Web Performance Evangelism Run Amok

I wanted to point you to an evangelist of the good kind that Scoble found — "Obi-Wan", the Prowler Knight. They come in all shapes and sizes.

One of the directors in our company keeps saying how impressed he was by a certain product evangelist he saw at a conference a few years ago. He sings high praises about my potential to do the same. I know I can — spent the last five years delving into the how-tos of Web performance, and have a bit of an opinionated streak to help me along.

Today, I am going to evangelize on Web performance.

The issue is that everyone has specific questions and nobody wants to think about the actual big picture. The biggest question an online has to ask is: "How do we make it fast, reliable, scalable, efficient and economic?"

Easy, right? Well, no actually. Big players in the online commerce world still have problems with this. Why? Why can’t they get it right?

Over the last few days, I have posted a couple of screenshots showing that Amazon, the online retailing poster child, has had 3 distinct and length outages. This is unheard of from them. However, they should be in seasonal lockdown at the moment. So I looked at some data I have access to last night. I know when the problem started, but don’t know the root cause. It is frightening that in the span of a single day, the internet leader is in the uncomfortable position of scrambling to decipher and resolve their problem during the busiest time of the year.

This doesn’t surprise me anymore. I just shrug my shoulders and say, loudly, for the umpteenth time that if someone had asked the right questions, followed the correct process, and accurately analyzed the data none of this would be happening.

I have said it before: I have tried. Look at a retailer like Amazon, and you must also look at Target — Target is completely wedded to the Amazon Infrastructure. Was Target part of the analysis of the data so that they could approve the system state freeze? The answer is likely no, and you know what? Target is likely going to collect a ton of paybacks from SLA infringements as a result of the Amazon outages.

At the beginning, I asked what does it take to achieve Web performance excellence. The answer is time and dedication. Online businesses have to either dedicate themselves to this, or sign on to partners who can.

Some big firms think that the traditional IT consulting firms can do it. What is their expertise in Web performance? How do they plan to validate and verify that the improvement plan they have outlined is actually meeting your business objectives? How will they help you manage your content, customer-tracking and ad providers?

Big IT consulting firms: Can you validate and verify that the performance improvements that you have implemented are economical? Are they efficiently resolving the issue? Who resolves problems?

How many consultant, engineers, developers and business managers does it take to fix a bad Web page?

Answer: I don’t know. Do you?

In the end, Web performance is no longer about response times and success rates. It is no longer about usability. It is no longer about hit tracking, processor utilization, SANs, and distributed content. We performance boils down to a single question:

"How do we make it fast, reliable, scalable, efficient and economic?"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *