We never change the amount of work or technical debt; we just shift it, and with it, we change how it emerges and appears. Our systems don’t have to be perfect to be operational—planes, networks, and elite athletes all function at extremely high levels even though they are not operating at 100%. As an industry, we have moved the locus of control from hardware to operating system to virtual machine to container to orchestration, and now we’re approaching serverless.
None of that has reduced the amount of work you have to do; it just makes it so you can reuse and conceptually compress the work of others. Since we’re making the work in our tools less visible, we also have less control over how they work. We assume the promises that have been true will continue to be true, but that isn’t in our control.
Heidi Waterhouse asks, How do we handle this level of uncertainty? You’ll learn to add in error budgets, layered access, and other accommodations for failure and to design your systems for function over form or purity. You’ll leave with some concrete ideas about how to add resiliency to your system by learning to trust but mitigate your reliance on perfect performance of your underlying tools.
Heidi Waterhouse is a developer advocate with LaunchDarkly. She delights in working at the intersection of usability, risk reduction, and cutting-edge technology. One of her favorite hobbies is talking to developers about things they already knew but had never thought of that way before. She sews all her conference dresses so that she’s sure there is a pocket for the mic.
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