Scale, Software and Throughput

Software is eating the world” (ala Mark Andreesen) and becoming increasingly pervasive: phones, app’s, TVs, routers, fridges (why? no idea), drones, SCADA systems, industrial controls, cars, etc. etc., the boundary of things connected to the internet fabric, opens up new types of services but also massive new types of vulnerabilities. The Internet of Things (IoT) is creating a world of always connected, changing and updating devices.

Scale also refers to the flood of changes that occur in software on a daily basis either due to new features or reactions to needed and required fixes. Keep in mind that software is a collection of building blocks, dependencies within dependencies.

Software has become a deep, wide and fast moving river of change.

Henry Ford and the the manufacturing industry figured out how to deal with scale: simplify, automate and control to optimize throughput. The first thing Ford and Company did was simplify how a car could be built, this required reengineering of parts, but more often than not it required simplifying how the person interacted with the car build process, breaking down tasks into small units, simplifying movements, getting atomic. This created the modern moving assembly line with manned unskilled labor. The skilled labor moved up the design stack and became the engineers who designed the car AND the mechanics of the tooling, build systems and delivery processes. In effect the skilled labor was able to scale their efforts through simplified processes and optimize simply and build chains.

DevOps culture and techniques are pushing this mentality into software creation and delivery: the developer is the designer, after that administrators and operations requires as much automation as possible to deploy change, scale and manage issues as quickly as possible.

Oftentimes we come across great point solutions (or products) to help with software development and delivery, but they don’t address the needs of an end-to-end enterprise supply chain.


An older book that does a great job of describing the accelerating change occurring in the software development and operations industry is The Goal ( It’s focus was on the revolution of merging just-in-time (JIT) delivery/logistics of material with updated manufacturing and information technology systems to simplify and lower the costs associated with create/build/delivery of physical goods. It is a must read for anyone currently in the software delivery game who is seeking to optimize, manage and understand software supply chains, i.e., moving from install DVDs to always on software stream.

Software is being forced into this model to handle the scale required by validation and verification, security and vulnerability analysis, and target platform support (mobile, desktop, cloud and all of the OS variants).