Web operations is not for the casual observer: it’s a particular kind of adrenaline junkie that’s motivated by graphs and servers spinning out of control. Jumping in, on-your-feet analysis, and experience-based-experimentation are all part of solving new problems caused by unexpected user and machine behavior, and keeping a clear head when service owners and executives are panicking is part of the job.
A core part of web operations leadership is spike management – what do you when you see a significantly larger amount of load than you’ve had before. Sometimes this is predictable months out (Amazon knows, for example, that the first or second Monday of December will be their biggest day each year), sometimes days out (Twitter knew Oprah was coming), and sometimes not at all (what we still call the Slashdot Effect). Every web ops professional deals with some kind of spike – even intranets manage paydays and employee review days – and if you’re into it, well, spikes can be fun. Of course, maybe you use EC2 Auto-Scaling, and so (in theory) don’t have to worry about it, although of course bottlenecks come in many forms.
So at Velocity this year, we’re trying out something new: Spike Night.
Spike Night is a chance to see and learn about how real, high-traffic websites deal with massive increases in load, either expected or unexpected. We’ll see real-world management of traffic increases – graphs, tools, the whole shebang.
We called up lots of people on the phone and said “can we throw massive load at your website so you can stand on stage and brag about it,” many web ops folks were excited, but then they start worrying about little things like “what if something goes wrong and everyone blogs about it” or “do I have to ask somebody in a PR department” and then calls went unreturned.
Fortunately, two parties have stepped up, and we can’t wait to see what they have to show:
Spike Night is meant to be a fun event, taking place Tuesday night of Velocity, and open to the larger web community – a Velocity pass is not required to attend. We’re looking forward to hosting interesting demos and a fun Q&A, and hope to see all of you there!
Scott Ruthfield is founder of Rooster Park Consulting, a Seattle-based engineering leadership and custom software development consultancy, and is the acting VP of Engineering at Virtuoso, the industry’s leading leisure travel network. He was the previous VP of Engineering at WhitePages.com, and ran various technology + business teams at Amazon.com. He very occasionally blogs at scottru.com.
Chris is the Chief Software Architect at MySpace.com. In other words, he comes up with overly convoluted ‘design patterns’ in order to lengthen the development process.
VP of Operations at Joyent. Former MLB.com devops graybeard. Yankees fan. Cat herder.
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