Mission critical

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For the computer adventure/strategy game, see Mission Critical (video game).

Mission critical refers to any factor of a system (equipment, process, procedure, software, etc.) that is essential to the business operation or the organization. Failure or disruption of mission critical will result in the serious impact on business operations or organization, and even can cause social turmoil and catastrophes. Therefore, it is extremely critical to the organization's "mission."[1]

Mission critical systems[edit]

Mission critical system — a system whose failure may result in the failure of some goal-directed activity. Mission critical system is just a longer term of a mission critical. Mission essential equipment and mission critical application are also known as mission critical system. Mission critical system is usually the online banking system, railway and aircraft operating and control system, electric power systems, and many other computer systems that will affect the business and society seriously if downed.

A good example of a mission critical system is a navigational system for a spacecraft. The difference between mission critical and business critical is in the global activity and possibility of whole personal life black out.[2][3] A business-critical system fault can influence only to a single company or bunch of them and can partly stop lifetime activity (hours or days).

There are three different types of critical systems: mission critical system, business critical system, and safety critical system. All three terms are very similar.[4] The difference between the safety critical system and mission critical system is that safety critical system is more of a system that, if failed, may result in serious environmental damage, injury, or loss of life, while mission critical system may result in failure in goal-directed activity.[5] The example of safety critical system is a chemical manufacturing plant control system. The mission critical system and business critical system are similar terms, but a business critical system fault can influence only to a single company or an organization and can partly stop lifetime activity (hours or days). So it also can be used as a mission critical system in the business. Failure of it will cause very high cost loss for the business. All these three systems usually are generalized as mission critical.[6][7]

As a rule in crisis management, if a triage-type decision is made in which certain components must be eliminated or delayed, e.g. because of resource or personnel constraints, the mission critical ones must not be among them.


Every business companies and organizations will have mission critical if they are functioning.[8] Downed filtration system will cause the water filtration company to malfunction. In this case, the water filtration system is a mission critical system. If gas system is downed, many restaurants and bakeries will have to shut down until the system function well again. In this case, the gas system is a mission critical system. Other than those, there are various mission critical that if malfunctions, will cause serious impact on the industries or organizations.

Navigating system of an aircraft[edit]

The aircraft is highly dependent on the navigating system, so the navigating system is really important. Air navigation is accomplished with many methods. Dead reckoning utilizes visual checkpoints along with distant and time calculation.The flight computer system aids the pilots to calculate the time and distance of the checkpoint that they set. The radio navigation aid (NAVAIDS) makes the pilots to navigate more accurately than dead reckoning alone, and at the condition of low visibility, radio navigation is handy. GPS is also used by pilots and uses 24 U.S. Department of Defence satellites to provide precise locational data, which includes speed, position, and track.[9]

If two-way radio communication malfunctions, the pilots have to follow the steps in the Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91. Pneumatic system failure, associated loss of altitude, and various unfamiliar situations may cause loss of situational awareness. In this case, pilot should use instruments such as navigators to seek for more information about the situational data. In this case, the malfunction of navigation system would be mission critical and will cause serious consequences.[10][11]

Nuclear reactor safety system[edit]

Nuclear reactor is a system that controls and contains the sustained nuclear chain reaction. It is usually used for generating electricity, but can also be used for conducting research and producing medical isotopes.[12] Nuclear reactors have been one of the most concerned system for the safety worldwide because malfunction of nuclear reactor can cause serious disaster to the society.[13] Controlling the nuclear system is stopping, decreasing, or increasing the chain reaction inside the nuclear reactor. Varying the water level in the vertical cylinder and moving adjuster rods are the methods of controlling the chain reaction when the reactor is operating. Temperatures, reactor power levels, and pressure are constantly monitored by the sensitive detectors.[14] If nuclear power plant system malfunctions, it can cause in various accidents such as radioactive leakage due to continued chain reaction. This can cause acute radiation syndrome to the people around the area.


The mission critical is a business's quintessence and if failed, will cause serious financial and reputational damages. Today, as the companies develop and world becomes more web-based community, the range of mission critical has extended. But the mission critical computing has been evolving since the pre-Web era (before 1995). In the entirely text-based pre-web internet, gopher was one of the ASCII-based end-user programs. The mission critical system was basically used in transactional applications during this era. A business process management software, ERP, and airline reservation systems were usually mission critical. These applications were ran on dedicated system in the data center. There were limited number of end users and usually accessed via terminals and personal computers.[15]

After the pre-Web era, the Web era (1995 - 2010) rose. The range of mission critical increased to include electronic devices and web applications. More users were able to use to the internet and electronic devices, so larger number of end users were able to access increased mission critical applications. Therefore, the customers are expecting limitless availability and stronger security in the devices they are using. The businesses also start to become more web-based and this correspondingly increases the criminal associated with the money and freud. This increase in range of mission critical made the security to become stronger and increased the security industries. Between 1995 and 2010, number of web users globally increased from 16million to 1.7billion. This shows increase in global reliance on web system.[16]

After the Web era, consumerization era (2010 and beyond) has risen. The range of mission critical is even more increased due to increase in social, mobile, and customer-facing applications. The consumerization of IT became greater, organizations increased and web and IT availabilities to the people increased. Social business, customer service, and customer support applications have increased greatly, so mission critical was expanded further. According to Gartner, native PC projects will be outnumbered by mobile development projects by the ratio of 4:1. Therefore, today's mission critical now encloses all subjects crucial for customer based service, business operation, employee productivity, and finance. The customers' expectations rose and small disruption can cause tremendous loss in the business. It was estimated that Amazon could have lost as much as $1,100 per second in net sales when it was suffering from the outrage and five minute outrage of Google lost Google more than $545,000. Failure in mission critical and even short time of outrage due to reputational damages can cause high price of downtime and longer period of downtime of mission critical system can result even more serious problems to the industries or organizations.[17]


