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Three Key Takeaways from the 2014 Velocity Conference

Last week’s O’Reilly Velocity Conference offered a host of learning tools and inspiration for creating and managing high performance websites and applications. Engineers, developers, Ops specialists, architects, and performance enthusiasts alike gathered at Santa Clara’s Techmart to discuss the ever-escalating “need for speed,” and the latest and greatest in performance solutions.

While we returned home with a variety of positive impressions, new friends and epic swag, our three top takeaways from the conference were:

1. The Rise of APM

The Exhibit Hall was buzzing with a plethora of APM providers and attendees eagerly seeking them out. And is it any big surprise? The past few years have ushered in a huge change in the application ecosystem; we’re now firmly entrenched in the cloud age where application components are deployed across a variety of technology stacks and cloud types rather the physical systems of yesteryear. Similarly, applications must be available for use across a variety of devices without sacrificing performance. With these changes come monumental complications in regards to reliability and overall performance, especially considering increases in web consumption and user standards. We are sure APM will continue to grow in the years ahead.

2. All Hail the End-User

End-user satisfaction is the reason we create high-performance sites. As web performance providers, we must constantly get inside the end-user’s head to determine how to build a better, faster, more reliable site. If we can’t understand the customer, we simply can’t optimize their web experiences and keep ’em coming back for more.

Cheryl Ainoa, Chief of Product Development Ops at Intuit, used her Keynote speech to discuss technology’s powerful influence on the way people live, explaining that customer empathy is crucial not only for surviving, but thriving through mass technology disruptions. She underscored the only way to solve the customer problem is to “observe the customer in their environment,” optimizing sites and applications around their observed needs and desires. As web consumption and user standards continue to increase, digital businesses will not survive without a solid end-user focus. While this is obvious to all of us here in the performance space, it never hurts to reiterate the end-user’s significance.

3.  Fostering a Collaborative, DevOps Mentality

DevOps is defined on Wikipedia as “a software development method that stresses communication, collaboration and integration between software developers and information technology (IT) operations professionals.” In a nutshell, DevOps is all about collaboration – the kind of collaboration that results in improved products and ultimately greater end-user experiences.

DevOps has become code for a new kind of office culture – a culture that helps employees be more productive, encourages them to work regularly alongside their colleagues, and inspires them to truly enjoy their work.

We all know that focused collaboration often results in a better product, but how can we foster a collaborative culture in our highly segmented, corporate environments? Dustin Whittle, Developer Evangelist at AppDynamics and Velocity speaker, stressed that “you can’t buy culture; cultivate the people and they will cultivate your organization.” Invest in tools that will not only help your team perform their jobs better, but actually promote collaboration. Invest in activities which bring people together and encourage cross-functional dialogue. A DevOps culture takes some ongoing investment, but the payoff can be extraordinary.


See you next year at Velocity, 2015!

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