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 Single Point of Failure – What is it? Why it Matters…

What is a single point of failure?

The classic definition of single point of failure or SPOF is of a potential risk posed by a flaw in the design, implementation or configuration of a circuit or system in which one fault or malfunction causes an entire system to stop operating. In the modern business environment, the definition of SPOF includes a critical system component with the ability to cease system operations during failover. To put this in perspective for small to medium-sized businesses, if you are running your company’s website from a single server and that server goes down, you are looking at a single point of failure.  If such a risk exists for your company, you will want to take steps immediately to reduce that risk.

Could your cloud vendor be a single point of failure?

SPOFs are undesirable to systems requiring reliability and availability, such as software applications, networks or supply chains.  In cloud computing, the single point of failure happens in both hardware and software layouts.  Redundancy and high-availability clusters are key factors to avoid SPOFs. Both logical redundancy and physical redundancy is needed to achieve this goal.  When a system component fails, then another component should immediately take the role of the failed component. A multi-location database setup is one such example.

Software flaws can cause outages so a multiple application server based in the cloud should be implemented to avoid software flaws and eliminate SPOFs in the cloud architecture. Your cloud service provider should have the scale and resources to identify, address, isolate, and prevent problems with software functionality.

Don’t leave all of your eggs in one basket.

Many services, software, or application providers offer their own version of cloud backups- Quickbooks, is a good example.  However, it would not be advised to rely solely on that one backup to protect your company’s financial data. It is important for business owners to consider all probable scenarios when building redundancy and not assume anyone can provide 100.0% uptime.  Taking the time now to improve the business continuity plan for your company can save you a great many problems in the future.


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