What Makes a System Mission-Critical?

The worst time to discover an application is critical to your mission is when it stops working and disrupts  your business operations, especially operations that contribute most directly to revenue generation and/or cost control.

One very clear definition of “mission-critical” system comes to us from Investopedia:

What Is Mission Critical?

A mission critical task, service, or system is one whose failure or disruption would cause an entire operation or business to grind to a halt. It is a type of task, service, or system that is indispensable to continuing operations.

What is mission-critical to your specific operations depends upon the nature of your business.

Retail – If yours is a retail business, or financial services, or any other operation that constantly generates a high-volume of transactions, the inability to enter and process those transactions could cost you not only immediate income, but future business as well as customers go elsewhere rather than wait for you. This means that not only are the backoffice ERP systems mission-critical, but so are the cash registers or other point-of-data-entry systems.

Call-Center – In any call-center, be it emergency services for a hospital, police, or fire, the call processing systems are clearly mission-critical. Even commercial call centers which don’t share the life-at-stake dimension of emergency operations consider call processing systems to be mission-critical. Their mission is to provide the vital link between the business and its customers. Those customers lose confidence in the company when they cannot reach anyone to help them.

FinServ – Many systems are mission-critical to financial services companies. Those that process transactions are obviously critical, but so are the systems that analyze and compare various investment vehicles, as well as those that track the various markets.

HealthCare – There are few systems in a healthcare operation that are not mission-critical. Obviously the financial operation of the business of healthcare is critical, but so are the digital diagnostic equipment that enables doctors to provide quality care. Also, many hospitals now use asset-tracking systems to locate every piece of equipment in the facility so they can be quickly found and obtained when needed. Given that the equipment is critical to delivering care, the systems to track them become critical.

All of these systems, and many others, depend upon back-end data management and storage systems. If only one mission-critical application is using that data, the systems that support the data become mission-critical.

Systems are Becoming More Mission-Critical

As we transition more and more of our operations to automation as part of digital transformation we also increase that automation’s criticality. Say your workflow involves a dozen employees collaborating on a given extended process like assembly. You decide that one of the simpler steps can be accomplished far more economically by automation, liberating the person who was doing it to do more. Despite the simplicity of that step, the automation is mission-critical because 11 other employees will go idle should it fail. Mission-criticality can be relative.

There are considerations we must pay attention to as we adopt artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) into our workflows. Like the automation just described, AI integration into a workflow can cause untenable disruption should the systems supporting the AI fail. Given that AI depends significantly upon the ability to obtain data, communications systems used by the AI can also be considered mission-critical. Then there’s the potential that the skills people used to execute the tasks now handled by AI may fade over time, which makes the AI far more indispensable to the operation.

Who Do You Trust?

The question raised by the broadening community of applications and systems that are becoming mission-critical is who do you trust to manage and maintain them? It is likely that many companies will immediately answer that they’ll want to do that themselves.

But for small-to-midsized businesses (SMB) that may not be practical. They may not have budget to staff the personnel required to deliver that support. Even larger organizations may not currently employ experts in systems management and protection.

Many managers may feel far more comfortable putting the responsibility in the hands of an expert service, so they know they have one resource to turn to. Long ago, the idea of engaging an outside service was referred to as having “one-throat-to-choke.”

Now, as more and more systems and workloads have become critical to the ongoing mission, the attitude toward this kind of engagement has evolved to be “one-hand-to-shake.”

The Idenxt Approach to Mission-Critical Systems Management and Protection

The home page of the Idenxt website says it all. Under the headline banner “Mission-Critical System Protection” is the Idenxt commitment to “Uptime Assurance & Optimum Security for your truly mission-critical applications 24x7x365

Unpacking this important statement, we can begin with the simplest solution it provides. Many businesses are “five-shift” operations, with people working five days a week. But systems operate all the time, processing transactions with other systems, and also processing internal workloads. The cost of providing around-the-clock support at all times is simply not feasible to budget for many companies.

By combining many advanced automation and AI tools with long-term human experience and expertise, Idenxt delivers on its promise of uptime and security.

Uptime assurance is that holy grail everyone is seeking. Computer experts speak of “five nines,” systems that are available to users 99.999% of the time.

Optimum security is an absolute necessity in an era when nation-states join cybercriminals and cybercrime enterprises in threatening literally every business with data loss and business operational interruption.

To learn more about how Idenxt serves your most mission-critical systems, visit Idenxt.com or contact us here.

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