For the biggest names in the Internet, application deployment speed is critical

The rapid growth of cloud services is challenging even the biggest names in the Internet to deploy new applications faster. The increasing importance of cloud and web services also means that reliable operations and availability is critical to their success.


For the last 5 years O’Reilly’s Velocity conference has focused on sharing what works and what doesn’t for the largest web presences on the planet.  I was there live blogging for xthestreams and to capture stories for future episodes.


Facebook’s view

Day 1 kicked off with Facebook VP Operations Jay Parikh talking about what it takes to scale to one billion users. He shared the story of how he personally went from a new hire to deploying code into production within a week of having arrived. 


This is a real demonstration of the “move fast and things break spirit”. Thankfully in this case he didn’t’ break anything other than the myth that you can’t run a stable site without onerous change controls. The lesson learned is that you need to rethink automation and culture if you’re going to make it work.


A look at Amazon and Etsy

John Rauser, Principal quantitative engineer at Amazon was up next using his stream-crossing powers. He connected the process of solving the mystery of the London cholera outbreak with how we can use outliers and anomalies in patterns to detect the underlying cause or even early warning of problems in your applications and services. For this to work, you need to analyze the raw data— not rolled up averages that smooth out these important leading risk indicators. 


If you’ve been following HP’s whiterabbit, you’ll know he’s a big believer in the importance of building resilient systems. This theme was echoed by Etsy’s Director of Engineering, Mike Brittain. 


Mike shared practical advice on how to build a resilient user experience by designing composite applications that focus on the core mission of your business. These applications should degrade gracefully rather than fail outright. I’m hoping to get Mike on as a guest to share more.


The most popular Velocity events focused on change and people

However the most popular sessions at Velocity focused on culture and soft skills. These sessions included a great talk by part-time firefighter and full-time automation evangelist Jesse Robbins on some of his favorite culture hacks that have helped him get the people on board as part of organisational change management.


Check out my Twitter stream for some of the highlights from this great talk.


It was also great to see strong technology thought leadership amongst the female contingent with what has been traditionally considered a male dominated world. I had the opportunity to chat with self-professed Linus geek Mandi Walls and O’Reilly’s Suzzane Axtell about the need for more women to be visible in presenting at technology conferences. I’ll be posting a link to the video of that interview on my blog.


As you can probably tell, I like my conferences to have a mix of deep geek with applied humanities, so the itSMF, HP Discover and Velocity all rate highly for me. 


What about you, what are your "must attend" conferences and why?


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About the Author
Paul Muller leads the global IT management evangelist team within the Software business at HP. In this role, Muller heads the team responsib...

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