After the DEFCON conference earlier this year in Las Vegas, I watched David Copperfield’s show at the MGM Grand. I wanted to see him for years (he’s kind of a childhood hero of mine), but never managed to squeeze it into my schedule. This time, however, my return flight was a day later than usual so I used the opportunity to finally see the legend with my own eyes. What a wonderful, impressive show that was!
When Site Reliability Engineers architect systems they often use a method called Non-Abstract Large System Design (NALSD).
NALSD describes an iterative process for designing, assessing, and evaluating distributed systems. During the process it comes in handy to know some numbers about typical computing and data transferring tasks, such as locking a mutex or reading data from an SSD.
Jeff Dean even went so far to declare that everyone should know at least the most important numbers:
The Internet is notoriously hungry for bandwidth and much effort goes into increasing the throughput of Internet Protocol carrying media. One particularly successful approach in throughput optimization has been IP over Avian Carriers which, thanks to pleasant developments in storage media density, managed to stay ahead of the game by a factor of three. However, speeding up existing protocols is not enough to meet increased bandwidth demands. New protocols and unconventional link media have to be considered to keep the lights on and the bytes flowing.
Have you ever read Ibrahim Diallo’s famous, scary, and funny blog post The Machine Fired Me? Ibrahim, working as a software developer, accidentally got fired. Thanks to a fully automated business process his key card, used for physical accessing the facilities, stopped working. Various accounts for all kinds of work-related systems got disabled and he did not receive pay for three weeks. The automation was so powerful, he had to be re-hired to get back into the system.
What an exhausting conference! So many learnings, valuable conversations, and interesting workshops.
Day One: Roundup We all started the conference together, in the large ballroom. I learned from Theo Schlossnagle and Heinrich Hartmann that data ingestion at Circonus never stops and that they had to apply impressive engineering to handle the massive load that billions of time series produce.
Afterwards, Corey Quinn and John Looney entered the stage with their Song of Ice and TireFire.