Friday, July 31, 2009

Marketing Numbers

Someone walks up to you and says, "how does it perform?"

Don't answer. Not yet. Hang on just a second.

Consider Your Definition
"Perform" has a lot of possible meanings. It could mean response time for a single request. It could mean how many users you can handle. It could be a request to describe latency. It could be an interest in the performance characteristics of the system, including a discussion of potential and measured bottlenecks.

If you say, "50 users", you may not be answering the question. Whoops.

Once you've clarified what they're asking for, then it's time to consider what to tell them.

Consider Your Questioner
Different people have different needs for answers. For example:
  • Your marketing guy needs the best answers he can have to blow competitors out of the water
  • Your sales guy needs the fastest numbers on realistic data sets
  • Your support engineers need numbers for a long-running semi-loaded system, more average than fastest. They can then use these to determine if customers are running slow.
  • Your developers need consistent numbers that match field averages and peak, so they can see changes over time.
And then open your mouth and answer the question... "how does it perform?"

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