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As an attorney, I am frequently asked this question: "Is blah, blah, blah illegal?" To which I have a standard response: "The question of whether a given activity is illegal is uninteresting. A more interesting question is: What bad thing happens to you when you do blah, blah, blah?"
The question of whether a given application is mission critical is similarly uninteresting. A more interesting question is: "What bad thing happens to the business if the application fails?" And another interesting question: "How can we protect the business from the bad consequence of the application failing?"
In my experience, this varies dramatically based upon the nature of the application. For example, the failure of a typical Oracle application will result in severe consequences to the business. This is because of the nature of the beast: Oracle is typically used to manage the primary business data of the enterprise. Thus, loss of even a single Oracle transaction (say the trading instructions of a customer of a stock broker) would result in hard, severe legal consequences.
In this context (i.e. a traditional 2nd platform application like Oracle), concepts like backup, clustering, and remote replication all make perfect sense, and EMC has exceptional products to supply those needs.
A 3rd platform application is typically very different. Take MongoDB, an application with which I am fairly familiar. Mongo folks will consistently tell you: "You are going to lose some data. Get over it!" Thus, Mongo is not used for any purpose where transactional consistency is required. Usually, the customer will implement Mongo for an intermediate stage, scratchpad type of function.
Also, Mongo datastores are often astronomically large. (Petabytes are common.) It is simply not possible to back up something that big.
Further, Mongo implements sharding, a geographically dispersed form of redundant replication. For this reason, the loss of a single Mongo server is simply uninteresting. No consequences occur at all from this, other than possibly a minor, temporary performance blip.
For these reasons, clustering, backup and remote replication are not very interesting for a 3rd platform application like Mongo (although there is some variability in that).
And therein lies the challenge for a company like EMC, which has traditionally dominated in the mission-critical 2nd platform types of applications, similar to Oracle. But then again, EMC has a long and storied tradition of reinvention. I have no doubt that EMC will eventually become one of the dominant players in the 3rd platform.