Uptime Institute Outage Severity Rating

The Outage Severity Rating (OSR) was developed by Uptime Institute to help the infrastructure industry better distinguish between a service outage that threatens to impact the business and an inconvenient outage that has little or no impact to the business.

For the past three years, Uptime Institute's Intelligence group has been studying publicly reported outages to understand what has been causing unplanned downtime and the effects of these outages. During the period, the number of outages has steadily climbed, with 27 outages in 2016; 57 outages in 2017, and 78 outages in 2018.

Uptime Institute’s OSR will help the digital infrastructure and data center community better understand and articulate service outages in the context of how each incident affects the business.

With the OSR, infrastructure practitioners can finally share a common lexicon when forming their own service delivery capacity strategies and can view their own outages in terms of business impacts, rather than referencing outages based upon the number of physical infrastructure components that were involved.

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A Metric to Classify the Severity and Impact of Outages

Although there are various ways to categorize the "mission criticality" of various systems as a planning tool for disaster recovery and availability/redundancy investments, there is no "Richter Scale" for measuring the severity/impact of outages.

Such a rating is clearly useful. For example, the effect of losing access to a human resources system for two weeks might be frustrating but negligible, even in large organizations, while a 5-minute loss of a currency trading system can be near catastrophic.

For classifying the impact of public outages, Uptime Institute has created a five-level Outage Severity Rating as outlined below.

Hybrid infrastructures deliver business services at a level of designed capacity based on all components being available. Historically an “outage” was considered as a binary state of service delivery, but as the IT industry continues to leverage hybrid infrastructure designs, the definition and scope of “outages” also must change. This rating method provides lexicon to quantify outages and their impact to business.
Andy Lawrence
“Public awareness of outages is becoming more pronounced as the number increases year over year. In most cases, we find it difficult to understand the true nature and magnitude of the outage since most practitioners still characterize the severity of an outage based on the amount of affected physical infrastructure equipment.”
Andy Lawrence Executive Director of Research, Uptime Institute