Performance Blog

Velocity 2010 Impressions

Posted on: June 24, 2010

Velocity 2010 came to an end today. I attended all 3 days – it was a great conference. I did not attend last year, but the crowds this year must have been at least 3 times that of 2008, when I first presented at Velocity. Here are some of my thoughts on the conference.

Performance

Being a performance person, I am naturally biased towards performance topics. So, I’ll cover this first. All of the performance sessions at the conference can be summed up thus :

The biggest performance issue is the time it takes for the browser to load a web page (aka page load times). Here is technique x and trick y and hack z to help you fix this problem.

I learned a lot about how to optimize css, javascript, http headers etc. But I was still disappointed that there was hardly a whisper about how to optimize the server side. The claim is that of the total response time, the server takes tens or at most 100′s of milliseconds where as the client takes several seconds.  So where do you want to focus your energy on ? I can accept that. But that seems to pre-suppose that all web applications have a scalable architecture and have solved their server-side performance and scalability issues. I find that a little hard to believe.

Operations

As expected, the details of how Facebook, Yahoo and twitter run their operations was of great interest to the audience. With so much media now being served, I was surprised to see only one session on optimizing Video serving and even that was not well attended. There was hardly any talk about optimizing infrastructure. I can’t help wondering why web operations wouldn’t be interested in optimizing their infrastructure costs. After all, we’ve been hearing a lot lately about the cost of power, how data centers are going green, more efficient etc. Aren’t these things applicable to the web world as well (not just enterprise IT) ? Even more surprising, a very small portion of the audience said they were deployed on the cloud.

Neil Gunther and I presented a session  on Hidden Scalability Gotchas in Memcached and Friends.

We had a great audience with some folks squatting on the floor in the front and a standing-room only audience in the back. There was tremendous interest in applying the USL Model to accurate data to quantify scalability. If anyone has additional feedback or comments, I would love to hear them.

Tools

I was blown away by the plethora of tools, a good many of which I had never heard of. Firebug with various add-ons (YSlow, PageSpeed) set the trend on browser-side monitoring and now even commercial vendors have versions of their product (available for free !) to do the same. This is great news for developers. If you haven’t heard of HttpWatch, showslow.com, webpagetest, check them out.DynaTrace announced a free end user response time monitoring tool as well.

Products

One real cool product I came across was Strangeloop – this is an appliance that sits in front of your web server and optimizes the response page. It’s amazing that it can do so much javascript optimization resulting in dramatic reduction in latency. I can’t help wondering why browsers don’t do this ? Surely, Mozilla and Google have enough smart engineers to come up with a an optimized javascript interpreter. It will be interesting to watch.

The usual monitoring vendors were all there – Keynote, Gomez (now part of Compuware), Webmetrics, AppDynamics etc.

Misc.

Tuesday was billed as “Workshop” day. However, there really weren’t any workshops – they were all just regular sessions just longer. I guess it’s hard to do workshops with several hundred people in the room. If Velocity really wants to do workshops, they need to have at least a dozen of them scheduled and they need to be longer.

On the whole, the conference was a great success, with sold out crowds, well attended and delivered sessions and lots of new products. Hope I can make it to Velocity 2011.

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3 Responses to "Velocity 2010 Impressions"

Well, we’re not JUST the usual monitoring vendor. Unlike the other vendors on the floor, we’re all very good at yodeling!

Shanti,

I attended your presentation earlier this year @Velocity 2010. It was easily one of the most interesting and informative of the presentations at the conference.

You mentioned a custom version of memcached that you used during your testing and sampling. Is this modified version available for use, or was it simple a dev version built specifically for your test efforts?

This was a dev version that was hacked together at Sun by Trond Norbye. When I checked with him last he said that he was going to create a separate branch with these changes. You may want to try asking on the memcached list. The more people ask, the better are the chances of getting this out in a public version.

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