Beware of SPOF – Single Point of Failure

While most IT Pro’s think about ‘Data Protection’ as the proactive activities, technologies and policies for assuring recovery and resiliency, a lot of folks forget to look for the architectural and cultural SPOF’s that can hinder production and recovery.

Here is a non-DP SPOF example that I am currently struggling with – my home-office’s Internet connection, which has been intermittently failing this week. It used to be that when one technology failed, you could use something different and stay productive, but when my home’s Internet (Verizon FIOS) is down:

— My home phone, obviously also Verizon, uses the same connection – so no home phone

— My office phone is an IP phone – so no office phone

— My mobile phone depends on my AT&T Microcell, which otherwise has one-bar – so no mobile phone

Three different telecommunications devices that presumably operate as very different mechanisms but are all completely disabled by a Single Point of Failure. And of course, all of my file-sharing/collaboration and email tools are equally debilitated by this SPOF.

Think about your data paths – will you be able to move the data back where it needs to go? Will your data restores actually congest the network such that you are your own problem?  Is your network an SPOF for your recoverability?

Think about your highly consolidated storage pool – will you be able to restore all of the bulk data back to its intended diverse locations during a large recovery exercise?  Is your storage an SPOF for your recoverability?

Think about your DP team – do they all know who is to recover what, and in which order, so as to maximize the agility of the organization? What if some of them are unavailable to work?  Are your people an SPOF for your recoverability?

Data Protection is not just about the software, hardware and services of making copies – but the strategic awareness of what, when and how your IT organization needs to be able to recover (including the assurance that there are not obstacles to those recoveries).

Thanks for reading.


Post-Mortem:  As for Verizon FIOS, they sent a technician (same day) and figured out that a neighbor down the street broke the line while working on their sprinklers. So now, there is a 275’ fiber line, running down the street from my outside box to the distribution panel.  ETA to dig a new trench = 10 business days.  But hats off to Verizon for the expedited dispatch and the friendly/knowledgeable technician.  And tomorrow, I will start thinking about mitigating this SPOF.  There is always ‘tomorrow’.

Leave a Reply