Cover by Chris Vander Mey

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Chapter 9. How to Build Great, Shippable Technology

IF YOU WANT TO ship a great product quickly, you must be able to ask insightful questions, provide good directional guidance, and make smart technical decisions about what you must build now and what you can build later. You must also be able to evaluate and hire engineering managers. Therefore, you must understand your technology at least as well as you understand the oil in your car. You know the oil doesn’t make the car go, but you also know that you had better keep it filled up or your Dodge Dart will become an oversized doorstop. That’s all you really need to know to get home.

While you need to be technical enough to address these issues, I believe you don’t need a computer science degree to achieve shipping greatness. You can achieve shipping greatness if you understand the systems approach I take in this chapter. In fact, I’m convinced that if you understand these things, you can coast gracefully through the technical part of a lead-level interview at Google, Amazon, or Microsoft. If you want to ace an interview or gracefully handle a product development process, you need to know the four S’s: servers, services, speed, and scaling. Once you understand these four basic elements, you’ll be able to ask your team the right questions.

The First S: Servers

Don’t buy servers if you can help it. First, you’ll have to learn a lot about servers, and anything you learn will be obsolete in six months, which is frustrating and inefficient. ...

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