Velocity 2010: Day 2 Keynotes

The Huddled Masses

Day 2 of Velocity 2010 starts off with a bang!  It’s Day 1 for a lot of people; Day 1 is optional workshops.  Anyway, Steve Souders (repping performance) and Jesse Robbins (repping ops) took the stage and told us that there are more than 1000 people at the show this year, more than both previous years combined!  And sure enough, we’re stuffed past capacity into the ballroom and they have satellite rooms set up; the show is sold out and there’s a long waiting list.  The fire marshal is thrilled.  Peco and I are long term Velocity alumni and have been to it every year – you can check out all the blog writeups from Velocity 2008 and 2009!  As always, my comments are in italics.

Jesse stripped down to show us the Velocity T-shirt, with the “fast by default” tagline on it.  I think we should get Ops representation on there too, and propose “easy by design.”   “fast by default/easy by design.”  Who’s with me?

Note that all these keynotes are being Webcast live and on demand so you can follow along!

Datacenter Revolution

The first speaker is James Hamilton of AWS on Datacenter Infrastructure Innovation.  There’s been a big surge in datacenter innovation, driven by the huge cloud providers (AWS, Google, Microsoft, Baidu, Yahoo!), green initiatives, etc. A fundamental change in the networking world is coming, and he’s going to talk about it.

Cloud computing will be affecting the picture fundamentally; driving DC stuff to the big guys and therefore driving professionalization and innovation.

Where does the money go in high scale infrastructure?  54% servers, 21% power distribution/cooling, 13% power, 8% networking, 5% other infrastructure.  Power stuff is basically 34% of the total and trending up.  Also, networking is high at 8% (19% of your total server cost).

So should you virtualize and crush it onto fewer servers and turn the others off?  You’re paying 87% for jack crap at this point.  Or should you find some kind of workload that pays more than the fractional cost of power?  Yes.  Hence, Amazon spot instances. The closer you can get to a flat workload, the better it is for you, everyone, and the environment.

Also, keeping your utilization up is critical to making $ return.

In North America, 11% of all power is lost in distribution.  Each step is 1-2% inefficient (substation, transformer, UPS, to rack) and it all adds up.  And that’s not counting the actual server power supply (80% efficient) and on board voltage regulators (80% efficient though you can buy 95% efficient ones for a couple extra dollars).

Game consoles are more efficient computing resources than many data centers – they’ve solved the problem of operating in hot and suboptimal conditions.  There’s also potential for using more efficient cooling than traditional HVAC – like, you know, “open a window”.

Sea Change in Net Gear!  Network gear is oversubscribed.  ASIC vendors are becoming more competitive and innovating more – and Moore’s Law is starting to kick in there (as opposed to the ‘slow ass law’ that’s ruled for a while). Networking gear is one of the major hindrances to agility right now – you need to be able to put servers wherever you want in the datacenter, and that’s coming.

Speed Matters

The second keynote is Urs Hölzle from Google on “Speed Matters.”

Google, as they know and see all, know that the average load time of a Web page is 4.9 seconds, average size 320 kb.  Average user bandwidth is 1.8 MB.  math says that load should be 1.4 seconds – so what up?

Well, shows you – it’s not raw data transfer, it’s page composition and render.  Besides being 320 kB, it has 44 resources, makes 7 DNS resources, and doesn’t compress 1/3 of its content.

Google wants to make the Web faster.  First, the browser – Chrome!  It’s speed 20 vs Firefox at 10 vs IE8 at like 2.  They’re doing it as open source to spur innovation and competition (HTML5,  DNS prefectch, VP8 codec, V8 JS engine).  So “here’s some nice open source you could adopt to make it better for your users, and if you don’t, here’s a reference browser using it that will beat your pants off.  Enjoy!”

TCP needs improvements too.  It was built for slow networks and nuke-level resiliency, not speed.  They have a tuning paper that shows some benefits – fast start, quick loss recovery makes Google stuff 12% faster (on real sites!).  And no handshake delay (app payload in SYN packets).

DNS needs to propagate the client IP in DNS requests to allow servers to better map to closest servers – when DNS requests go up the chain that info is lost.  Of course it’s a little Big Brother, too.

SSL is slow.  False start (reducing 1 roudn trip from the handshake) makes Android 10% faster.  Snap start and OCSP stapling are proposed improvements to avoid round trips to the client and CA.

HTTP itself, they promote SPDY.  Does header compression and other stuff, reduces packets by 40%.  It’s the round trips that kill you.

DNS needs to be faster too.  Enter Google’s Public DNS.  It’s not really that much data, so for them to load it into memory is no big deal.

And 1 Gbps broadband to everyone’s home!  Who’s with me?  100x improvement!

This is a good alignment of interests.  Everyone wants the Web to be faster then they use it, and obviously Google and others want it to be faster so you can consume their stuff/read their ads/give them your data faster and faster.

They are hosting for popular cross-Web files like jQuery, fonts, etc.  This improves caching on the client and frees up your servers.

For devs, they are trying to make tools for you.  Page Speed, Closure Compiler, Speed Tracer, Auto Spriter, Browserscope, Site Performance data.

“Speed is product feature #1.”  Sped affects search ranking now.  Go to and get your speed on!  Google can’t do it alone…  And slow performance is reducing your revenue (they have studies on that).

Are You Experienced?

Keynote 3 is From Browsers to Mobile Devices: The End User Experience Still Mattersby Vik Chaudhary (Keynote Systems, Inc.).  As usual, this is a Keynote product pitch.  I guess you have to pay the piper for that sponsorship. Anyway, they’re announcing a new version of MITE, their mobile version of KITE, the Keynote Internet Testing Environment.

Mobile!  It’s big!  Shakira says so! Mee mee mee mee!

Use MITE to do mobile testing; it’ll test and feed it into the MyKeynote portal.  You can see performance and availability for a site on  iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Pre, etc.  You can see waterfalls and screenshots!  That is, if you pay a bunch extra, at least that’s what we learned from our time as a Keynote customer…

MITE is pretty sexy though.  You can record a transaction on an emulated iPhone.  And analyze it.  Maybe I’m biased because I already know all this, and because we moved off Keynote to Gomez despite their frankly higher prices because their service and technology were better.  KITE was clever but always seemed to be more of a freebie lure-them-in gimmick than a usable part of a real Keynote customer’s work.

Now it’s break time!  I’ll be back with more coverage from Velocity 2010 in a bit!

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