Friday, September 25, 2009

"Stability anti-patterns" highlight importance of tracking non-functional requirements

Michael Nygard, author of the influential Release It!, delivered a fantastic speech at QCon London where he dives into the various flavors of "stability anti-patterns" that can (and probably will) plague your web operations.

The explicit lessons alone are worth watching his presentation. However, there is also a more subtle lesson delivered over the course of the speech. Whether it was intentional or not, Michael illustrates the importance (and difficulty) of tracking non-functional requirements across the application lifecycle.

Some of the knowledge of where your next failure could come from lives in Development. Some of it lives in Operations. Sometimes it even lives in the well-intentioned plans of your marketing department.

What are you doing about sharing and tracking that knowledge? If you are like most organizations, you are probably relying on tribal knowledge to avoid these pitfalls. Development handles what they know about, Operations handles what they know about, and everyone crosses their fingers and hopes it all works out. Unlike the well understood processes and tooling used to track business requirements, non-functional requirements all too often fly under the radar or are afterthoughts to be handled during production deployment.


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