Sponsored Post: Okta, EzRez, VoltDB, Digg, Cloud Sigma, Applications Manager, Site24x7

Who's Hiring?

Cool Products and Services

  • Cloud Sigma. Instantly scalable European cloud servers. 
  • ManageEngine Applications Manager.  ManageEngine provides Enterprise IT Management suite of products. 
  • Site24x7Easy, fast and effective web server monitoring, server monitoring and website monitoring service.

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4 New Podcasts for Scalable Summertime Reading

It's trendy today to say "I don't read blogs anymore, I just let the random chance of my social network guide me to new and interesting content." #fail. While someone says this I imagine them flicking their hair back in a "I can't be bothered with true understanding" disdain. And where does random chance get its content? From people like these. So: support your local blog!

If you would like to be a part of random chance, here are a few new podcasts/blogs/vidcasts that you may not know about and that I've found interesting:

  • DevOps Cafe. With this new video series where John and Damon visit high performing companies and record an insider's tour of the tools and processes those companies are using to solve their DevOps problems, DevOps is a profession that finally seems to be realizing their own value. In the first episode John Paul Ramirez takes the crew on a tour of Shopzilla's application lifecycle metrics and dashboard. The second episode feature John Allspaw, VP of Technical Operations at Etsy, talking about the new role of DevOps in companies. Only more good stuff from there.
  • Packet Pushers. A great podcast by real experts on seriously technical networking issues. They describe their podcast as: a podcast where we talk about routing, switching, security, firewalls, study and market changes. Some topics  covered: “Defense in Depth” and what it really means; Deep Diving on Data Centre Switching; Chewing on DDOS; Enterprise MPLS; Career Progression.
  • Click to read more ...


How can we spark the movement of research out of the Ivory Tower and into production?

Over the years I've read a lot of research papers looking for better ways of doing things. Sometimes I find ideas I can use, but more often than not I come up empty. The problem is there are very few good papers. And by good I mean: can a reasonably intelligent person read a paper and turn it into something useful? 

Now, clearly I'm not an academic and clearly I'm no genius, I'm just an everyday programmer searching for leverage, and as a common specimen of the species I've often thought how much better our industry would be if we could simply move research from academia into production with some sort of self-conscious professionalism. Currently the process is horribly hit or miss. And this problem extends equally to companies with research divisions that often do very little to help front-line developers succeed. 

How many ideas break out of academia into industry in computer science? We have many brilliant examples: encryption, microprocessors, compression, transactions, distributed file systems, vector clocks, gossip protocols, MapReduce, search, algorithms, networking, communication, and on ad infinitum. For every Google that breaks out there must be thousands of other potential ideas that go nowhere, even in this hyper-VC aware age. 

We need to do is a better job of using the research. There's a lot out there in the literature that we could be making use of right now, but it's closed off from the people, i.e., developers, who can turn this research into gold. And it's largely closed off because researchers don't consider developers as an audience and they don't write their papers with the intention of being applied. Change the publication process and we can save the cheerleader and save the world.

I'm bringing this up now because:

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Strategy: Consider When a Service Starts Billing in Your Algorithm Cost

At Monday's Cloud Computing Meetup, Paco Nathan gave an excellent Getting Started on Hadoop talk (slides). I found one of Paco's strategies particularly interesting: consider when a service starts charging in cost calculations. Depending on your use case it may be cheaper to go with a more expensive service that charges only for work accomplished rather than charging for both work + startup time.

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Sponsored Post: ezRez, VoltDB and Digg are Hiring


Hot Scalability Links for July 17, 2010

And by hot I also mean temperature. Summer has arrived. It's sizzling here in Silicon Valley. Thank you air conditioning!

  • Scale the web by appointing a Crawler Czar? Tom Foremski has the idea that Google should open up their index so sites wouldn't have to endure the constant pounding by ravenous crawler bots. Don MacAskill of SmugMug estimates 50% of our web server CPU resources are spent serving crawlers. What a waste. How this would all work with real-time feeds, paid  feeds (Twitter, movies, ...), etc. is unknown, but does it make sense for all that money to be spent on extracting the same data over and over again?
  • Tweets of Gold:
    • jamesurquhart: Key to applications is architecture. Key for infrastructure supporting archs is configurability. Configurability==features.
    • tjake:  People who choose their datastore based oh hearsay and not their own evaluation are doomed.
    • b6n: No global lock ever goes unpunished
    • MichaelSurtees: scalability, systems & process feed each other right?
    • jamesgolick: Statements like: "NoSQL database systems are designed for scalability." make me sad.
    • agastiya: Focus on stability and features first, scalability and manageability second, per-unit performance last of all. This is a quote from Jeff Darcy

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DynaTrace's Top 10 Performance Problems taken from Zappos, Monster, Thomson and Co

DynaTrace in Top 10 Performance Problems taken from Zappos, Monster, Thomson and Co, has provided a useful compilation of performance problems, with potential solutions, that they've found while working with their clients. 

  1. Too Many Database Calls -  too many database query per request/transaction.
  2. Synchronized to Death - in a high-load or production environment over-synchronization results in severe performance and scalability problems.
  3. Too chatty on the remoting channels - too many calls across these remoting boundaries and in the end causes performance and scalability problems.
  4. Wrong usage of O/R-Mappers - incorrect usage of the framework itself too often results in unexpected performance and scalability problems within these frameworks.
  5. Memory Leaks - GC does not prevent memory leaks, it is important to release object references as soon as they are no longer needed.

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Sponsored Post: VoltDB and Digg are Hiring

Who's Hiring?

VoltDB Field/Community Engineer

VoltDB is attracting more and more users every day. If you have a strong technical background in SQL and Linux, are experienced with production database deployments, and have a passion for customers and community, you could be just the person we are looking for.  Are you excited about the prospect of working with users to develop and deploy VoltDB applications, and about helping users participate in the thriving VoltDB community? If so, read on at their job page.

Get Your High Scalability Fix at Digg 

Interested in working on cutting-edge high-scale infrastructure at Digg? We're making a big investment in scaling and have committed to the NoSQL (Not only SQL) path with Cassandra. We're using other open-source infrastructure to help us scale including Hadoop, RabbitMQ, Zookeeper, Thrift, HDFS and Lucene. We're rewriting Digg from the ground up and we need amazing developers to join our world-class team. If you think you are up for the challenge, or you know someone who might be, take a look at our jobs page for more information.


DbShards Part Deux - The Internals

This is a follow up article by Cory Isaacson to the first article on DbShards, Product: dbShards - Share Nothing. Shard Everything, describing some of the details about how DbShards works on the inside.

The dbShards architecture is a true “shared nothing” implementation of Database Sharding. The high-level view of dbShards is shown here:

The above diagram shows how dbShards works for achieving massive database scalability across multiple database servers, using native DBMS engines and our dbShards components. The important components are:

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Creating Scalable Digital Libraries

Like many other media content providers, libraries and museums are increasingly moving their content onto the Web.  While the move itself is no easy process (with digitization, web development, and training costs), being able to successfully deliver content to a wide audience is an ongoing concern, particularly for large libraries.

Much of the concern is financial, as most libraries do not have the internal budget or outside investors that for-profit businesses enjoy.  Even large university libraries will face serious budget constraints that even other university departments, such as science and technology would not face.

Creating a scalable infrastructure and also distributing a large digital collection that can handle multiple requests, requires planning that many librarians have not even imagined.  They must stop thinking in terms of "one-item-per-customer" and start thinking in terms of numerous users accessing the same information simultaneously.

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