Information Sharing

In a startup there is always a worry that one would reveal too much information about their infrastructure to their competitors that they’ll be able to “simply copy it” and erode their competitive advantage. I will readily admit that from time to time I too suffer from that worry but then the logical side takes over and says “a single technology / idea / approach does not make a scalable infrastructure”. This morning I was reading Alex Payne‘s blog post on “Node and Scaling in the Small vs Scaling in the Large“. There are a number of passages that resonated with me but I will focus on one in particular:

In a system of significant scale, there is no magic bullet.

When your system is faced with a deluge of work to do, no one technology is going to make it all better. When you’re operating at scale, pushing the needle means a complex, coordinated dance of well-applied technologies, development techniques, statistical analyses, intra-organizational communication, judicious engineering management, speedy and reliable operationalization of hardware and software, vigilant monitoring, and so forth. Scaling is hard. So hard, in fact, that the ability to scale is a deep competitive advantage of the sort that you can’t simply go out and download, copy, purchase, or steal.

Either the ability to scale is in the DNA of your technologists or its not. If you don’t have that DNA then you can pick up any technology no matter how performant and make it fail. If you do have the DNA then you’re going to find a way to be successful.

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