Presentation: Using Quality Views to Tackle Tech Debt @Tesla



11:50am - 12:40pm

Day of week:



Key Takeaways

  • Understand how quality views can represent software systems holistically and show how they are evolving over time.
  • Learn how to use quality views to improve communication and slash tech debt.
  • Address the risks associated with technical debt not just in the development team, but at an organizational level.


When you work in engineering or operations, you become intimately familiar with the challenges of technical debt. It can be difficult, however, to communicate the full cost to others in the organization, particularly to people who are non-technical. Communicating the risks for software systems that are not directly customer-facing can be especially difficult. For these systems, it can be easy to ignore the technical debt until it becomes crippling.

Colin Breck has been using quality views to highlight technical debt and ensure the risks associated with it are balanced against the product development objectives of the organization. Quality views represent the system holistically, describing where investments are being made and where they are not being made. They highlight risks and demonstrate how the system is evolving over time. He will share his approach, explore examples, and provide some practical advice and observations based on his experience using quality views.

Quality views may help you improve communication in support of tackling technical debt in your organization.


What is the focus of your work today?

I work on streaming-data systems for the near real-time monitoring and control of distributed energy assets. The biggest challenges are related to scalable, reliable, and secure messaging, and large-scale, efficient, historical and real-time time-series data aggregations.

What’s the motivation for your talk?
How do you describe the persona of the target audience of this talk?

I think people in almost any role can benefit from this talk. It is really a talk on improving communication and aligning our mental models, especially among people with different perspectives in the organization.

How would you rate the level of this talk?

The technique I will present is very straightforward. More senior people may appreciate the motivation a bit more, having had more experience with the technical and organizational issues surrounding technical debt. I think it is a talk people from all levels can appreciate.

QCon targets advanced architects and sr development leads, what do you feel will be the actionable that type of persona will walk away from your talk with?

A technique for improving communication and making progress on technical debt, by representing systems holistically, balancing the costs and risks associated with technical debt, so that we can make better decisions as an organization.

What do you feel is the most disruptive tech in IT right now?

The proliferation of streaming-data systems is really exciting. I’ve worked on streaming-data systems for industrial data for nearly two decades. It is great to see these systems now evolving in the open-source community and from cloud-platform vendors. More consensus and consolidation in this space is needed, but I like how these frameworks naturally embrace the semantics and dynamics of streaming-data systems. Sadly, I think platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is perhaps the most disruptive technology in terms of how we build systems, but it is still widely underused. People avoid it because of fears of “vendor lock-in”, or wanting to tinker with their own database, or concerns that it is too expensive. Meanwhile, they don’t have the expertise or economies-of-scale to justify these concerns, and end up wasting time and money on investments that are not core to their business.

Speaker: Colin Breck

Engineer @Tesla

Colin Breck is an engineer, currently working at Tesla, building streaming-data systems for the near real-time monitoring and control of distributed, renewable-energy resources. His interests lie in the performance, reliability, and security of these systems. He has almost two decades of experience in developing publish-subscribe infrastructures and time-series databases for industrial applications. He has worked previously at SolarCity and OSIsoft.

Find Colin Breck at

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