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Interesting Definitions of Criticality

by Administrator on August 14, 2008

At the DR Seminar I just conducted in Chicago this week, Mark Tallman at the Chicago Tribune IT department told me about some definitions that he helped cook up over at Sun when he worked there.  I share them with you here, in case you are building a continuity plan.

You asked me to send the levels of criticality I created at Sun. As we discussed it morphed from a number of 9’s (i.e., Six Sigma) of availability to actual impact to an organization’s ability to function in a manner that drives it toward it’s goals and objectives at the most strategic, rather than tactical, level.

  • Life Critical – Reserved for production environments that can afford absolutely zero unplanned downtime. This includes critical care facilities, 911 call centers, nuclear power plants, systems used with men in space, etc. If a life-critical production environment goes down unexpectedly, people can or will die.
  • Mission Critical – Reserved for those production environments that instantaneously cause an organization to cease its primary function(s) that allow it to build its products or sell its service. This includes newspaper printing presses, on-line stock brokerage services without call centers, etc.
  • Business Critical – Reserved for those production environments that are strategically important to an organization’s ability to build its products or sell its service, but do not instantaneously cause the organization to cease the aforementioned functions due to a window of opportunity to recover the production environment before a cessation of functions. If recovery is not complete before expiration of this window, the impact escalates to a mission-critical level.
  • Business Operational – Reserved for those production environments that impact the organization at a more tactical level, such as HR systems, accounting systems, etc. A much more lengthy window of opportunity exists within which the production environment can be recovered and unplanned outages may never actually impact strategic, primary business functions.
  • Administrative – Reserved for minimal production environments such as e-mail, MS Office products, instant messaging, etc.. Unplanned outages are of no strategic importance and lengthy outages are nothing more than an inconvenience.

Please do not hesitate to call if you have any questions, concerns or ideas about my levels of criticality.

Thanks for sharing, Mark.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

RC August 26, 2008 at 5:10 pm

Vendor Operational – Reserved for those production environments that are not buying the vendor foo. It also applies when the customer finds problems that aren’t even addressed in the next version of the product, which isn’t available yet.

Vendor Critical – A vendor operational situation that occurs at the end of the vendor’s fiscal year.

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