy.

The power of predictive

Fortune teller
– Thinkstock / jgroup

For a long time, companies have used reactive maintenance strategies to solve downtime issues. For example, if a server overheated, a worker would note the problem and then make the repair. It’s likely the outage was fixed, but downtime was already in motion. And often, the maintenance was documented by hand with spreadsheets or even physical files.

Maintenance has evolved with companies scheduling monthly or yearly maintenance based on historical data or typical asset lifespans. And this is certainly a good start, however, it’s still not enough to fully mitigate the financial devastation that even just a minute of data center downtime can bring.

Predictive maintenance based on real-time data is the obvious solution. Why? Because a predictive maintenance strategy helps companies anticipate data center issues before they happen. As the name suggests, the technique uses machine monitoring systems, real-time data, and a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) to help companies accurately predict when operational concerns will demand attention. Without any user interaction, a CMMS can evaluate the components of a system and schedule unanticipated work orders as necessary. For instance, a CMMS programmed to act on lag time or operational errors outside a given threshold can organize maintenance without employees ever lifting a finger.

In an industry where minutes can mean millions, predictive maintenance should be every company’s sidekick. Data centers use complex hardware that presents unforeseen problems that calendar-based maintenance checks simply cannot anticipate. A predictive strategy integrated with a CMMS can minimize, or even completely eliminate, these errors and the downtime they cause by focusing on how machines actually operate in real time.

The benefits of a predictive maintenance strategy

As a result of ensuring uninterrupted service to businesses and customers, predictive maintenance practices offer brands a number of benefits. First, the maintenance method saves companies money. Not only does the strategy’s predictive nature decrease scheduled maintenance fees, but its ability to reduce data center failures also spares companies from suffering the high costs associated with downtime.

Second, the approach helps companies run their operations more effectively. CMMS technology acts on asset performance in real time, which means that unexpected maintenance issues for critical equipment are solved faster. The warning condition of a machine can trigger worker notification, making it easier for maintenance to occur well before an issue escalates to the point of shutdown.

Third, a predictive maintenance strategy preserves companies’ reputations and relationships with consumers. From mobile phone users to air travelers, consumers rely on data-driven businesses daily and trust that organizations will always be fully functioning. As such, even incremental downtimes can cause customers to lose trust in a company and take their business elsewhere. Many brands have never experienced a PR nightmare, and a predictive approach to maintenance can help keep it that way.

And finally, predictive maintenance and data centers are a natural fit. Cloud-based CMMS vendors understand data centers because they run on them. This close partnership helps vendors register and address the unique needs of the data center industry. Vendors also recognize the importance of up-to-date training and work to ensure their technologies and teams have top-notch certifications and knowledge. Likewise, data centers are typically technology savvy, meaning their employees are more likely to understand and appreciate a modern maintenance approach.

With millions of dollars on the line, every second without a predictive maintenance strategy puts companies in potential financial peril. For today’s companies, now is the time to combat data center downtime with advanced maintenance practices.

Paul Lachance is the president of Smartware Group, the developer of Bigfoot CMMS.