Most network managers accept that they will experience a certain amount of downtime on their networks, but obviously they want to find the cause of the dead air and stamp it out.

A recent survey by business service management vendor Managed Objects reveals what might be at the root of network downtime. The company surveyed some 200 US IT managers and senior leaders in June to discover what brings their networks down and the results show that homegrown applications are behind a majority of downtime in today's networks.

About 61 percent of survey respondents said applications were behind most of their network downtime, compared to just 21 percent that reported hardware as the cause. And nearly 20 percent were uncertain of the cause of downtime at their organisations, the results found.

Among those surveyed, 82 percent said the application outages and network downtime in the past year was significant enough to affect their business. Respondents reported that the average cost of downtime was more than $10,000 per hour and downtime itself could last an average of three to four hours.

But the most telling results, according to Managed Objects, were those that pointed to companies supporting more homegrown applications and citing applications as the cause of network downtime. Homegrown and custom applications can represent up to 90 percent of some organisations' application mix, the vendor says, and more than 80 percent of survey respondents relying more on homegrown applications than off-the-shelf packaged applications blamed software as the main cause of most outages.

Based on survey results, Managed Objects says frequent application configuration changes could be behind the application performance problems. For example, survey respondents reported that they experience more than 115 application configuration changes per week, or more then one every 90 minutes. With between 51 percent and 66 percent of respondents reporting the processes are more manual than automated, the potential for error increases.

"These findings confirm that the majority of today's large businesses rely heavily on custom software applications not just to accomplish their daily tasks but as a primary means by which to generate revenue," said Managed Objects CEO Siki Giunta in a company press release. "Yet these findings show that too often, because of a lack of automation and integration, these applications' configurations are being poorly managed or not managed at all."