Unexpected network outages can wreak havoc on a business. Gartner reports the average cost of downtime is $5,600 per minute.

A new survey from Netrounds has revealed that over 60 percent of network brownouts are initially discovered by IT’s internal or external customers, not by IT itself. Persistent network brownouts are the third biggest issue faced by IT organizations, after outages and security breaches.

On average, companies surveyed reported at least $400,000 in financial damages. Larger companies reported damages of $700,000 or more.

“Even before conducting the survey, we knew that network brownouts were common, but we were rather surprised by just how damaging they are to businesses,” said Mats Nordlund, CEO and co-founder of Netrounds. “It is clear that many IT organizations rely on traditional monitoring solutions that are unable to mitigate network brownouts, as these solutions are looking at network devices and infrastructure, instead of focusing on how IT customers are able to use the network and applications.”

Netrounds believes that the top reason for these high costs is that IT teams don’t resolve problems fast enough. According to the report, top performing companies resolve over half of their problems in less than four hours. Bottom-tier companies only solve every sixth problem in four hours.

Top performing companies were 1.5 times more likely to run activation tests from the perspective of their customers before giving access to new applications or network connections. In addition, they were also 70 percent more likely to perform specific active monitoring scenarios for new applications.

According to Netrounds, the top three causes of brownouts (congestion or load issues, missing/misconfigured QoS, and problematic in-line devices) can be avoided by using active monitoring.

“Our survey concludes that network brownouts can be reduced by actively mimicking customer behavior close to their locations, across the network and application layers,” said Nordlund. “Active service assurance should be automatically deployed at the same time as applications and network services are being handed over to customers, to ensure any issues are discovered proactively by IT organizations rather than by internal and external customers.”

The company surveyed 400 companies across the US.