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Learning "Single Point of Failure" from "One Piece"


6 months ago4 min read

I am an avid reader of the "One Piece" manga. After so many years, I still find the story developments interesting. Certain parts are funny, some are touching and some gets you really fired up, which are the characteristics of shonen manga. In one of the recent chapters, 946 to be specific, there is even a lesson on why we need to avoid single-point-of-failure (SPoF) in critical infrastructures.


In the world of "One Piece", people with each other remotely through the "Den Den Mushi" or Transponder Snail. Transponder Snails are snails with some kind of telepathic powers. They are able telepathically communicate with each other through electronic signals and they can even mimic human speech. If you are interested, you can head over to this Wiki to learn more.

Single Point of Failure

In chapter 946, the crews from the Beasts Pirates were faced with an extremely dangerous enemy, the Yonko Big Mom, and wanted to make contact with their HQ (Onigashima). However, they were not able to because Transponder Snail communications network is down.


The next scene reveals what happened.



In this place, the Transponder Snails network relies on a single boss snail to relay messages from one village to another. And when this boss snail is gone, the entire network fails. So in this chapter, Caribou (the dude with a long tongue) devised a brilliant plan to disrupt the enemies' communication system by taking down the boss snail.

Relating to Real World

Part of my work involves reviewing of network architecture and one of the key things that I always look out for is the lack of redundancy on critical infrastructures. Redundancy is essentially an additional copy of the piece of critical infrastructure. If you have a web server which is the single point where all network traffic is served, there should be redundancy built for that server. Typically, there will be 2 or more of such servers behind a loadbalancer. This not only brings in redundancy, it also allows the traffic to be served by more servers, thereby improving performance.

This concept does not just relate to IT. Our current financial system is also heavily centralized. Take for the case of Singapore, we only have 3 major local banks here. The odds of all 3 collapsing concurrently is probably slim, however, there will be huge damages to our financial system even if just one of them collapses. In the context of the world, the 10 largest banks own $25.81 trillion of assets combined. There just need to be one to collapse to trigger a domino effect which potentially will wipe out huge amount of wealth.

That is why I am so fascinated by what blockchain projects like Ethereum are able to bring to us. With decentralized smart contracts, we are able to welcome a new world of decentralized finance (DeFi in short) which is revolutionary. I will leave DeFi to be a topic in the future. For now, thanks for reading!

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