Beneficial Intelligence

Monoculture

October 15, 2021 Sten Vesterli Season 2 Episode 27
Beneficial Intelligence
Monoculture
Show Notes

In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss monoculture. Just like in farming, monoculture is efficient and dangerous.

Modern farmers will plan hundreds or thousands of acres with the same crop. That gives efficiency because the entire crop will respond identically to fertilizer and pesticides. It also means that the entire harvest will be lost if some new pest or disease suddenly appears. Monoculture cost more than a million lives in Ireland in the Great Famine of the 1850s. 

There is also monoculture in your IT landscape. If all your systems have the same hardware and run the same software, they will all be vulnerable to the same bugs and malware. 

Your servers are probably many different types because they have been added over the years. But if you run the same virtualization software on most of them, your entire infrastructure is vulnerable to a bug in your virtualization.

Your workstations are monoculture, and if something takes out Microsoft Windows, you are dead in the water.

But the really dangerous monoculture is found in your network equipment. You probably buy all your gear from one vendor so your network people only need one skill stack. But that means that a vulnerability will expose your entire network. 

You don't want to put all your eggs in one basket. If you are concerned with robustness and business continuity, beware of monoculture. 

 

Beneficial Intelligence is a bi-weekly podcast with stories and pragmatic advice for CIOs, CTOs, and other IT leaders. To get in touch, please contact me at [email protected]