If you’ve set up a business and spent years growing it, you probably want to make sure it will be around for a while. You will want to protect it, and make sure that nothing could bring it down – especially from the inside. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses will go under due to poor IT planning, usually because they have not noticed the vulnerabilities within their systems. A single point of failure could be enough to take down a business you have spent years building and nurturing, which is why it’s so important to identify and fix them – or avoid them altogether.
What is a Single Point of Failure?
In business, a single point of failure is defined as a solitary problem within a system that stops the system from working, leading to the failure of the entire business, usually by completely shutting down its source of revenue. For example, if the owner of a small tree care company only owns one wood chipper and that wood chipper breaks, he would be unable to complete his current job and cancel future jobs until he can buy a replacement. But being unable to earn money to buy that replacement could cause a lot of problems in itself, and it could eventually put him out of business.
In more complex businesses, these failures are more complex as well. But no matter what size the business, a single point of failure can bring it down quickly, which is why it is best avoided. Most often they are caused by one person carrying out fraudulent activities, or simply having no knowledge or experience and making a fatal mistake. On other occasions it can be equipment failure or natural disaster. But in many cases, it’s caused by IT issues, which thankfully can be avoided if you plan properly.
Redundancy, Redundancy, Redundancy
If you talk to any IT professional about what it takes to build a robust system, they will start talking about redundancy – and you might not be able to get them to stop. Redundancy (also known as fail-over) is the duplication of critical components, functions or areas of your system designed to increase reliability and reduce the risk of downtime and catastrophic failures. This is easiest to think about if we look at a datacentre.
A datacentre holds a huge amount of data and sensitive equipment, essential to the running of thousands of businesses. If the building lost power, internet connectivity or access, it would be the end of the business, and possibly some of their customers businesses too. To avoid this, datacentres have hundreds of fail-safes in place. From spare parts for heating and cooling mechanisms to dozens of back up internet connections and power generators, they have everything they would need to get the datacentre going again in seconds if something went wrong, several times over. While this is an extreme example, the basic principle applies to other businesses as well.
Redundancy in Business IT
So how do you build redundancy into your business IT systems, and avoid that single point of failure?
The first step in protecting against a single point of failure is to identify where the problems are. This means looking at three main areas of your business IT:
For each of these categories, you should look for any data that isn’t backed up, any hardware or software systems that have no redundancy or backup, and any unmonitored devices on the network. For every part of your network, identify what you would stand to lose if that particular ‘link’ were to go down, and what the impact would be on your business. This exercise means you will soon have a list of areas you need to address, which means you can bring in help to fix them.
This is where outsourcing your IT services can help. An external party can identify gaps in your business IT systems you may not even be aware of, and help you understand how they could impact your business. From there they can also help repair them, installing a full back up and redundancy system to keep your business safe, secure and running even if the worst should happen. At ACT Systems we provide full managed services, backup and disaster recovery planning for businesses of all shapes and sizes. If you would like to know more, or to book an audit of your business IT, just get in touch with the team today.
You may also be interested in one of our previous blog posts about outsourcing – click here to read.