Joe Duffy’s written an interesting piece on systems performance and managerial culture. Some points I’d like to highlight:
I’ve heard the “performance isn’t a top priority for us” statement many times only to later be canceled out by a painful realization that without it the product won’t succeed.
Engineers can and must make a difference, of course, but if the person at the top and everybody in between aren’t deeply involved, budgeting for the necessary time, and rewarding the work and the superstars, the right culture won’t take hold.
From the article, I’d say the three most important components, besides the culture itself, are:
Management must be deeply involved, motivating engineers and balancing feature deliveries and performance improvements.
Engineers must face performance in a scientific manner. This means: learn some basic statistics and define key performance indicators. Without this knowledge, engineers’ll not understand what they’re measuring.
There must be engineering systems to measure performance and keep track of goals. Performance tests must run automatically and in controlled environments, such as a dedicated server.