Run Less Software; Use Less Bits

Friday, 1 September, 2017 - 11:0011:30

Rich Archbold, Intercom


At Intercom, we believe that to enable us to:

  • improve availability and reduce risks,
  • save time and money,
  • improve operability,
  • and enable us to move fast for the long term
  • we should build and run Intercom using the smallest sensible set of core infrastructure components.
  • we are cautious about adding new technologies to the mix
  • we’d often rather consider using one of our existing/established technology components and write (and maintain) more software ourselves, rather than taken on the overhead of learning and maintaining expertise in a new / more powerful technology.
  • where tools, systems or workflows are required to support building/managing Intercom, especially in areas that could be deemed “undifferentiated heavy lifting”, we’d rather not write any software or operate any systems ourselves at all, and instead use world-class 3rd-party services.

We summarise this beliefs in a infrastructure design principle we call “run less software, use less bits”.

In this talk we use some real examples to go deep on how we use this principle to make hard decisions and good, informed, deliberate trade offs.

Rich Archbold, Intercom

Richard Archbold is an Engineering Director at Intercom, a highly successful and fast growing Irish technology startup company that provides customer communication software to Internet businesses. Intercom's mission is to make web business personal. Previous to Intercom, Richard has worked as a senior technology manager at Facebook Dublin where he was part of the team responsible for keeping Facebook online. Rich also spent eight years at Amazon in Dublin, helping found their Dublin office. While at Amazon, Rich held a number of positions ranging from engineer to senior engineering manager in both and AWS.

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@conference {205568,
author = {Rich Archbold},
title = {Run Less Software; Use Less Bits},
year = {2017},
address = {Dublin},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

Presentation Video 

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