Build resilient systems at scale
May 27–29, 2015 • Santa Clara, CA

Failure is an option

Ian Malpass (Etsy)
2:40pm–3:20pm Thursday, 05/28/2015
Location: Mission City Ballroom B1
Average rating: ****.
(4.61, 28 ratings)
Slides:   1-PDF 

Prerequisite Knowledge



Despite our best efforts, we fail. From bugs to delivery failures, product planning problems to complex system failures, even the most experienced people in our industry are accustomed to failure. If we accept that failure is indeed inevitable, and embrace it rather than rail against it, how does that change our approach to work?

I’ll begin by talking about failure and its ensuing and varied costs, and compare our instinctive reactions (slow down) and Etsy’s approach (trust and speed), and what we’ve learned along the way.

I’ll cover the advantages of keeping things fast, and how we use technology to help us do that (and stay that way), and also what we do when things do go wrong (as they inevitably will).

I won’t present a one-size-fits-all Royal Road to Safety, because there isn’t one. Instead, I’ll aim to kickstart conversations you can have with your colleagues about your organisation’s attitude to risk, and what changes you might want to make to cope with your own future failures.

Photo of Ian Malpass

Ian Malpass


Ian is a senior software engineer at Etsy, and has been with the company for over five years working on areas from internal tooling to fraud detection and risk analysis. He’s currently on the Community Engineering team, making tools to help Etsy’s members organically form communities built on mutual success.