Everyday Computing, Features, Technology

Single Points Of Failure

By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant
By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

REDUNDANCY refers to the ability to continue despite sufferings some degree of failure or loss. If you only have one computer and that computer fails, then you are suddenly left without the means to conduct your work. Redundancy is such a good idea, that it should feature in your business processes too. Without redundancy, a simple mishap may cause the total failure of your operations.

Have you ever called a business place, and were told that a specific person was not in office? Furthermore, without that person, your query could not be answered and you should just call back again sometime later? Such occurrences are not a good sign for the health of your business.

In some industries, machines are designed to cope with failure, and still work safely. Last December, an airplane leaving California bound for London lost one of its engines during take-off. The plane was otherwise unaffected, and the pilot continued the flight with the remaining engines. The only noticeable impact was the increase in fuel consumption that led to the flight landing in Manchester Airport, instead of in London. Not bad, considering that over five thousand miles were travelled during that flight.

The proper design of the aircraft takes into account the redundancy required to allow such failures to happen without significant mishap.

We too can learn lessons from such an event, when planning and designing our business and computing systems. If the failure of one of your computing devices causes the entire operation to stop, then you need to introduce some resilience, redundancy, or just have a spare computer available.

Your business processes should also be designed to adapt to some “damage” or failure.

Here are some warning signs to be aware of:
(1) No decision can be taken unless and until a specific individual is in office;
(2) Your customers must wait, or leave and return when someone is available;
(3) No business occurs, because everyone is out to lunch at the same time.

The principle is the same, which is to avoid a single point of failure. Your use of a computer system to support a business process will not necessarily save you from the impacts of poor design. Keep an eye open for the warning signs that suggest the need to redesign your business processes and improve your redundancy. Otherwise, you might needlessly suffer the effects of a single point of failure.

Safe Computing!

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