- He identified a task needing performance improvement: "compiling is too slow."
- He hypothesized that converting from spinning rust disk drives (thanks mwf) to solid state, flash hard drives would improve performance of compiling. (Note here that Joel stated that his "goal was to try spending money, which is plentiful, before [he] spent developer time, which is scarce.")
- So he spent some money (which is, um, plentiful) and some of his own time (which is apparently less scarce than that of his developers) replacing a couple of hard drives with SSD. If you follow his Twitter stream, you can see that he started on it 3/25 12:15p and wrote about having finished at 3/27 2:52p.
- He was pleased with how much faster the machines were in general, but he was disappointed that his compile times underwent no material performance improvement.
100% Not disk I/O 0% Disk I/O ---- ------------ 100% TotalI'm not judging whether he wasted his time by doing the upgrade. By his own account, he is pleased at how fast his SSD-enabled machines are now. But if, say, the compiling performance problem had been survival-threateningly severe, then he wouldn't have wanted to expend two business days' worth of effort upgrading a component that was destined to make zero difference to the performance of the task he was trying to improve.
So, why would someone embark upon a performance improvement project without first knowing exactly what result he should be able to expect? I can think of some good reasons:
- You don't know how to profile the thing that's slow. Hey, if it's going to take you a week to figure out how to profile a given task, then why not spend half that time doing something that your instincts all say is surely going to work?
- Um, ...
I do know that in the Oracle world, it's not hard anymore, and the tools don't cost nearly as much as they used to. There's no need anymore to upgrade something before you know specifically what's going to happen to your response times. Why guess... when you can know.