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Published December 12, 2022

mission-critical application

mission critical

A mission-critical application is a software program or suite of related programs that must function continuously in order for a business or segment of a business to be successful. If a mission-critical application experiences even brief downtime, the negative consequences are likely to be financial. In addition to lost productivity, a mission-critical app’s failure to function may also damage the business’ reputation. Examples of mission-critical applications vary from industry to industry. For example, an automatic vehicle locator (AVL) app might be mission-critical for an ambulance company but if a plumbing business uses the same software, it may be characterized as being important, but not essential.

When deploying mission-critical software, information technology (IT) administrators must determine exactly what support is necessary to ensure an application’s ability to function under sub-optimal circumstances. For example, if a server handles transactional data, it should have multiple, redundant power supplies to keep the server running in the event of a power outage. Depending on the company’s budget and data center physical infrastructure, mission-critical applications require N+1 redundancy at a minimum. Making sure that help desk support is available 24/7 can also help administrators make sure mission-critical applications are always available, as can frequent and automated backups to protect applications from corruption or deletion.

IT administrators often tier their disaster recovery plans to prioritize the restoration of mission-critical applications and sometimes choose not to update mission-critical applications as frequently as lower priority applications in order to reduce the risk of introducing changes that might cause problems. Although many companies today use cloud storage to provide redundancy for their mission-critical apps, the question of whether or not to actually host mission-critical applications in the cloud is still quite controversial and the choice depends on many variables, including regulatory compliance requirements and trust in the cloud provider’s ability to provide security and meet service level agreements (SLAs).

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