Gut Feeling

A startup company always needs more money. This is the basic truth of our existence. No matter how much money you raise, you need more. You need to expand, bring more business, more employees to support the new business, and that costs money—new money that usually you still don’t have.

So we are also in the middle of a round, as always, and have brought aboard an ‘old school’ investor who is very knowledgeable regarding our business and how to build a healthy and stable company. It’s interesting to see the difference between different types of investors. Some use Excel and drill down to fine precision, while others just use ‘Gut Feeling.’

This is exactly what the 2002 Nobel prize winners, Daniel Kahneman and Vernon Smith, studied for a long time—behavior based on prior experience of some kind. They discovered that human decisions, rather than being based on a full analysis of the situation, often rely on shortcuts or rules of thumb. So for us (the measure freaks that measure and calculate everything that moves), it’s often hard to deal with ‘Gut Feeling.’

However, it reminded me that I see the same thing when there are application performance problems. Usually, there are no well defined measures of what is the desired performance and what we should compare to. And I’m referring to sites that do have SLA measurement of some kind, but almost all of them don’t have a RUM (Real User Measurement) solution, so they rely on synthetic robots of some kind to measure their performance. But these synthetic measurements don’t always reflect what is going on in the entire data center. And you’ll be surprised at how much organizations still don’t have constant SLA measurement of their entire services, synthetic or not.

So how can you solve a performance problem when you can’t know for sure what was before and what you should aim to? Usually, our first step is to implement a quick service level measurement solution—either using our SLAce / SharePath products—or (if the customer is cheap) a simple synthetic measurement—and wait for the problem to re-occur. Then we try to set expectations with the customer, regarding the level of improvement we can deliver.

But how do we know how much we can improve if we don’t have a clue regarding how things were before the problem??

Experience, expert knowledge, complex analysis of all the data we collected until the phenomena occurred again—or in other words–’Gut Feeling!’