Reality is a Worthy Opponent: The Joy of Operational Challenges

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A central part of the joy of being an engineer comes from solving hard problems.  And there are few problems as interestingly hard as operational problems — and not just technical operations, but business operations as well.  Keeping a fleet of servers up and running, keeping packages flowing through a warehouse, routing and scheduling truck movements across the country. Operational efforts attempt to build reliable systems on top of crazily unreliable substrates.  Servers overheat and crash, packages get dropped and run over by forklifts, trucks blow out tires and get stuck by the side of the road.
 
In this keynote, I’ll talk about how I’ve come to love these operational challenges.  I’ll discuss some tactics I’ve found useful in approaching them, and I’ll share some hard-won lessons from Wayfair’s experience scaling its proprietary logistics network.
 
Dan Milstein, Wayfair