Mission critical should be remain very secured in all industries or organization using it. Therefore, the industries are using various security systems to avoid mission critical failure. Mainframes or workstations based companies are all dependent on database and process control, so database and process control would be mission critical for them. Hospital patient recording, call centers, stock exchanges, data storage centers, flight control tower, and many other industries that are dependent on communication system and computer, should be protected from the shutdown or the system and they are considered mission critical. All the companies and industries are unavoidable to the unexpected or extraordinary problems that can cause shutdown to the mission critical. To avoid this, using the safety systems is considered very important part in the business.[18]

Secure Socket Layers (SSL)[edit]

The Secure Socket Layers (SSL) refers to the standard security technology of networking protocol that controls and manages client and server authentication, and encrypt communication. This is usually used in the online transection websites such as PayPal[19] and Bank of America,[20] which if systems are downed or hacked, will cause serious problems to the society and the companies themselves. In SSL, public-key and symmetric-key (encryption) are used together to secure the connection between two machines. Usually it is utilized in mail services or client machines that communicates via internet. To use this technology, the web server requires SSL Certificate and this can be obtained through completing several questions about the identity of the website and get public keys and private keys (cryptographic keys). The industries using this technology are also required to pay certain amount of money annually.[21]

Shutdown systems[edit]

Not only the websites that does the money transection need the security system to avoid the mission critical failure, but also nuclear power plant need the system to avoid the failure in mission critical. For nuclear power plant, the worst possible consequence that can result is leakage of radioactive materials (U-235 or Pu-239) so avoiding mission critical failure would be not leaking radioactive materials and keep the surrounding safe. One of the systems to avoid the failure in mission critical failure for nuclear power plant is shutdown system. It has two different forms: rod controls, and safety injection control. When problem occurs in the nuclear power plant, the rod control shutdown system drops the rods automatically and stops the chain reaction. The safety injection control injects liquid immediately when the system faces the problem in nuclear reactor and stops the chain reaction. Both systems are usually automatically operated, but also can be manually activated.[22][23]

Real Time and Mission Critical[edit]

Real time and Mission critical are often confused by many people but they are not the same concept.

Real time[edit]

Real time is responsiveness of a computer that makes the computer to continually update on external processes, and should process the procedure or information in a specified time, or could result in serious consequences.[24] The 3D computer games or movies are examples of real time since they are rendered by computer so rapidly, it is hard to notice the delay by the user.[citation needed] The speed of rendering graphics may vary according to the computer systems.[25]

Types of real time systems[edit]

  • Hard real-time system shouldn't miss the specified time or can result in serious consequences. It is non-negotiable in timing and it is "wrong answer" if the deadline is missed. The example of hard real time system is airbags for cars.[26]
  • Soft real-time system has more loose deadline. The system can handle the problems and functions normally even though the deadline is missed, but their functionality depends on fast paced processes. An example for soft-real time can be typing, which, if delayed, people will get annoyed, but answer still is correct.[27]
  • Non real-time system doesn't have certain or absolute deadlines. However, the throughput of the activity of performance can still be very essential.[28]


Real time is a software that if specific time is not met,it fails, but mission critical is a system if failed, will result in catastrophic consequences. Although they go hand-in-hand, since real time can be mission critical, they are not the same concepts. These two are often confused by many people, but they are different concepts, but associated with each other.[29][30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mission Critical". 
  2. ^ "Mission Critical vs. Business Critical: HUH?". Activestate ActiveBlog. 
  3. ^ "Business-critical systems". 
  4. ^ "Critical System". 
  5. ^ "Critical System". 
  6. ^ "Critical System". 
  7. ^ "Software Engineering Critical Systems" (PDF). 
  8. ^ "What is mission critical operations?". 
  9. ^ "How do pilots navigate". 
  10. ^ "Emergency Operation (Instrument Flying Handbook". 
  11. ^ "Code of Federal Regulation Section 91". 
  12. ^ "What is nuclear reactor?". 
  13. ^ "Mission Critical". 
  14. ^ "Nuclear Power Plant Safety System". 
  15. ^ "The new scope of mission-critical computing". Computerworld. 17 September 2013. 
  16. ^ "Before the Web: the Internet in 1991". Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols for Networking. 17 April 2011. 
  17. ^ "The new scope of mission-critical computing". Computerworld. 17 September 2013. 
  18. ^ "Mission Critical". 
  19. ^ "How secure is the PayPal site?". 
  20. ^ "Privacy & Security Glossary". 
  21. ^ "What is SSL". Administrator. 6 July 2005. 
  22. ^ "Nuclear Power Plant Safety System". 
  23. ^ "Secure Socket Layers (SSL) Definition". Margaret Rouse. November 2014. 
  24. ^ "Real time". http://whatis.techtarget.com/. John Huntington, Margaret Rouse. April 2006.  External link in |website= (help)
  25. ^ "Real-time". http://techterms.com. 8 January 2007.  External link in |website= (help)
  26. ^ "EG717—Real time DSP". Fernando S. Schlindwein. March 2004. 
  27. ^ "Real Time vs Mission Critical". 27 April 2010. 
  28. ^ "Real Time vs Mission Critical". 27 April 2010. 
  29. ^ "EG717—Real time DSP". Fernando S. Schlindwein. March 2004. 
  30. ^ "Real Time vs Mission Critical". 27 April 2010.