I was recently browsing around the support forums of World of Warcraft and found this nugget posted by a “Customer Service Forum Representative”:
Complex systems are prone to issues – and make no mistake, World of Warcraft is an incredibly complex and ever-changing system – some downtime is to be expected
This myth is constantly thrown around as fact, even within engineering circles. Personally, I don’t expect any downtime, regardless of a system’s complexity. My digital television is fairly complex and sending hundreds of digital channels through a small wire is probably more complex, but if it stops working for even a couple minutes I’d consider it broken — and I certainly don’t buy it expecting some downtime.
What this poster (and others) probably should be saying is “we decided to design a system with some downtime to save time and money”. Continuing the myth that complex systems must be inherently flawed is destructive to the industry. People believe what they hear.
Designing a complex system to be robust is difficult, but not impossible. I just wish more people would realize this.