ENTRIES TAGGED "infrastructure"

The Rise of Infrastructure as Data

Simplifying IT automation

IT infrastructure should be simpler to automate. A new method of describing IT configurations and policy as data formats can help us get there. To understand this conclusion, it helps to understand how the existing tool chains of automation software came to be.

In the beginnings of IT infrastructure, administrators seeking to avoid redundant typing wrote scripts to help them manage their growing computer hordes. The development of these in­house automation systems were not without cost; each organization built its own redundant tools. As scripting gurus left an organization, these scripts were often very difficult to maintain by new employees.

As we all know by the huge number of books written on the topic, software development sometimes has a large amount of time investment required to do it right. Systems management software is especially complex, due to all the possible variables and corner cases to be managed. These in­house scripting systems often grew to be fragile.

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Tracking Salesforce’s push toward developers

Salesforce's recent investments suggest it's building a developer-centric suite of tools for the cloud.

SalesforceHave you ever seen Salesforce’s “no software” graphic? It’s the word “software” surrounded by a circle with a red line through it. Here’s a picture of the related (and dancing) “no software” mascot.

Now, if you consider yourself a developer, this is a bit threatening, no? Imagine sitting at a Salesforce event in 2008 in Chicago while Salesforce.com’s CEO, Marc Benioff, swiftly works an entire room of business users into an anti-software frenzy. I was there to learn about Force.com, and I’ll summarize the message I understood four years ago as “Not only can companies benefit from Salesforce.com, they also don’t have to hire developers.”

The message resonated with the audience. Salesforce had been using this approach for a decade: Don’t buy software you have to support, maintain, and hire developers to customize. Use our software-as-a-service (SaaS) instead.  The reality behind Salesforce’s trajectory at the time was that it too needed to provide a platform for custom development.

Salesforce’s dilemma: They needed developers

This “no software” message was enough for the vast majority of the small-to-medium-sized business (SMB) market, but to engage with companies at the largest scale, you need APIs and you need to be able to work with developers. At the time, in 2008, Salesforce was making moves toward the developer community. First there was Apex, then there was Force.com.

In 2008, I evaluated Force.com, and while capable, it didn’t strike me as something that would appeal to most developers outside of existing Salesforce customers.  Salesforce was aiming at the corporate developers building software atop competing stacks like Oracle.  While there were several attempts to sell it as such, it wasn’t a stand-alone product or framework.  In my opinion, no developer would assess Force.com and opt to use it as the next development platform.

This 2008 TechCrunch article announcing the arrival of Salesforce’s Developer-as-a-Service (DaaS) platform serves as a reminder of what Salesforce had in mind. They were still moving forward with an anti-software message for the business while continuing to make moves into the developer space. Salesforce built a capable platform. Looking back at Force.com, it felt more like an even more constrained version of Google App Engine. In other words, capable and scalable, but at the time a bit constraining for the general developer population. Don’t get me wrong: Force.com wasn’t a business failure by any measure; they have an impressive client list even today, but what they didn’t achieve was traction and awareness among the developer community. Read more…

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The overhead of insecure infrastructure

The overhead of insecure infrastructure

If we don't demand more secure development infrastructure, we get to do it ourselves.

The news is constantly full of companies and organizations falling victim to exploits. Software developers spend a great deal of our time defending against them. But why should they have to bother at all?

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Jesse Robbins on the state of infrastructure automation

Shifts for sysadmins and a surprising use for Chef.

OpsCode chief community officer Jesse Robbins discusses cloud infrastructure automation and the most surprising use of Chef he's seen so far.

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How the cloud helps Netflix

How the cloud helps Netflix

Netflix's Adrian Cockcroft on the benefits of a cloud infrastructure.

Netflix moved some of its services into Amazon's cloud last year. In this interview, Netflix cloud architect Adrian Cockcroft says the move was about building a scalable product and paying down technical debt.

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John Adams on Fixing Twitter: Improving the Performance and Scalability of the World’s Most Popular Micro-blogging Site

Twitter is suffering outages today as they fend off a Denial of Service attack, and so I thought it would be helpful to post John Adams’ exceptional Velocity session about Operations at Twitter. Good luck today John & team… I know it’s going to be a long day! Update: Apparently Facebook & Livejournal have had similar attacks today. Rich Miller…

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Amazon improves EC2 (by embracing failure)

Amazon just announced two big improvements to EC2: Multiple LocationsAmazon EC2 now provides the ability to place instances in multiple locations. Amazon EC2 locations are composed of regions and Availability Zones. Regions are geographically dispersed and will be in separate geographic areas or countries. Currently, Amazon EC2 exposes only a single region. Availability Zones are distinct locations that are engineered…

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Steve Souders asks: “How green is your web page?”

Steve Souders, my Velocity conference Co-Chair and author of High Performance Websites, gave me permission to repost this great analysis: How green is your web page? Writing faster web pages is great for your users, which in turn is great for you and your company. But it’s better for everyone else on the planet, too. Intrigued by an article on…

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Failure Happens: A summary of the power outage at 365 Main

Datacenter provider 365 Main released their initial report from Tuesday's power failure which affected Craigslist, Technorati, Yelp, TypePad, LiveJournal, Vox, and others. This outage is an excellent example of complex systems failure, and so I'll be using it as the basis for my next few posts on Operations. This is my own analysis using publicly available data. The 365main site…

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