Dilemma of speed vs. scale in software system development best practices from industry leaders
System Design and Management Program.
Michael A M Davies.
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Many startup organizations face a dilemma as they scale up and their systems grow more complex. This dilemma is between the speed of releases i.e. agility and the scalability of their systems, reflected in the performance, stability and maintainability of their systems as they become larger. A startup is typically very nimble and releases new features and updates to its product very quickly. However, as a startup grows bigger the frequency of releases typically tends to go down. A similar phenomenon is observed in case of incumbent organizations, those that are old, large and complex, and that already have systems at scale; they have systems that perform at scale, and are stable and maintainable, but the pace of development is slow, and it find it hard to speed up their release cycles. Through the study of organizations that have successfully reconciled the required and coveted scalability along with speed as these organizations moved from being small startups to become larger, this study demonstrates that speed vs scale is a dilemma for startups that can be reconciled as they scale up, because there are a set of practices such as modular architecture choices, minimizing work in progress by adopting frequent deployments, automation in testing and utilizing innovative management techniques, which can enable startup organizations to scale up their system and maintain high speed. Although the study of incumbents as they try to speed up while maintaining their scalability is outside the scope of this work, this study also presents a hypothesis for further investigation that it may also be possible for incumbent organizations to speed up at large scale, by embracing these practices.
Thesis: S.M. in Engineering and Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, School of Engineering, System Design and Management Program, 2017.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 90-93).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering and Management Program.; System Design and Management Program.; System Design and Management Program
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Engineering and Management Program., System Design and Management Program.