Speed, Security, and Scalability: Pick Only 2!

How do you measure the effectivity of an engineering group?

Photograph credit score bolovtsova

This text will break down this query into three attributes: Velocity, Safety, and Scalability (and name them the 3S).

First, we are going to describe a number of the challenges engineering groups face once they concurrently attempt to be nice on the 3S.

Subsequent, we are going to overview how firms of all sizes would possibly change their technique to adapt to their enterprise wants. And at last, we are going to take a look at a couple of fascinating developments that might assist some engineering groups of their journey.

What’s 3S?

Velocity: The time it takes for an thought to go to market

Metrics: Time to market, variety of options shipped.

Traits noticed:

  • Particular person contributors have a variety of autonomy and might transfer quick
  • Fewer processes and checks when making modifications
  • Innovation is a differentiator.
  • It could actually result in function creep and tech debt.

Safety: The strategy of incorporating safety controls into the knowledge system

Metrics: Variety of safety incidents, weighted by severity, Compliance achievements.

Traits noticed:

  • Particular person contributors have shared possession and hold one another accountable
  • Many processes and checks when making modifications
  • Innovation may very well be seen as a danger
  • Compliance and safety necessities change into key initiatives, taking on the product roadmap at occasions

Scalability: The flexibility of a system to vary in measurement or quantity

Metrics: Efficiency and Uptime metrics

Traits noticed:

  • Particular person contributors depend on instruments and automation. Establishing this automation could be advanced and time-consuming within the preliminary phases
  • Elevated automation
  • Infrastructure as code
  • Multi-region, Multi-cloud
  • Tech debt can impair scalability

Why attempting to excel on the 3S could be counterproductive?

Whereas these three attributes are well-intentioned, they may generally act as opposing forces. Let’s present a couple of examples.

Velocity working towards Safety: To stop builders from being blocked, one would possibly give them full entry to some programs. However that will additionally go towards the safety necessities.

Scalability towards Velocity: One scalability purpose may very well be to make use of a number of areas, probably multi-cloud suppliers. However that will make the discharge and deployment course of way more difficult for builders. This additionally creates a brand new downside; the applying information is now saved in lots of locations.

Safety towards Scalability: To enhance safety, each new system or library would possibly require an approval course of earlier than utilizing it. However that might imply introducing a brand new device or expertise to enhance scalability (ex: Kubernetes) is slower. Moreover, it may create deadlocks the place innovation is a danger within the worst case.

We might present extra arguments on the place to place the cursor and result in emotional discussions for all of those examples. The reply is likely to be completely different for every firm. However the level is made, these could be opposing forces. If a enterprise has restricted assets, it’d wish to make an informed resolution about the place it wish to put its focus to cut back these friction factors.

Introducing pointless complexity when the enterprise doesn’t want it may be damaging. Possibly the present staff doesn’t have all the abilities required, in order that they might want to ramp up. It would decelerate the flexibility to go to market. Some groups would work on some initiatives that turned out to be not required. Having reverse forces would possibly result in heated discussions and delay selections. Finally it might negatively affect morale and result in attrition.

We will parallel the CAP theorem and state that an engineering staff can’t concurrently excel at Velocity, Scalability, and Safety to push this even additional.

The CAP theorem states {that a} distributed system can’t concurrently be Consistent, Available, and Partition tolerant.

Huge disclaimer: it’s not about dropping one attribute however accepting that the main target must be on the 2 different attributes on the present stage. The engineering staff will probably be extra targeted by clearly stating what the corporate wants now and speaking in regards to the accepted tradeoffs. An ideal chief would anticipate a step additional of their message and clarify how they’d deal with right this moment’s tradeoff sooner or later. And put together accordingly when the time approaches.

Which 3S to decide?

Early-stage startups worth Velocity earlier than the rest. They wish to discover their market and hold their prospects completely satisfied by transport new product options at a excessive tempo.

