Giving SaaS Application Uptime Your 99.9%

27th March 2015
SaaS application uptime has become an increasingly revenue-impacting concern, both at the company level and at the market level. Several reports have been released recently highlighting the cost of downtime to SaaS companies, as well as research underscoring the growing interest from investors in SaaS companies as revenue growth engines. With so much revenue potential at risk, it’s astounding that many companies still believe it’s sufficient to equip their IT departments with an application performance monitoring tool and consider the “preserve your product’s uptime” box checked.

SaaS Application Uptime and APM

While application performance monitoring is valuable for anticipating and responding to issues that threaten SaaS application uptime, it is deficient for two audiences:

1) your IT team – application performance monitoring does not proactively address issues by managing performance, it merely monitors and alerts
2) your users and your Marketing team – application performance monitoring does not address user communication at all

The first reason represents a deficiency in application performance monitoring because it demands immediate attention from IT, even to correct minor issues. The better approach here is to utilize an application performance management (APM) solution. An APM tool will include features like automatic failover, which helps to avoid application downtime by immediately redirecting activity from components experiencing performance issues to fully functional components. This frees IT to troubleshoot the issue after the fact rather than forcing the team to drop everything immediately and put out the fire the issue caused.

APM solutions are not magic, there will still be instances of downtime that require IT to go into crisis mode. The rationale behind implementing an APM is to make those instances significantly less frequent and shorter in duration. APMs empower IT to immediately identify and handle the smaller issues while providing data about those issues, which can inform IT about how to better anticipate, avoid and rapidly address bigger threats to SaaS application uptime in the future.

The second reason represents a deficiency in application performance monitoring because it does not translate service disruptions into terms your end users can understand. This is obviously a problem for your users and as a result is a problem for your Marketing team. The better approach here is to supplement your APM with a hosted status page that can provide intelligible, timely downtime communication to your users. This ensures that your users feel well-informed about issues with application performance or even application availability (in instances of application downtime). This is equally true for anticipated downtime (e.g. maintenance) as it is for unexpected issues. There are many other reasons to utilize a hosted status page, not the least of which is to take the burden of communication off of IT. You can read more about hosted status pages here.

SaaS Application Uptime and Revenue Growth

I’ve not yet come across a study that directly connects SaaS application uptime statistics with revenue growth, though there are certainly examples of repeated instances of downtime hitting a company’s revenue hard. Much like everything else in IT, when it goes well, there’s no real conversation, but when it goes poorly, everyone has a stake in IT resolving it as quickly as possible and avoiding it more effectively in the future.

Where Marketing is concerned, however, revenue growth is dependent upon customer satisfaction – happy, referenceable customers (or customers who are actively brand advocates) are the key to explosive growth. Rather than waiting for there to be a problem, make sure every interaction your users have with your company is a positive one. Engage your Marketing team about how you might implement more user-friendly downtime communication.

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