Friday, October 31, 2014

Paralysis by Analysis

A lot of times we run into Paralysis by Analysis. We use Lucene for indexing cloud storage data and its a very old home grown system, we are soon going to retire it and replace it with Elastic Search.  Recently we ran into Paralysis by Analysis situation where we were waiting for Elastic Search project to go live to implement Folder Search and we were debating over it for months while customers were cribbing for it. The move to Elastic Search requires migration of billions of files and PetaBytes of contents to be migrated which can take months. Finally I got approval that instead of waiting for ElasticSearch lets do a simple canonical prefix based search out of database directly. It took 2 days to implement server api and 1 week for UI,plumbing work and QA.  As we use Mysql Sharding, the solution scaled fine, all I needed to ensure was proper indexes were there. Two days I got email from Support that customers are in love with Folder search :).

Offcourse this is not perfect solution because we cant do fuzzy searches, word tokenization and all the power that comes with Elastic Search but may be 90% of the customers dont even need them and eventually after Elastic Search we would reach there.  This is why hackathons are more important because people would come up with quick hacks that weren’t earlier done due to Paralysis by Analysis but improve the product.  Not each hack would make it to production or some would make it but not scale or would get low usage from customers, so they need to be culled.  But sometimes all you need is "to try". Some hacks If I have to participate in a hackathon would be :

  1. Activity streams on Folders
  2. Folder comments
  3. Workflows on top of documents
  4. User and Groups Audit report
  5. Better custom SMTP integration
  6. Status monitor like https://status.newrelic.com/
  7. Show creation time and posted time of file on UI
  8. Server based trigger for uploading sync client logs (this is one of my pet peeve).
  9. Parallel execution of unit tests
  10. and many more