These factors can help categorize apps:
Availability: The availability and stability of the application is always top-of-the-mind for architects, developers, admins, testers and support teams associated with the application. When a business-critical app is sourced, developed or maintained from outside the organization, service level agreements (SLAs) of 99.99% are routinely put in place. That translates to a downtime of about four and a half minutes a month or 53 minutes a year. Built-in redundancy in the infrastructure, application copies, hot backups on duplicate staging, testing and production environments, all contribute towards improving the availability of mission-critical apps.
Functionality: Customer-facing apps or apps that employees use at all operating hours to enable core business transactions are obviously critical to business continuity. These can include back-office or middle-office systems such as productivity and collaboration tools, web services, governance and compliance apps as well as financial and accounting software.
Trust: Again, customer-facing apps that are part of core business transactions or operations have the greatest impact on the reputation of the company or brand. In case of downtime – or worse, a security breach – consumer trust on the business drains out rapidly.
Common categories for business-critical include:
Data and analytics: Data and information are central to the success of any business today – not only for beating the competition but also to stay alive and operational. There is rarely an organization that doesn’t use analytics in each of its functions, be it sales, HR or production.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): ERP systems such as SAP form the core of the average enterprise. They govern finance, manufacturing, distribution, HR, supply chain and pretty much every major function of the business.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI): VDIs have become more relevant post-pandemic and are taking on the form of DaaS in the cloud. They have lent the mobility and flexibility needed for remote employees to access the organization’s apps and resources from regular devices such as laptops and smartphones. This makes VDI critical to employee productivity and operational continuity.
Backup and Disaster Recovery (DR): Ongoing backups with well-defined recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) are essential to providing redundancy and recovery for all datasets, applications and services in the environment.
High-Performance Computing (HPC): Complex business processes in sectors such as energy, finance, manufacturing and life sciences rely on HPC applications. These enable the design, development and implementation of products and solutions such as semiconductors, AV vehicles, 5G networks, and so on.
Running Business-Critical Apps on a Hybrid IT
An agile, hybrid infrastructure has some core capabilities that serve to delight users by delivering reliable application and database performance:
- Scalability: It enables predictable, speedy, non-disruptive and linear scaling of compute and storage resources. Companies can match resources and spending directly with business demands.
- Storage efficiencies: Unified and dynamically distributed storage consolidates management of data in file, object and block storage systems.
- “Single pane of glass” management: A unified and automated cloud management plane enables control and workload and data mobility across multiple hybrid cloud environments.
- Resource delivery for apps: Rapid VM and container-based server sandbox deployment enables rapid provisioning and up and down scaling of compute and storage resources.
- Faster development lifecycle: Self-service consoles serve to enhance the agility of applications and also speed up release velocity as deploying new applications from existing blueprints becomes simpler. Centrally enforced, role-based governance ensures better control over the app development lifecycle.
- Redundancy and recovery: Point-in-time VM snapshots speed up clone creation ensure faster roll backs, while efficient DR processes improve the RPO and RTO metrics.
- Integrated security: Native VM-level data encryption for apps and databases ensures better security while automated patching enables quicker response to zero-day vulnerabilities.
As organizations straddle the shaky line between a reliable, resilient application and their business goals, they are finding solutions in cloud-native technology. Cloud-native app development is the next frontier in automating the software development lifecycle while commoditizing platforms and infrastructure.
“Cloud-native is about packaging, managing and running a workload that is sensitive to its environment,” said McDowell. “It isn’t going to put your company out of business if you don't adopt it, but it's going to make you a laggard in your industry.”