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Amplify software resilience and learn from failures by asking how, not why

Part of the Architecting the Cloud podcast series

When systems fail, the blame game often begins, and, surprisingly, it begins with a simple question: "Why?" Instead, to build more resilient systems, as well as more trust among team members, ask what happened and how.

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Build resilience: When systems fail, don't ask why–ask what happened, and how

Critical failures happen to software systems; it’s just a fact. Learning from those failures and focusing on building resilience is more important than ferreting out who’s to blame. In this episode of the podcast, Mike Kavis and guest, Netflix’s Jessica DeVita, talk about resilience engineering and why asking "why" something happened is not the best way to deal with system failures. Instead, Jessica, through introducing the concepts of human factors thinking and local rationality, recommends that software teams ask what happened and how, so that blame is not a part of the equation and teams can build a culture of trust that can help build more resilient systems. She also gives salient advice on how companies can start their own resilience engineering journey starting with unlearning that human error is a cause.

Disclaimer: As referenced in this podcast, “Amazon” refers to AWS (Amazon Web Services) and “Google” refers to GCP (Google Cloud Platform).

Fundamentally, if you move away from the why question, you have a better shot at learning more from this incident.

Jessica DeVita is a senior applied resilience engineer at Netflix where she investigates incidents and outages in production software. She has 20 years of experience in IT operations across industries such as medical device, entertainment, and large scale cloud computing.

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Put Cloud in context with the future of business and technology

Because cloud is never just about cloud, a podcast about cloud isn’t either. Our two hosts deliver two unique perspectives to help bring you closer to achieving what matters most—your possible.

For Cloud Professionals, hosted by David Linthicum, provides an enterprise-level, strategic look at key issues impacting clients’ businesses. David, ranked as the #1 cloud influencer in a recent Apollo Research report, has published 13 books on computing, written over 5,000 published articles and performed over 500 conference presentations, making his specialization in the power of cloud simply undeniable.

As a pioneer in cloud computing, Mike Kavis leads Architecting the Cloud, which offers insights from the POV of those who’ve had hands-on experience with cloud technology. Mike’s personal cloud journey includes leading the team that built the world's first high-speed transaction network in Amazon's public cloud—a project that ultimately won the 2010 AWS Global Startup Challenge.

With two leaders in your ear, you’ll have the content you need to drive the next conversation around cloud. Check out both talk tracks within the Deloitte On Cloud podcast to get the compelling stories on your schedule to help you understand the topics that are reshaping today’s market.

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