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16 April, 2014: After Action Report – The Architectural Roots of Failures of Large Systems

by Communications Team on May 3, 2014  •   Print This Post Print This Post   •   

The Architectural Roots of Failures of Large Systems

After Action Report:
On April 16th, the Chesapeake Chapter was treated to a lecture given by Mr. Richard Taylor of Evolver, Inc. APL’s Parsons Auditorium was again filled with an intrigued audience, as Mr. Taylor gave his talk, “The Architectural Roots of Failures of Large Systems.”

Taylor emphasized that many system failures stem from weaknesses with either performance or complexity. To combat these weak points, Taylor focused on three architectural concepts: scalability, incremental performance testing, and robust external interfaces. To facilitate scalability, Taylor recommended the isolation and subsequent testing of individual clusters. This aids incremental performance testing as well, alongside the partitioning of autonomous subsystems. Partitioning allows for incremental performance testing and integration, to ensure that the full range of system behavior can be simulated in a lab setting, before being placed in the field. Finally, Mr. Taylor described how complexity lives in system interfaces. A central idea here is that data should be “fit for use” by the interacting systems. Throughout the talk, and even more so during the discussion with the audience that followed, Taylor expertly justified the strengths of the triumvirate of scalability, incremental performance testing, and robustness of interfaces.

To found out more about how to avoid architectural system failures, make sure to watch the video recording of Mr. Taylor’s lecture, available in our video library, or on YouTube.


Speaker: Mr. Taylor is an experienced systems architect who has designed many large, complex systems in highly diverse domains, including banking systems, the GPS ground system, the 2000 and 2010 Decennial Censuses, and Classified Intelligence Systems. He has made numerous presentations on systems architecting at international conferences and has published several articles on systems architecting in trade journals. Mr. Taylor presently works for Evolver Inc. in Reston, Virginia and is also an Adjunct Professor for the UMBC College of Engineering and Information Technology, where he teaches Systems Architecture and Design.

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The Architectural Roots of Failures of Large Systems – Slides Here!

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