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Release It!, 2nd Edition by Michael T. Nygard

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Cascading Failures

System failures start with a crack. That crack comes from some fundamental problem. Maybe there’s a latent bug that some environmental factor triggers. Or there could be a memory leak, or some component just gets overloaded. Things to slow or stop the crack are the topics of the next chapter. Absent those mechanisms, the crack can progress and even be amplified by some structural problems. A cascading failure occurs when a crack in one layer triggers a crack in a calling layer.

An obvious example is a database failure. If an entire database cluster goes dark, then any application that calls the database is going to experience problems of some kind. What happens next depends on how the caller is written. If the caller handles ...

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