Anticipation: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Keynote
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We’re all aware that failures happen in every system, and that being prepared to respond to them is paramount. But bringing resilience to your site and your organization also means developing your anticipation muscles; to explicitly work out what fears you may have about your system’s limits and failure modes, and understand what you’ll do when those unfortunate events happen.

This creative thinking about failure is what you use to guide your architecture, your development, your processes, your hiring, and hopefully: your business.

Putting in place contingency plans for when things might go wrong means first having an engineer’s imagination for those possible failures and surprising outcomes.

I’m going to talk about walking the fine line between immobilizing paranoia and a healthy but constant sense of unease in order to build your anticipation muscles.

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John Allspaw

Adaptive Capacity Labs

John Allspaw has worked in software systems engineering and operations for twenty years in many different environments: biotech, government, online media, social networking, and e-commerce. He started out tuning parallel clusters running vehicle crash simulations for the U.S. government, and then moved on to the Internet in 1997. He built the backing infrastructure at Salon.com, InfoWorld.com, Friendster, and Flickr, and Etsy. He served as SVP of Engineering and then Chief Technology Officer at Etsy, and holds an MSc in Human Factors and Systems Safety from Lund University.

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John Allspaw
10/11/2011 10:59 CET

Paul: you’re right. I have a blog post coming with even further detail on the topic, including references. I’m going to update the slides with references at the end now, and will send to O’Reilly.

Paul Nasrat
10/11/2011 10:54 CET

It’d be great if there were links to the papers referenced in the slides. I assume a lot from Resilience Engineering works – www.resilience-engineering-...

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