Coffee and Design for Failure

In the wake of the Judgment Day Outage, I would like to offer you a story.

One morning John Doe woke up and decided he wanted a grande mocha. Nearby Starbucks was 3 minutes away by car. John went to his garage but looked like his garage door opener wouldn’t work - power was out at his house. John pulled the door up manually and started the engine.

As he approached exit from his subdivision, he noticed that the road was closed and road crews were working on an emergency power issue (one that caused power outage at his house). ETA was 30 minutes. The other exit from his subdivision was closed for 60 days due to road resurfacing.

John returned home, left his car in the garage and decided to walk to his nearby Starbucks. He noticed cloudy sky and took an umbrella. But it started to rain with strong wind gusts and his umbrella was not helping him a lot. He was soaking.

At that point John decided to give up on the idea of grande mocha from Starbucks and settled on his home brew. He returned home and didn’t have a Starbucks coffee that day.

Now, let me ask you - did John do a good job at designing for failure? After all, he was responsible for designing his process of obtaining coffee. He owned that process so he was in charge.

Or is John a rational individual who acted rationally under a given set of circumstances?

Two other blog posts of mine that you may like in this context are Normal Accidents in Complex IT Systems and Are You a Responsible Owner of Your Availability?.

Categories: infrastructure-development |