Build & maintain complex distributed systems
17–18 October 2017: Training
18–20 October 2017: Tutorials & Conference
London, UK

Quantifying scalability with the Universal Scalability Law

Baron Schwartz (VividCortex)
13:1513:55 Thursday, 19 October 2017
Distributed Data and Databases, Networking, Traffic, and Edge Management
Location: Blenheim Room - Palace Suite Level: Intermediate
Average rating: ****.
(4.90, 10 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Engineers, DBAs, and architects

Prerequisite knowledge

  • A basic understanding of applications and systems

What you'll learn

  • Learn how to use the Universal Scalability Law to think clearly about system scalability and make systems more scalable


You’ve probably heard a lot of people talk about “linearly scalable” systems, but what does that mean? It turns out it’s an equation of throughput under load: the Universal Scalability Law. All engineers, architects, and operators should be familiar with this simple and fundamental concept. When you understand how to model systems by measuring their behavior, you can do amazing things, such as determine how close to linear they are; understand the two causes of sublinearity and measure which dominates; understand what types of things you can improve about them; forecast beyond what you can measure (capacity planning); and avoid building bottlenecks in your systems at all.

Baron Schwartz explains how to use the Universal Scalability Law to characterize how your systems truly behave, why they don’t scale like they should, and how to improve them. You’ll see why systems degrade under load and learn how to apply the lessons the USL teaches—all without even doing math (although you can if you want to). This intuitive concept will forever change the way you think about systems. And as a bonus, once you see it, you’ll never be able to unsee it, so you’ll find yourself using it constantly in all kinds of situations.

Photo of Baron Schwartz

Baron Schwartz


Baron Schwartz is the founder and CEO of VividCortex, the best way to see what your production database servers are doing. Baron has written a lot of open source software and several books, including High Performance MySQL. He’s focused his career on learning and teaching about performance and observability of systems generally, including the view that teams are systems and culture influences their performance, and databases specifically.

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Baron Schwartz | CEO
20/10/2017 10:35 BST

I’m going to upload slides here later, but for right now here’s a link: