Data Center Blackouts Are Still Prevalent and Getting Costlier

Published On
Mar 15, 2017

An increasingly connected world means that power outages of any kind are becoming more costly. For data center and IT managers, the consequences of such outages are even more significant. Unfortunately, the risk of outages doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

The 2016 Annual Blackout Tracker Report, released by Eaton, reported 3,879 power outages last year, affecting a total of 17.9 million people in the United States. Both of these numbers are significant increases from 2015, which saw 3,571 outages affecting 13.2 million people. Also, in 2016, the average outage lasted 48 minutes and affected 4,616 people.

California was the state with the most reported outages by a long shot, with 460. The states with the second-most outages, Texas and New York, both had 197. Most outages were caused by weather or downed trees (1,279), followed by faulty equipment or human error (925), unknown (818), vehicle accidents (483), planned outages (189), animals (169), theft or vandalism (13) and overdemand (3).

For data centers, the average cost of a single outage is $740,375, a figure the report calls “staggering.” The average total cost per minute of an unplanned outage is now $8,851, and that number also continues to grow. Quite simply, as the cost of outages continues to inflate, it is becoming even more imperative for data centers to find appropriate monitoring and backup solutions.

The report lists other steps that can be taken to mitigate the damage of an unplanned outage. IT professionals should practice how critical systems will be restored in the event of an emergency, review the IT environment on a regular basis, be sure to spread all critical functions across multiple systems and locations, stay up to date on the latest equipment and invest in high-quality backup solutions.

Because of the ongoing risk of these blackouts, the data center uninterrupted power system (UPS) market is expected to surge in the coming years. A recent Global Market Insights report projected the UPS market will pass $6.65 billion by 2022.

About the Author

Matthew Kraus

Matthew Kraus is director of communications at NECA and previously was senior editor of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR for five years. He can be reached at

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