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Single Points of Failure

Single Points of Failure. We all know and fear them. It’s the one thing that can bring our infrastructure to its knees, and it’s what we as engineers, architects, and consultants strive to avoid in our environment. Any seasoned technical professional can quickly identify and remediate a single point of failure in the infrastructure, but I’ve noticed a lot of people overlook one huge single point of failure in their environment.

Recently, it was announced that the company I work for was being bought out and that we would enter a merger. Obviously, some people felt the risk was too great and have decided to move on to new opportunities. During this exodus, I’ve noticed a lot of people spending their last two weeks documenting and offloading their knowledge of some aspect of the environment because they were the only ones up to that point who knew it. Being the sole holder of a piece of knowledge about your environment creates the biggest single point of failure of all, yourself.

The purpose of this post is to try to motivate people to share their knowledge with a coworker, or to sit down and let someone shadow you for a day. Propose some sort of collaboration site like a Wiki or Sharepoint for your IT department and document common problems and information about the things you do. I know being in IT can be hectic and fast paced, creating little time to share or document, but if you do not, you are creating a very large single point of failure in yourself. You may not always be around to fix a problem, and without your knowledge, someone will be left out to dry trying to fix the issue in a timely manner. So again, share your knowledge. Sit down with a colleague and show them what you do, and ask the same from them. Propose a place to collaborate notes and document what you can. Or do like me and create a blog; for this is the reason I started this, to share my knowledge on the day-to-day things I run into in the hopes that it may someday help someone else out.

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