So what makes a good piece of software? Where should you do your most UI tuning? How big of a server do you need? How much traffic can your application handle? Well the best answer to all of these lies with the 80/20 rule.

OK so it’s not a technical rule like “controllers should have a plural name”. But it is a good rule of thumb. There are many variations. The first time I herd it was back when I was studying for my CCNA. It was presented to me as “You will use 20% of your knowledge 80% of the time”. It holds true. Most of the time everything is a nice standard flow, and everything is going great. Its that other 20% that really causes a problem.

Let me give some examples. What makes a good piece of software? 80% of the time end users should be using 20% of your software, but the other 20% of the time, users need to be able to function as well. Where should you do your most UI tuning? 80% of your user base should be able to access the same 20% of your functoriality, without having to look for it (think of a dashboard). How big of a server do I need? 80% of the time your server should be operating at 20% capacity, 20% of the time it should be at 80% capacity.

The 80/20 rule is a great rule of thumb for doing a quick analysis of your current status on things. Lets look at the server example. If you take a look at your server stats for the last month, and 99% of the time your sitting at 0.5% capacity, the other 1% you jumped all the way up to 10%. You probably bought/leased/acquired to large a server. Time to do a full analysis to determine how you can better utilize your hardware. At the same time, if 60% of the time your running at 40% capacity, and the other 40% your running at 100% capacity, you have no room to expand. Time to price out some new equipment/optimize your utilization.

In all cases the 80/20 rule is just a measure used to determine that something else needs to be looked at. No one should use it for actual metrics. But it is an easy figure to match in your head.

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