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June 29 2010

Creating Cultural Change

At Velocity 2010, John Rauser presented four funny & powerful examples of cultural change, from a campaign at his office to get people to fill the coffee pot after taking the last cup, to an award winning advertising campaign. This talk explains how to "sneak past people's mental filters" and make things happen.

June 03 2010

Velocity Culture: Web Operations, DevOps, etc...

Velocity 2010 is happening on June 22-24 (right around the corner!).  This year we've added third track, Velocity Culture, dedicated to exploring what we've learned about how great teams & organizations work together to succeed at scale. 

Web Operations, or WebOps, is what many of us have been calling these ideas for years.  Recently the term "DevOps" has become a kind of rallying cry that is resonating with many, along with variations on Agile Operations. No matter what you call it, our experiences over the past decade taught us that Culture matters more than any tool or technology in building, adapting, and scaling the web.

Here is a small sample of the upcoming Velocity Culture sessions:

Ops Meta-Metrics: The Currency You Use to Pay For Change
John Allspaw (
Change to production environments can cause a good deal of stress and strain amongst development and operations teams. More and more organizations are seeing benefits from deploying small code changes more frequently, for stability and productivity reasons. But how can you figure out how much change is appropriate for your application or your culture?

A Day in the Life of Facebook Operations
Tom Cook (Facebook)
Facebook’s Technical Operations team has to balance this need for constant availability with a fast-moving and experimental engineering culture. We release code every day. Additionally, we are supporting exponential user growth while still managing an exceptionally high radio of users per employee within engineering and operations.

This talk will go into how Facebook is “run” day-to-day with particular focus on actual tools in use (configuration management systems, monitoring, automation, etc), how we detect anomalies and respond to them, and the processes we use internally for rapidly pushing out changes while still keeping a handle on site stability.

Change Management: A Scientific Classification
Andrew Shafer (Cloudscaling)
Change management is the combination of process and tools by which changes are made to production systems. Approaches range from cowboy style, making changes to the live site, to complex rituals with secret incantations, coming full circle to continuous deployment. This presentation will highlight milestone practices along this spectrum, establishing a matrix for evaluating deployment process.

There is a tremendous amount happing in our space in the coming weeks in addition to the conference itself.  First, the "Web Operations" book which John Allspaw & I edited goes to print on June 15th.  We're really excited about how it came together.  Then, immediately after Velocity is DevOpsDays, which is a great community event that continues the conversation after Velocity (and is free).  Hope to see you all there!

April 14 2010

Web operators are brain surgeons

As humans rely on the Internet for all aspects of our lives, our ability to think increasingly depends on fast, reliable applications. The web is our collective consciousness, which means web operators become the brain surgeons of our distributed nervous system.

Velocity conference 2010Each technology we embrace makes us more and more reliant on the web. Armed with mobile phones, we forget phone numbers. Given personal email, we ditch our friends' postal addresses. With maps on our hips, we ignore the ones in our glovebox.

For much of the Western world, technology, culture, and society are indistinguishable. We're sneaking up on the hive mind, as the ubiquitous computing envisioned by Mark Weiser over 20 years ago becomes a reality. Today's web tells you what's interesting. It learns from your behavior. It shares, connects, and suggests. It's real-time and contextual. These connected systems augment humanity, and we rely on them more and more while realizing that dependency less and less. Twitter isn't a site; it's a message bus for humans.

The singularity is indeed near, and its grey matter is the web.

Now think what that means for those who make the web run smoothly. Take away our peripheral brains, and we're helpless. We'll suddenly be unable to do things we took for granted, much as a stroke victim loses the ability to speak. Take away our web, and we'll be unable to find our way, or translate text, or tap into the wisdom of crowds, or alert others to an emergency.

We're not ready for this. Alvin Toffler once said, "The future always arrives too fast ... and in the wrong order." A slow-down will feel like collective Alzheimers. Web latency will make us sluggish, not only because thoughts travel more slowly, but also because delay makes us less productive. In 1981, IBM proved that as applications speed up, workers become exponentially more productive (pdf).

Web operators are responsible for keeping the grey matter running. As we become more dependent on our collective consciousness, web operators will be much more involved in end-user experience measurement, from application design to real user monitoring. They'll need to upgrade their sniffer skills to include psychology and cognitive modeling. And they'll track new metrics -- like productivity, number of tasks completed per hour, mistakes made, and so on -- along with their lower-level operational metrics.

They'll also be specialists, brought in to diagnose and repair complex problems. They'll have to drill down from high-level issues like poor adoption and high bounce rates into root causes: heavy page load, packet loss, BGP, big data constraints, caching, and so on. Finally, they'll become systems thinkers, understanding how the combination of data center, cloud, network, storage, and client technologies produce a particular end-user experience.

So give your web operator some respect. Forget the central nervous system; it's the century of the distributed nervous system, and web operators are its brain surgeons.

November 24 2009

Velocity 2010: Fast By Default

We're entering our third year of Velocity, the Web Performance & Operations Conference. Velocity 2010 will be June 22-24, 2010 in Santa Clara, CA. It's going to be another incredible year.

Steve Souders & I have set a new theme this year, "Fast by Default".  We want the broader Velocity community & to adopt it as a shared mission & mantra. The reason for this is simple...

Fast isn't a Feature. Fast is a Requirement.

At Velocity earlier this year Marissa Meyer explained why performance mattered so much to Google. Then Eric Schurman (Bing & Velocity Program Committee member) and Jake Brutlag (Google Search) made history with a co-presentation on just how crucial performance is to revenue .

Phil Dixon of Shopzilla explained that a 5 second performance improvement increased their revenue by 7-12 percent while reducing hardware spend by 50%!!!

Fast means Client, Server, Infrastructure, Operations, & Organizations

Getting to Fast isn't just about any one part of the system. Browser & Client performance is crucial, and requires an equally fast server & infrastructure to support it. When load increases, infrastructure must scale quickly or performance suffers. The operational tools and processes for managing software & infrastructure must support rapid changes in a dynamic environment, and be backed by an organization & culture that embraces it.

We're Looking for Speakers - Submit your Proposals Now!

Do you have ideas and experience for improving Web Performance & Operations and making things "Fast by Default"? We want you as a speaker at Velocity 2010.

Submit your Proposals Now! Entires are due no later than January 11th, 2010 at 11:59 PM Pacific.

One more thing...

velocity-olc.pngQuite a few people have asked us to have Velocity conferences more frequently & beyond the SF Bay Area, and so we're going to try something new. On December 8 we'll be running our first ever Velocity Online Conference.

Past Velocity Conference participants get a 50% discount & get a 25% discount off Velocity 2010.

See the full schedule after the jump...

Velocity Online Conference
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
9:00am-12:40pm PT

Introduction to SPDY

Speaker: Mike Belshe

Faster Load Times Through Deferred JavaScript Evaluation

Speaker: Charles Jolley

Making Rails Even Faster by Default

Speaker: Yehuda Katz

Load Balancing & Reverse Proxies with Varnish & More + Q&A

Speaker: Artur Bergman

Browserscope: Profiling the Way to a Better Browser

Speaker: Lindsey Simon

CouchDB from 10,000 ft + Q&A

Speaker: J Chris Anderson

Operations Roundtable

Moderator: Jesse Robbins
Speakers: Artur BergmanAdam JacobJohn Allspaw

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