The software industry and NASA

No... I'm not talking about how NASA uses or develops software. We typically call software releases "launches" and got to thinking about parallels that can be drawn between software launches and space shuttle launches.

In both cases, the event is what the management types like to call "mission critical". When they launch a space shuttle, they set a launch day. However, nobody faults NASA for calling off a launch for any reason. After all, we're talking about a lot of money and, more importantly, people's lives at stake. Maybe I've been unlucky, but it's been my experience that the same cannot be said of software launches. I'll grant that it's typically not the same scale. But there seems to be a willingness to "launch" software with known defects in the interest of getting it out the door. And while I can appreciate that at some level, I think the software industry would benefit if we treated software launches more like shuttle launches. Treat it as though you're strapping a couple of people to a multi-ton hunk of metal and electronics filled with liquid oxygen and throwing it out of the atmosphere. That is to say a risky endeavor where you won't be able to fix things in situ. Listen when the QA guy says "Houston, we have a problem". Your mission specialists will thank you for it.

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