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What Does “Mission Critical” Mean, And Why Is It Important?

If you’ve read a number of our blog posts over the years, and made your way through some of the service descriptions on our website, you’ve probably seen the phrase “mission critical” used a number of times.

When we’re talking with a new or potential client, one of the first things we always ask them is if they consider their Internet access “mission critical”. We want to know right away if they consider it that or not, because it helps give us an idea as to what services we offer might be the best fit for their needs.

Mission critical“, to put it simply, refers to whether or not a service is a cornerstone to a company’s day to day operations. For nearly everyone, having phone service is mission critical, as without it, you couldn’t speak with clients, talk with vendors, or prospect for new business. Fax machines, on the other hand, have become less mission critical over the past few years as many companies prefer to scan and email documents, and the acceptance of online signatures has become a lot more commonplace. While many companies still maintain fax numbers and machines, odds are they’re ringing less and less as time goes on.

When it comes to the Internet, some businesses use it but don’t rely on it heavily. Perhaps it’s used to surf the web, check email, and conduct research. But if the Internet were to go down for an hour or two, the business would still be able to continue normal operations for the most part. Employees would still be productive, and online tasks could wait for the Internet connection to be re-established. In those instances we wouldn’t refer to the Internet as a mission critical application for those specific businesses.

Now, on the other hand, there are a number of businesses who absolutely rely on the Internet for their employee productivity and the generation of revenue. In those cases perhaps the Internet supplies traffic to servers that their customers access to download data or software that they either purchased or pay a monthly fee for. The Internet may always be open on their employees screens as they exchange emails, track shipments, and access cloud-based services all day long. If the Internet were to go out for a number of hours, employee productivity may drop to a standstill. We’ve even heard of companies sending employees home early in those instances, directing them to work from home as they may have a working Internet connection there. Of course, if you recognize your business in any of these scenarios, then YES the Internet is absolutely a mission critical service to you!

Knowing how the Internet is used at a potential client’s business is extremely important to us, or to any other carrier for that matter. If we know right away how critical the Internet is to them, it’s easier to provide them with information on services that match their uptime and bandwidth requirements. A business that has 100+ employees that rely on the Internet all day long would make a good match for Metro Ethernet (a mission critical service), while a business of less than 10 employees that only use the Internet for an hour or so each would be better off with a DSL connection, which isn’t seen as a mission critical service offering.

It’s also helpful to know what a business is currently using, because if the problems they are experiencing can directly be tied into their specific level of Internet service, it would make no sense to offer them the same type of service – which would most likely come with the same type of problems. A client who’s bandwidth problems stem from their DSL connection may find those same problems with any other Internet provider if they opt for DSL service again, only to discover that their physical distance from the local phone switch makes offering DSL problematic, no matter who the carrier is. It may simply be that their needs have outgrown a lower level connection like DSL, and T1 or Metro Ethernet might make more sense for them now that their reliance on their Internet service has increased.

Conducting some background research can definitely go a long way into helping businesses determine the cause of any issues they may be having, and whether or not a change to a mission critical Internet service might be their best step. By taking the time to find out where problems lay, it’s much easier to determine what options would make the best fit for each individual company’s needs.

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