September 19–20, 2016: Training
September 20–22, 2016: Tutorials & Conference
New York, NY

The once and future layer 5: Resilient, Twitter-style microservices

Oliver Gould (Buoyant)
1:30pm–2:10pm Thursday, 09/22/2016
Infrastructure reimagined Cloud, DevOps Gramercy Audience level: Intermediate
Average rating: ****.
(4.12, 8 ratings)

Prerequisite knowledge

  • A basic knowledge of microservices
  • What you'll learn

  • Explore Twitter's move to microservices—made successful, in part, by its ability to treat layer 5 (the session layer) as a first-class object
  • Learn about existing open source tooling that allows you to apply similar techniques as you transition to microservices
  • Description

    What is required to operate microservices at scale? Beyond containers, schedulers, and frameworks, what is actually required to turn hundreds of services, tens of thousands of machines, and millions of requests per second into a unified, performant application? Oliver Gould explores the evolution of Twitter’s stack from monolith to highly distributed microservices and the surprising glue that held it all together: layer 5 in the OSI model, the oft-overlooked session layer.

    Oliver offers an overview of Finagle, the high-scale RPC library developed at Twitter and adopted by Pinterest, SoundCloud, ING Bank, and other companies, tracing Finagle’s evolution from a simple library into something much more: a unified, global mechanism for operability and control over a highly disaggregated application architecture. Oliver explains how this mechanism provides Twitter with higher-level, service-based semantics around scalability, reliability, and fault tolerance and how the control over layer 5 afforded by Finagle allowed Twitter to solve some of the most surprising and difficult problems with its highly distributed architecture—when the software architecture diagram and the org chart intersected.

    Oliver concludes by introducing linkerd, an open source proxy form of Finagle, which extends Finagle’s operational model to non-JVM or polyglot microservices, and demonstrates how linkerd can be used to “wrap” multiservice applications, independent of application language(s) or infrastructure, to obtain many of the benefits that Finagle provides for Twitter.

    Photo of Oliver Gould

    Oliver Gould


    Oliver Gould is the CTO of Buoyant, where he leads open source development efforts. Previously, he was a staff infrastructure engineer at Twitter, where he was the tech lead of the Observability, Traffic, and Configuration and Coordination teams. Oliver is the creator of linkerd and a core contributor to Finagle, the high-volume RPC library used at Twitter, Pinterest, SoundCloud, and many other companies.