Mission: Critical

The plan was simple. A tremendous idea for a web project to conquer a niche you carefully studied: check. Experienced team of designers, coders and marketers you trust: check. Assets, resources, time: check. And then, fast-forward four months—it’s showtime. A few hours to launch, everything is in place, you’re ready for all circumstances you can imagine. But something just isn’t right. The silence is unbearable.

Zero hour and… Critical hit. You didn’t expect your database server to go nuts. Or maybe you didn’t expect so many users on the first day. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

You say: Impossible.

How it could happen, if you were that well prepared? Many wonder, but even the biggest players and projects are at risk of making large-scale mistakes:

In January 2009, Google’s search engine erroneously notified users that every web site worldwide was potentially malicious, including its own. *
or:
A booster went off course during launch, resulting in the destruction of NASA Mariner 1. This was the result of the failure of a transcriber to notice an overbar in a written specification for the guidance program […] *

It happens all the time. Obamacare technology glitches, anyone?

Designing Mission–Critical Software

Realize the imperfections of software development and use proven techniques to avoid common pitfalls. Start from good concept and design and end on well thought out testing patterns.

Your systems will fail—accept it. The question is: are you prepared for this? Can you handle it? Our experience tells us it’s possible, just try to have as many backup plans as you can. That way you can at least minimize implications of the problem and react fast.

* List of software bugs with serious consequences from Wikipedia
Image courtesy of mlaker on flickr (CC)