A quick recap of Velocity SC 2016

Posted by on July 12, 2016 9:43pm
One of my favorite events in the tech industry is the O’Reilly-organized Velocity Conference in Santa Clara. Covering all things Web Perf and DevOps, Velocity is definitely a must-attend event for all serious web performance professionals.27768617751_13f707570d_z.jpg It was great to be there with the Nouvola team, we were really excited to have a booth and to showcase our newest technology, client performance testing. With client performance testing, one has the ability to test real browser experiences and gather browser performance metrics on a global scale, as well as emulate different network conditions.  Our client performance testing offering is a great complement to our best-of-breed mobile, web and API performance testing, and we are extremely excited about the incredibly positive feedback we received.

Themes for Velocity this year

There was plenty of content about familiar topics like backend performance, front end optimization, toolsets etc. In addition, some key themes emerged for Velocity this year that are well aligned with some of latest trends in the industry at large.
27232661663_d4cd25a033_z.jpgAds are definitely a problem for the digital industry in general. Bruce Lawson, Deputy CTO at Opera, gave a fantastic keynote, Making bad ads sad. Rad! Lawson started with covering how TV ads have always been highly regulated, whereas web ads have not. Web ads also represent a security risk — ads can be compromised, and so can the webpage. On the performance side, ads are simply a performance disaster. For the top 50 media sites in the US, the average web page is only 9% ads, but those ads account for 54% of the load time. Typical reasons are multiple http requests, many redirects, and bloated javascript code. And this translates into $$. So here come ad blockers. Ad blockers are nothing more than digital self-defense against ads. With ad blockers, one gets 13.7% more data even in congested network conditions, and can also see great advantages for battery life and memory consumption. All of this doesn’t come for free. Some people pay — namely, the ones who have the websites where the ads get blocked. Lawson concluded with a call to action to the industry to solve this problem, by  introducing some level of regulations on ads and making better and more effective ads.
Velocity tends to attract Dev types as well as Ops types, so the typical question is around how Ops can get along well with Dev and vice versa, and how to create the right culture. I loved the talk from Bridget Kromhout, Containers won’t fix your broken culture. Bridget opened by mentioning a typical cliché for the industry today, ‘Cloudy with a chance of DevOps‘. She talked about the fact that you don’t get DevOps in a box and, you won’t get it in a shipping container either. The right tools and the right automation are necessary, but not sufficient. It’s all about the people, setting up the right incentives (features vs. SLA anyone?), the right handoff mechanisms and communication channels. Ultimately, it’s all about culture. There was also a good panel discussion covering the findings in the State of DevOps report. The full report is definitely worth reading.
Business Value of Performance
I was fortunate enough to attend the presentation of Tammy Evert book, Time is Money, whose title greatly summarizes the key messages at Velocity. Examining case study after case study, the book highlights not only a clear business value and ROI for performance, but also a critical aspect of human psychology, which is the need for uninterrupted flow. This is the true driver behind the high sensitivity to timing, especially in certain phases of web transactions.
Women in Tech
Well done, O’Reilly. Women were highly represented as speakers at Velocity, and were also rated as some of the best speakers. My personal favorite was Charity Majors, who covered  one of my favorite tech topics, technical decision making. She highlighted the fact that the stack / SaaS landscape today suffers from too many options and there are few bulletproof best options. She advocated for the choice of boring tech. Boring software runs the world, and its failure modes are well understood. Software is the enemy — resist software sprawl, gate the introduction of new components and reward the ‘janitors’ – those who remove code, deprecate and simplify.   If you missed Velocity, many presentations are available on the O’Reilly site. I always come back from Velocity energized and stoked to be part of the vibrant and inspiring Web performance and DevOps community. Until next year…