The people that talk at Velocity are really smart. I am always humbled by the likes of John Allspaw. He and I see eye to eye on a lot, but he is so much better at explaining to people and showing them how to make the ideas work. I wish I had his charisma when at the podium. I was lucky enough to write a chapter in a book for John this year. He and Velocity co-chairperson Jesse Robbins organized and authored a book titled Web Operations that debuted at the conference. I basically just told and expanded on my Yahoo story. John loves that story for some reason. I was happy to be a part of it. So many smart people in that book.
The IE9 technology preview dropped while we were there. HTML 5, CSS 3 and more in there. One feature where Microsoft is actually ahead of the curve is in a new DOM level measurement feature. Basically they expose statistics via the DOM about the time it takes to do different things in the page. The other browser vendors in attendance (Google and Mozilla) vowed to support the same data. Another big advancement of IE9 is the heavy use of the GPU for rendering the pages. They have a real advantage here. They are the only browser vendor that is now locked to one operating system. IE9 will require Vista or higher. They can really max out the system for faster rendering.
As usual some of the best content was in the hall ways and bar. We hung out with Theo Schlossnagle from OmniTI and talked about Reconnoiter. It is a kind of Cacti/Ganglia/Nagios all in one. I got to see the Six Apart guys again this year. That is becoming an annual thing. I shared our new Gearman assisted proxy with them. They do some similar stuff for TypePad. More on that proxy later this year. I met a guy from CloudTest. It sounds like a really good use of on-demand cloud resources. I am gonna talk with them about some possible testing.
Membase also dropped while we were there. Most of the persistent key/value stores I have used have disappointed me or just been way too complex for our needs. We don't want a memcached replacement. It does its job damn well. I just need a place to store adhoc data for various applications. Membase is promising because the guys that wrote it are core memcached contributors. There is a company behind it, so it is not as inviting as Drizzle. But, the code is on GitHub so it is more open than say MySQL. Time will tell.
If you have not been to Velocity I encourage you to go next year. It is right for all types of people in the web business. Developers can learn about performance in new ways that will change they way they write code. Operations can learn techniques to make their work day much less painful. Everyone will learn how to empower their business to achieve the goals of the business.