Order of Magnitude

Brian Bulkowski, Aerospike Founder and CTO Blog

In his article posted October 30 on Medium, Brian Bulkowski, Aerospike’s Founder and CTO, shares his thoughts on what it means when engineers speak about ‘an order of magnitude’ and why business leaders should pay attention when they hear that phrase. Here are a few highlights from Brian’s article:

Order of Magnitude

Software engineers occasionally toss around the phrase “order of magnitude” without fully explaining its potential ground-shaking, business-transforming difference. They might say something like, “Oh yeah, it’s ten times faster.” But Brian has come to conclude this engineering conversational shorthand is not appreciated and fully understood by “civilians.”

An “order of magnitude” means a 10x difference. One inch to 10 inches is an order of magnitude, 10 miles per hour to 100 miles per hour, six minutes versus an hour.

If your daily commute changed by an order of magnitude, your life would change, because you’d think nothing of going home for a quick dinner with your family and then putting your kids to bed or popping back over to the office if you left something important on your desk.

In a business context, an order of magnitude can be just as revolutionary. Your data system can weather sudden market changes or boost your ad revenue to unexpected heights. If you ignored its potential, you would lose an opportunity to beat your competitors. Therefore, when business leaders hear their engineering staff talk about “an order of magnitude,” Brian thinks, they should listen very closely.

In his article, Brian also gives a specific example about one of Aerospike’s customers, AppLovin. In 2014, they came across an opportunity to lower latency and hardware cost by an order of magnitude. Read his article to find out how AppLovin capitalized on the opportunity and what it meant for their business.

Brian’s complete article was previously published on Medium.

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Brian Bulkowski, Aerospike Founder and CTO

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Brian is a Founder and the CTO of Aerospike. With almost 30 years in Silicon Valley, his motivation for starting Aerospike was the confluence of what he saw as the rapidly advancing flash storage technology with lower costs that weren’t being fully leveraged by database systems as well as the scaling limitations of sharded MySQL systems and the need for a new distributed database. He was able to see these needs as both a Lead Engineer at Novell and Chief Architect at Cable Solutions at Liberate - where he built a high-performance, embedded networking stack and high scale broadcast server infrastructure.