Network downtime not as severe to users as IT pros think

IT managers criticize the success of their efforts to prevent and reduce network downtime.

End users and IT managers don't see eye-to-eye when it comes to how well IT does its job, but recent survey results show that IT gives itself poorer grades than the users they serve do.

IT organizations work to prevent and reduce downtime for the sake of the end-user experience, believing the worst-case scenario for learning of poor performance happens when users put in complaint calls to the helpdesk. Yet the results of an October survey conducted by business service management vendor Managed Objects reveal that IT is harder on itself and the community the technology teams serve think IT's work is more successful than IT does.

The survey posed a handful of questions to 156 IT managers and 561 business users that rely heavily on technology to accomplish their daily jobs and revealed that 54% of IT managers felt their teams did enough to prevent outages, while 84% of users believed IT efforts were sufficient. And 95% of users polled said IT is either as responsive or more responsive as an organization when compared with five years ago. Fewer IT managers, about 22%, found users more patient than five years ago. Instead more than half of IT managers said they felt users were the same, 17% said they experience less tolerant users and 8% even felt the business users they serve were much less patient.

A majority of users admitted their organizations experience outages sometimes (35%), rarely (54%) or never (3%) and 7% said downtime occurs often or very often. Close to 100% of users said an outage impacts the organization and more than 70% reported learning of the problem through experiencing it first-hand. Still more than 80% of users said the network downtime or performance issues are addressed either fairly or very quickly by the IT team. And 85% said they felt their IT team did "enough to reduce the duration of outages."

On the other hand, 15% of IT managers believed their organizations experienced outages either often or very often and none said their companies never experience an outage -- compared with 3% of users who reported no outages. And 6% of IT managers believed the typical IT outage had a very severe impact on the organization, compared with 16% of end users who expressed the same. The majority of IT managers (93%) reported outages cause very little, moderate or significant impact to the organization.

The survey revealed that IT groups perceive users to be more impatient with poorly performing applications and less tolerant of network downtime than they are in reality. But that is a good thing, Managed Objects officials said, because the perception drives IT to keep the network up, applications available and systems running smoothly.

"The perception of end-user impatience is a good thing. [IT managers] have clearly realized when performance issues make it all the way to the end-user experience, the IT team has let its organization down," said Siki Giunta, president and CEO Managed Objects.

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Denise Dubie

Network World
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