Business leaders are always quick to opine about the accelerating pace of innovation, but rarely have the context to understand how fast it really is. And sometimes, all that’s needed is a simple timeline that shows how global technology providers have advanced from an on-premise landscape to one that is increasingly in the cloud.

If we start the timeline at 1999, innovation progressed relatively and predictably slow with one or two products being released every one or two years. Then as software providers—including SAP—began to focus their development resources and investments to become a cloud company in 2012, technology advanced faster and more intelligently year after year. And now, we’re at the point where applications and certifications can be designed, delivered, and implemented in a matter of months.

The speed at which new business solutions are introduced nowadays is undoubtedly mind-boggling. But it also poses a level of risk that comes with a startling high price tag.

Confronting a $10,000-Per-Minute “Inconvenience”

“We often see applications, such as those from SAP, as the primary system operating the enterprise. As such, downtime is not only frowned upon, but also an expensive problem,” observed Jim O’Donnell, an SAP alliance solution architect at Red Hat.

Ponemon Institute reported that just one minute of downtime in a data center or critical application costs the average enterprise almost $10,000 in 2019—and that figure has steadily increased over the past five years.

To put it into context, that one minute of downtime can cost 38 times more than the money Michael Jordan made each minute during the height of his career. Of course, no business can afford to pay such a price tag on any given day. But 38 times more for just one minute? That’s insane.

For years, I have heard ASUG members express the same sentiment, and they have invested a great deal of time and capital into ensuring that downtime is as rare as possible. Being particularly sensitive to service interruptions, they have become experts in fending off downtime, particularly the unplanned variety.

“Red Hat’s research shows that SAP customers’ efforts are working,” O’Donnell said. “Unplanned downtime only accounts for approximately 10% of all downtime. About half of unexpected outages come from human error or malfeasance. The other half stems from failures in the external deployment environment or infrastructure, such as issues with change control and network monitoring and security.”

Finding Vulnerabilities Before They Can Become Real Issues

Like most engineering challenges, unplanned downtime cannot be “fixed” by throwing considerable money at it. Instead, businesses need a comprehensive strategy for automation, integration, cloud-ready DevOps, and containerized delivery.

According to O’Donnell, “Regardless of where SAP workloads run in a hybrid cloud landscape, customers that build on a ‘Red Hat first’ foundation to modernize their SAP software landscape can significantly reduce unplanned downtime. But that’s not all. They can realize other advantages such as lower operating costs, improved margins, better utilization of IT staff, continuous innovation, and increased agility and deployment.”

The business goal is to reduce the cost and impact of routine maintenance of the database, applications, operating systems, and services, which is most commonly enabled in a two-tier architecture. This approach applies to any care for a database server, whether it’s a patch or parameter for SAP HANA or another operating system, tuning, or hardware maintenance. The ultimate criterion is fully automating the process to lower (if not eliminate) risk.

“While absolute zero downtime may be technically impossible to achieve, no window or service

interruption should impact users, batch processes, or other upstream or downstream systems. We found the best way to achieve this ideal scenario is implementing an automation platform,” O’Donnell advised.

Fueling Future Growth with High Availability

Businesses depend on their critical business systems for their current survival and future growth. One unplanned outage not only leads to significant financial loss, but also risks the trust and confidence of customers and employees. And all too often, this outcome results in closed accounts, lost sales, and talent turnover.

Long-time SAP partners, such as Red Hat, understand the value of setting a foundation of great design, speed, and high availability when helping SAP customers keep up with the pace of technology innovation. With their guidance, businesses can regain the cost of downtime as much as possible to deliver greater value to their employees and customers and move ahead the competition.

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