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The Slow Software Movement

Those who build SaaS know that you’re actually providing an experience. You’re building long-term relationships and aiming for recurring revenue. Therefore, your product must be flexible, resilient, and consistent.

Many companies find it hard to take time, acquire the right ingredients, and design truly great software from the bottom-up. This is understandable given how fast the SaaS industry moves.

But firstly, who am I to be talking about this subject? My education was in Economics and Complex Systems, and I've been fortunate to gain exposure to various IT trends and tools working almost a decade mostly in Tech. I started interviewing customers at Continuent (majority SaaS) over five years ago, and I have listened to a number of DevOps, IT, Systems Engineers and DBAs talk about their goals and limitations.

With so many self-serve, grab-and-go tools such as AWS Aurora, CloudSQL and instant-downloads to DIY, it can be tempting to point-and-click because these methods sound like they should get you up quickly, easily, and cheaply. Especially without knowledgeable and trusted collaborators, it is challenging and not always part of your mission to build a scalable and reliable system or achieve continuous operations.

In the age of fast food, fast fashion, fast relationships, do we really want to go down the path of fast software? Certainly not past a certain scale. Jerome H. Saltzer and M. Frans Kaashoek illustrate in their book, Principles of Computer Systems Design:

The captain of a modern oil supertanker finds that the ship is so massive that when underway at full speed it takes 12 miles to bring it to a straight line stop—but 12 miles is beyond the horizon as viewed from the ship’s bridge.

Partly because not all elements of a system scale the same way, it can be pretty important for a growing business to design architecture with veterans; those who have been building and maintaining large-scale geographically distributed systems for decades have an irreplaceable vantage point.

There’s a lot to be said for UX and UI to keep a relationship going, but what’s under the hood is non-negotiable. There are enormous costs to correct problems in foundational architecture. Some SaaS companies are taking pleasure in the process of building and providing the highest quality digital experiences - and their approach is slow, not fast.

There is no quick and easy solution for anything great. This is the reason SaaS brands run their operations on hardened, open source databases like MySQL and MariaDB. Backing up mysqld with certain guarantees of reliability and resilience such as zero downtime maintenance empowers organizations to achieve more with less.

Architecture in Greece, still standing after thousands of years. Photographer: Sofiwa

If you are creating a digital experience people love, reach out, the experts who specialize in continuous database operations would love to speak with you. My colleagues love being there for people on this mission.

Since 2004, Continuent has been providing solutions that help organizations leverage MySQL for geographically distributed business-critical applications. Some 70% of Continuent’s customers are SaaS providers, including companies such as Adobe, F-Secure, Marketo, NewVoiceMedia running multi-billion dollar businesses on proven solutions for continuous MySQL availability.

Tungsten creates clusters at your database layer so you may reap long-term benefits of reliability, performance, and efficiency from MySQL, MariaDB, or Percona Server. It requires no application changes, works with on-prem, hybrid, cloud, and multi-cloud environments and includes 24/7 enterprise-level support.

This is not the point-and-click approach - you must discuss and design with our highly experienced engineers. However, from what I’ve seen, you will be glad you did so.

About the Author

Sara Captain
Customer Success Manager

Sara has worn various hats at Continuent since 2014. Listening to Continuent customers over the years, Sara fell in love with the Continuent Tungsten suite of products. She started learning Linux and MySQL administration with the support of Continuent's amazing team, so she can help with keeping Customers happy. Prior to Continuent she worked in consulting with a focus on leveraging data.

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