Velocity 2013 Day 2 Liveblog – The Keynotes

Had some tasty Afghan food last night and turned in reasonably early to prepare for the deluge today!

So, the keynotes. Steve Souders & John Allspaw kick us off as the MCs. It’s streamed live so  you should be able to watch it (this will let you know what parts to skip… Hint, everything but the Swede.)

The wireless is completely borked.  I’m having to come back to my hotel room over lunch to upload this.  Boo.

Allspaw is rocking a New York shirt.  “New York!” Very light applause, lol.  There’s now a NYC Velocity, London, and China.  Maybe it’s my own MC style talking but there’s not near enough ass jokes.

Allspaw is the philosopher of the group. First night we were here, Gene Kim and I were talking with Marcus from Etsy about him.  Gene: “He’s a philosopher!  He’s a warrior poet!”  Me: “Yep, he sure Yodas that shit up!” Drinks were involved.

Go to and vote for your favorite books and stuff!

They also want speaker feedback, give 5 and get a signed O’Reilly book at 6 tonight! Ok, you asked for it…

What, Where And When Is Risk In System Design?

In what turned out to be the best part of all the keynotes, Johan Bergstrom fromn Lund U in Sweden spoke about risk in system design (when will Amazon go down again).

Is risk from unreliable components or from complexity?  Traditional risk evaluation is about determining the likelihood of every single failure event and its impact.

It’s reliable when all the parts work according to the rules; reductionist.

The most unreliable component is the human actor – that’s what gets blamed by AWS etc for outages.Exampleof monetizing tech debt/risk with incremental risk of outage * cost of outage.

So what do we do to mitigate this risk?  Redundant barriers, the defense in depth or “layers of Swiss cheese.”

Or reduce variability by removing humans from the mix. Process and automation.

But what if risk is a product of non-linear interactions and relations (complexity)?

An ecosystem model, hard to completely characterize and barriers may increase interactions.

So risk as a path dependent process and as a control problem.

Path dependency – software is so complex now no one can fully understand, evaluate, or test it.

Technical debt vs normalization of deviance

Control problem.  Have boundaries of unacceptable functionalityrisk, workload, and finances/efficiency. You can only know when you’ve crossed the risk boundary when you’ve passed it.  The other boundaries provide pressure to a least effort/most efficient solution.

risk and safety are both products of performance variability.

So to manage risk in this sense,

Keep talking about risk even when things look safe

  • Invite minority opinion and doubt
  • debate boundaries
  • monitor gap between work as prescribedand performed
  • Focus on how people make the tradeoffs guaranteeing safety

Hollnagel – Safety management is not about avoiding – it is about achieving

Which is it? We ask the wrong question ha ha!

Risk is a game played between values and frames of reference.

Make your values explicit.

slides at


Vik Chaudhary from Keynote for his annual sales pitch

I like Keynote and we’re a Keynote customer, but I like Keynote a little less every time I have to sit through this crap.


Alois Reitbauer on Compuware APM. “We do mobile now!” Another sales pitch.


 Obama for America

Kyle Rush on the Obama for America site (dir of tech, new yorker)

Started with small simple site, load balancer to 7 web notes and 2 payment nodes.

Added a reverse proxied payment API

Then went to Jekyll Ruby CMS and github for version control, static in S3

Added Akamai as a CDN, did other front end perf engineering

Much faster and lighter for A/B testing and faster page had 14% higher conversion rate ($32M)

GTM failover to 2 regions under route 53 round robin

1101 front end deploys, 4k lines js, 240 a/b tests


Lightning demos!

Guy (@guypod)  from Akamai on Akamai IO, the Internet Observatory, check out Web-wide stats. Basically their massive Web logs as data graphs.


@ManishLachwani from Appurify on their mobile continuous integration and testing platform

Runtime HTML5 and native debugger for mobile.

100k SDK will be free.


@dougsillars from AT&T on Application Resource Optimizer (

See data flow from app, suggest improvements

Takes pcap traces from mobile, grades against best practices

Nice, like ACE+YSlow for mobile.


 Making the Web Faster

Arvind Jain from Google on making the Web faster.

Peak connection speeds have tripled in 5 years

Latency going down, cable 26 ms avg

js speed improvements

But, pages are getting fatter – 1.5 MB average!!!

Net YOY is desktop 5% faster, mobile 30%.

devs will keep adding in till they hit about 3s

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