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Mind Your Outcomes: Quality-Centric Systems Development


This paper directly addresses a critical issue that affects the development of many complex distributed software systems: how to establish quickly, cheaply and reliably whether they will deliver their intended performance before expending significant time, effort and money on detailed design and implementation. We describe ΔQSD, a novel metrics-based and quality-centric paradigm that uses formalised outcome diagrams to explore the performance consequences of design decisions, as a performance blueprint of the system. The ΔQSD paradigm is both effective and generic: it allows values from various sources to be combined in a rigorous way, so that approximate results can be obtained quickly and subsequently refined. ΔQSD has been successfully used by Predictable Network Solutions for consultancy on large-scale applications in a number of industries, including telecommunications, avionics, and space and defence, resulting in cumulative savings of $Bs. The paper outlines the ΔQSD paradigm, describes its formal underpinnings, and illustrates its use via a topical real-world example taken from the blockchain/cryptocurrency domain, where application of this approach enabled an advanced distributed proof-of-stake system to meet challenging throughput targets.