The Buck Starts Here

For those of you non-Americans, there is an old expression called "passing the buck", which means to place the responsibility on someone else's shoulders instead of taking it yourself. President Harry Truman had the above sign on his desk, meaning that he had ultimate responsibility since there was nobody else he could "pass the buck" to.

As you know from earlier chapters, the performance of a distributed, Web-based application is determined by many factors, from database queries on the back end to the speed of the client connection on the front end. Many of these are beyond our control as developers and yet we still have more control over performance than anyone - a poorly written database query is slow regardless of the speed of the network, for example. And not just the network itself, but firewalls, domains, SSL encryption and a host of other things can impact performance in the production environment.

So even if the buck doesn’t STOP with development, it certainly does START with development. And yet developers by and large have abdicated that responsibility to QA and IT Operations, expecting that whatever performance testing is done when everything is in place will uncover any issues that might be lurking. “It worked great in the lab” is a familiar refrain because it’s true – in the lab there are 1GB Ethernet connections to dedicated servers being accessed by developers who have the fastest computers in the company!

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