Distributed Ops for Distributed Apps

My proposal for a talk I delivered at Velocity Amsterdam, 2016. Slides are included at the bottom of the page. For the full transcript of the talk, visit https://sudarkoff.blog/p/distributed-ops-for-distributed-apps (paid subscription, free trial available).


In the world of microservices, when things are moving fast and constantly breaking, the accepted wisdom is that teams must own the whole stack and operate their services themselves. But how much stack is “the whole stack”? How do we ensure that operational standards are consistent across the organization? What’s the right balance between consistent standards and the ability to move fast?


Microservices are like mini companies—they are operated by a single team independently of the rest of the organization. Teams often own the whole stack. They make decisions about what programming languages and frameworks to use, what technologies to utilize and how to operate the service.

But what happens when the team moves on to the next project? Or if it’s not sufficiently large to provide adequate on-call support? And won’t owning and being responsible for more of the things lead to less time and energy for product development?

Standardization helps unify and simplify the operations. But it might come at a cost of not being able to deliver a new product feature sooner. It is important to know what to standardize and how. As with software distributed systems, organizations must decide on the right balance between consistency and availability of operations.

This talk will cover:

  • Why standards are important
  • What to standardize and what to not
  • How to achieve a high level of consistency of operations without sacrificing the ability to iterate in new and novel ways

Takeaway for the audience

Attendees will learn how to distribute operations in a consistent and efficient way.

George Sudarkoff

George Sudarkoff is an infrastructure engineering manager at SurveyMonkey. Before embracing the world of operations, he spent a couple of decades doing software development in a wide variety of areas from financial services, semiconductor fab automation, robot control, real-time image processing and networking to virtualization, distributed storage and web development. In his copious spare time, he could be found either rock-climbing or in his wood shop making furniture.

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