The total cost of US airline Delta's recent five-hour IT outage was estimated at $150 million (£114 million). The outage saw over 2,000 flights either cancelled or massively delayed for three days in August.


This figure shows that even a small amount of IT downtime can have an impact on an organisation and should be a warning to others, according to Peter Groucutt, managing director at Databarracks.


Groucutt says it is imperative that businesses take action and ensure that effective disaster recovery and business continuity plans are in place to avoid similar outcomes.


“Ultimately, this outage demonstrates how dependent we are on our IT systems. An effective system can streamline processes, make significant cost savings and dramatically improve productiveness across a business, but this dependency is a double-edged sword. In the case of any downtime across our IT systems, the costs to the business is much greater,” Groucutt continued.


“Last week we saw British Airways (BA) hit by an IT outage across its check-in systems, and staff were forced to resort to manual processes for checking in passengers, such as hand writing boarding passes. Arguably BA were lucky they were able to do this, as our reliance on IT now means that in many cases during an outage there are far fewer manual jobs that employees can do to remain productive.


“Realistic Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) should be written into your DR [disaster recovery] plan and, if disaster does strike, these should be strictly adhered to in order to avoid costs spiraling further out of control,” Groucutt concluded.