Two Kinds of Unplanned Downtime


Unplanned downtime also known as outages fall into 2 categories:

1. "Planned" Unplanned Downtime
Might be easier to remember this if it was called a scheduled unplanned outage. In these scenarios, there is a system degradation type incident occurring. Essentially, the service is so slow it is having a negative effect on production. Or, there is a bug in an application which has been detected and an emergency change needs to be deployed immediately to fix it. In either scenarios, multiple tickets get logged with the Service Desk. A resolution plan is determined by IT which requires a planned unplanned outage to occur.

Here is an example of a "planned" unplanned outage: It has been determined that the email system is crawling. The IT leader determines that the resolution requires that the Microsoft exchange server to be rebooted. The communication manager sends the downtime notice to the entire company.

"Email will not be available between 1-1:30 p.m. while we execute an emergency maintenance initiative. We apologize for the inconvenience."

At 1 p.m., the IT team takes down of the email service in a controlled manner. They restart the services and then communicate to the users that email is now available. The IT team did not plan to do this at the beginning of the day. But, once they understood the solution to the problem required downtime, they executed and communicated the event to the users.

2. "Unplanned" Unplanned Downtime
The "unplanned" unplanned outage which might be easier to remember if it was called an unscheduled unplanned downtime. These outages occur when a service becomes unexpectedly unavailable by the IT assets own volition.

For example, a server crashes which causes an internal installation of Microsoft Exchange to become unavailable. The end result is that the company's email is now unavailable. Nobody knew that this was going to happen. It just did. Now, the entire company is without email.


What is Downtime?

Downtime is another way of saying a system is not available to the users. It is also referred to as an outage. While downtime can be planned months in advance, it is typically not and is often a surprise.


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Downtime is a term used to describe when a service is unavailable to its intended recipients. While downtime can be planned months in advance, it is typically not and is often a surprise.

Most downtime events are unplanned and caused by a failure or are triggered on short notice and occur as a result of an attempt to fix a service that is not performing at its optimal level.

Signs & Symptoms
Downtime is the number one cause of financial harm yet most IT leaders don't understand the signs and symptoms of an environment that experiences too much unplanned downtime.

Sure it's easy to surmise that the systems are offline more than they should be especially when management is enraged but there are legitimate signs and symptoms which will allow you to reduce the frequency and impact of unplanned outages.

  • Unauthorized Changes
  • High amounts of Unplanned Work
  • Low Throughput of Effective Change
  • Server to Administrator Rations < 100:1
  • Lack of Indicator Measurements
  • SLA Commitment Breaches
Related Conditions

Low Throughput of Effective Change

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Top 3 Ways To Prevent Downtime

1. Implement Preventative Maintenance Schedules

2. Execute Pre Business System Checks

3. Implement Measurements & Indicators

Implement Preventative Maintenance Schedules

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