Rich Miller – The Year in Downtime: The Top 10 Outages of 2013

Fires. Floods. Power problems. Software updates gone bad. Thermal events. There was a wide range of causes for data center downtime in 2013. The year’s major outages covered the spectrum, affecting clouds, companies, payment networks and governments at the federal, state and local level.

Each incident caused pain for customers and end users, but also offered the opportunity to learn lessons that will make data centers and applications more reliable. Here’s a look at our list of the Top 10 outages of 2013:

1. The Disaster: Downtime doesn’t get much more epic than this. The federal government’s online insurance marketplace has become the poster child for an IT project gone wrong. It wasn’t just a matter of a single downtime incident, it was a series of hard outages and an ongoing soft outage in which the site was barely functional. They tried adding more hardware, but it wasn’t until the Obama administration’s “IT surge” addressed software and data bottlenecks that the site became usable in early December. Given the status of the Affordable Care Act as the signature legislation, and the accompanying political scrutiny, the web site’s performance amounted to a perfect storm of the many ways in which key systems can fail. If nothing else, transformed web site performance into front page news.

2. Major Outage for BlueHost, HostGator, HostMonster – The year’s most extensive web hosting downtime occurred Aug. 2, when a Utah data center supporting some of the industry’s best known brands suffered extended networking outage. The problems at a Provo, Utah facility operated by Endurance International Group led to downtime for customers of BlueHost, HostGator and HostMonster. Endurance attributed the incident to a hardware failure during routine server maintenance that “quickly cascaded throughout the network.”

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