Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lean Startups and Scalability

I wrote this as a reply to Does Lean Startup Methodology Apply to Consumer Startups?" However, due to comment length restrictions on that blog, I am posting my comment here and welcome your thoughts.

"An enterprise will pilot products and iterate with a vendor: Let's run a 6 month consulting engagement/pilot to evaluate if this new database solves the problem."

Only an enterprise where there is a major disconnect between management and engineering will opt for this path. In enterprises where needed data I/O patterns are understood, taking such path may spell disaster.

The primary problem with the 'lean startup' methodology that I see is that it blindly preaches entrepreneurs to close their eyes, cut corners and just get the product to market without fully understanding the future scalability needs. Scalability doesn't has to be sacrificed in order to build a lean startup, except in those cases where there is no architect on board.

Many entrepreneurs think of taking route of frameworks in early days only to find out the haunting effects as growth happens.

Case studies exist where massive infrastructures with low latencies have been built without blowing budgets and need for re-architecting infrastructures. The concept of lean startups is great, but incomplete (especially as it is being preached).

When the right architects and team is on-board, building the right way also becomes the lean way.

<update> Let's not forget that data is the most valuable asset of an organization and every migration a great opportunity for a screwup. Do you really want to migrate it around from database to database as you sit with your fingers crossed hoping that the latest vendor will solve your problem? Or does it make more sense to invest in an experienced architect and then make decisions rather than shooting in the dark? I'll let you decide the rest.

1 comment:

arjen said...

To me, it appears like the lean startup methodology is incomplete, it focuses on one thing at the expense of other factors.

What we do with Upstarta (upstarta.biz, which is based on my experience/learning and how Open Query was built) is seriously consider business processess, they natural arise from how you do something and decisions you made earlier. In short, all actions have consequences, and disregarding that is I think a fatal flaw.

It is, however, very common - we can see many/most business around us doing it on a daily basis. Similar with very experienced CEOs and managers. So the "lean startup" methodology is by no means alone there... that corner is highly crowded ;-)