Some industries reminiscent of Finance or Healthcare would possibly dictate that Safety alongside Velocity is the highest attribute to focus on.

Extra distinguished startups experiencing excessive development would normally favor Scalability and Velocity. In the event that they compete in a winner-takes-all market, that technique will permit them to execute on their product roadmap and attain out to new markets quicker. If they’re making ready for IPO or increasing globally, their compliance necessities will make them pivot to concentrate on Safety and Scalability.

Lastly, huge tech firms with years of expertise had time to be taught and went via the various phases themselves. In consequence, they’ve a number of the greatest and largest engineering groups; they excel on the 3S.

That is additionally not unusual for big firms to spin up a novel challenge into an unbiased entity to allow it to maneuver quicker, generally additionally known as an Inside Startup.

What’s subsequent for the 3S?

No one can predict the longer term, however we are able to observe some developments out there and report a number of the suggestions we hear from our customers.

Velocity: hiring is the bottleneck, a brand new wave of startups coming in

Early-stage funding is at an all-time excessive, and it’s a race for these startups to seek out their market. The primary impairment to hurry at the present time appears to be tech hiring. As a result of hiring is gradual, they wish to do extra with fewer individuals. A brand new wave of PaaS and software program simplifies on a regular basis engineering duties.

Simplifying cloud computing is our mission for Opta, however there are a lot of different new startups whose purpose is to assist builders. We’ve a couple of thrilling examples amongst our customers: Canvas, which brings SQL to non-technical groups, and Union.ai, which simplifies machine studying.

Scalability: Kubernetes adoption, multi-cloud, and demand for opinionated frameworks

There’s a huge trade development to maneuver to Kubernetes. But it surely comes with some challenges and frequent upgrades (not all backward compatible). Utilizing Kubernetes is a journey, not a vacation spot. This complexity is typically misunderstood and might negatively affect the product roadmap by holding engineering assets.

The newest HashiCorp State of Cloud survey reported that multi-cloud is now the brand new regular. Cloud suppliers are very completely different, and supporting many will create way more work for the engineering staff. Our prospects need Kubernetes on their cloud supplier however don’t essentially have a powerful opinion on how they need to configure it. They need greatest practices, reminiscent of utility monitoring and Infrastructure-as-Code.

Safety: assist wanted with Kubernetes networking and IAM

Right here once more, transferring to Kubernetes creates extra complexity. Most cloud suppliers present a service to run a cluster, however it’s as much as the consumer to set their community (ingress, service mesh) and IAM for his or her cluster. Some firms begin with Kubernetes; they don’t wish to begin from a clean state. They respect utilizing merchandise that may present an opinionated technique to configure their networking stack, from their Load Balancer to the applying pods operating on their cluster.

What now we have seen

This text checked out engineering effectivity by contemplating the 3S: Velocity, Safety, and Scalability. For a lot of firms, attempting to excel on all 3S too early can create pointless complexity, growing the tech debt. This might in the end create frustration for the engineering staff and result in attrition.

Relying on the stage and the market the place the enterprise operates, it’d make sense to concentrate on one or two attributes concurrently. Speaking clearly in regards to the present technique and the tradeoffs will assist the engineering staff keep targeted.

The newest developments, such because the tech hiring disaster and the recognition of Kubernetes, have left some firms turning to new merchandise which simplify their engineering duties to allow them to execute on their roadmap with fewer hires.

Find out how to Handle your Workforce’s Infrastructure Simply

Opta, our free, open-source device, reduces a lot of the complexity of cloud infrastructure and pipelines in your staff. It’s an Infrastructure-as-Code framework constructed on high of Terraform that permits you to work with high-level constructs to arrange customized cloud infrastructure rapidly.

Wish to Join?
For those who run into any points within the set up stage, you'll be able to attain out to the contributors in our slack channel here


Speed, Security, and Scalability: Pick Only 2! was initially revealed in Better Programming on Medium, the place individuals are persevering with the dialog by highlighting and responding to this story.

More Posts