SPOF best practices

4280 pts.
Tags:
Network hardware
Network management
Network Topology
Single Point of Failure
SPOF
What are the best practices for eliminating single points of failure (SPOF) in a network? What are the most common ways to eliminate them?

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The short and too-easy answer is “have more than one of everything”.

The longer answer is much more complicated, and really depends on what vendors you’re buying or looking to buy gear from, what features you’ve paid for an installed/enabled, now your network is laid out, how much you’re prepared to spend, what you’re willing to sacrifice, expected levels of service, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

Probably the best network infrastructure design I’ve seen (in a smaller shop) has two Nokia firewalls teamed in a failover configuration with VRRP, with large Cisco Catalyst switches at the core (using HSRP tying everything together, with departments connecting to smaller non-redundant switches as needed. It had the stability at the core for the infrastructure and for datacenter hosts, and the lowered cost of the departmental switches for desktop connectivity (none of which needed a high level of availability). Out in the DMZ and to the Internet, OSPF was the protocol of choice.

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  • Kevin Beaver
    This can be tricky...something that checklist auditors tend to ding people on all the time. In reality, you can't have more than one of everything. But you can have more than one of a few things (i.e. critical servers and firewalls). If that doesn't make sense then at least keep your network inventory current, keep your services contracts up to do, and keep your vendor phone #s handy for when problems do arise. You'll only know the true answer to this by doing a business impact analysis that uncovers what's most important and how long the business can survive without each "thing".
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