When systems really matter

We all rely on computers at some level or another, but some systems are more important than others. What the industry calls mission-critical systems are essential to the operation of the business and need to have their reliability verified by software testing services before they’re rolled out.

Why critical?

A system is a mission-critical if its failure would cause significant damage either financially or to the reputation of the company. These might be things like banking applications, travel booking or even major eCommerce services.

But as IT systems have spread into more and more areas of business operation the scope of what is critical has expanded. It may now take in manufacturing systems or customer service applications. We’re increasingly reliant on the internet for many of our day-to-day tasks so access portals and their links to back-office systems can become critical too.

As we become more reliant on mobile services and the cloud these too can be added to the list of critical systems.

Dealing with threats

There are a number of threats that need to be countered to keep systems online. Errors in code can be found by the likes of Bugfinders specialist software testers, hardware can be made resilient with the use of backup power and redundant disk arrays.

As systems are more reliant on the web for access telecoms too need to have added resilience to ensure that they remain online. The nature of the internet actually lends itself to this as it’s able to re-route traffic but if there are only a limited number of ways into your company or your country then there’s a problem. Large eCommerce businesses will, therefore, have shadow sites in other locations so that they can stay online.

Increasingly security is a major concern too. Businesses need to protect against denial of service attacks that seek to swamp their servers with traffic. They also need to guard against attempts to steal data or intercept traffic. Many hackers now use social engineering techniques to trick staff into revealing information, so education is just as important as technology in ensuring safety.

As the internet of things takes hold we’re likely to see more things being classed as mission critical. The systems that control your lights or heating for example. The industry needs to ensure it’s on top of the risks.