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Downtime


Downtime

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Jay Bowers
Jay Bowers
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Blade enclosure caught fire. A few power supplies melted at the ends. The fire alarms went off in the data center and the whole building was evacuated. That type of failure was unheardof by both us and the manufacturer.

Luckily for VMWare and our second blade enclosure in a nearby rack, most systems failedover properly and immediately. The rest were back up and we were fully functional in under 90 minutes. We had to 'migrate' a few of the least singed blades from the smoking enclosure to the working one.

Finding a replacement blade enclosure (still under warranty from manufacturer) took about a week. Apparently they don't keep any extras lying around and had to divert someone else's shipment.
Annette Ehrlich
Annette Ehrlich
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I had downtime just this week due to a hardware issue. The issue was something I had never encountered before, and I have been in IT since 1993! Unlike many of you, I am not only the DBA, but I am also everything else-we run very lean (me and a part-time assistant for our entire office).

One of my main SQL servers was blue screened when I came in Tuesday and had an NMI parity error. Dell solved the problem before my restore to my backup SQL server finished. Turns out the processor came loose, and reseating it simply fixed the problem. This is the bottom server on a Dell rack and it has been in place for 5 years. The very helpful Dell tech told me that occassionally the vibrations in the room can cause this. That was a new one for me, but I guess he was right because the server is still up & running. The total amount of downtime was approximately 45 minutes. In my office, a few hours of downtime per year is not earth-shattering, though certainly not desirable.
afowler
afowler
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We've had a few hours of downtime over the past year due to power failure. Our battery backups only last a few hours. Also, one of our databases became corrupt, but we backup the data faithfully so that only cost another hour or two.

Also, though I'd hesitate to call it downtime since the servers were up and running, but our T1 provider (Tier 1) has had their cable cut two different times. Meaning that even through everything was functioning as far as the databases were concerned, our clients were not able to access them. Furthermore, we were not able to send or receive many of the files necessary for DB updates. This cost us about 20 hours!
DPhillips-731960
DPhillips-731960
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Some bad memory issues and MOBO updates took us down a couple times this year on one server, for as long as a reboot took, and some scheduled down time to replace/upgrade the memory.

Most of the downtimes I have seen in the last 3 places of work have been MySQL related... or rather the administration of such... but I won't bother explaining those here, other than to say, a *nix admin does not automatically equate to DBA skills... much against common practice.

Some third-party vendor outages delayed some sync updates from time to time - nothing serious though.
Dustin Tabor-299352
Dustin Tabor-299352
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Just got done messing with an older server. Fan on the Northbridge stopped running and caused it to over heat. Put on a new fan, but it was to late. Chip was cooked. Luckily we had a second motherboard handy, so I was able to swap it and get it back up.

Most of the downtime I see is similar, older hardware that should never have been turned into a server in the first place. A previous vendor was hot on the idea that there was no sense in paying for full blown servers.
Michael Valentine Jones
Michael Valentine Jones
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Is depends on the meaning of downtime. If you look at if from the user point of view of not people not being able to do their jobs and make money for the company, then I would say that most of our downtime is caused by application issues:
Stored proc updating a table and blocking 300 users for a couple of hours at the peak busy time.
Overnight DTS package job failing to complete and leaving the database not ready for business users at start of day.
Production application with a connection string pointing at a database on a development server, so all users could not log in after we shutdown an old development server.
Purge stored procedure had logic in the where clause wrong so it deleted only the data that was needed and left only the unneeded data.
Application running queries in a loop that was supposed to refresh every 5 minutes, but was running 1000 times per second and making SQL Server unresponsive
etc.

Of course we have hardware and network related problems, but developers are the ones we depend on to create the really big screw-ups.
DPhillips-731960
DPhillips-731960
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Michael Valentine Jones (3/13/2009)
Is depends on the meaning of downtime.


I take "downtime" to mean anything which prevents normal operation in any link of the chain supporting that operation, be it software, data, process, hardware, network, internet, 3rd party, power, etc.

It also has lesser severity levels in partial, decreased, delayed, etc.

An operational specification or expectation should specify the limitations, usually governed somewhere close to the level of patience and stress the end users and or business will accomodate, which varies between markets and types of business.

For example, MyFamily.com could probably go down for a couple of days and not lose many customers. But a trading company would probably not out-live the same... the latter threshold is measured in milliseconds and seconds, not hours or days.
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