Alright – not exactly a book review, but a heads up. There’s a new book in town, it goes by the name of “Web Operations: Keeping the Data on Time”. It may sound like your typical book about how to build a web service, but it is nothing of the sort.
First let me say that if you have any experience at all with SaaS, Web services or any Internet service type company – you will find some information in this book that you already know. The more experience you have, the more you will probably draw parallels to the stories in this book. If you suck at your job but think you rock, you will hate this book. If you are good at your job, this book will probably validate a lot of what you already think is right. Regardless, I guarantee you will learn plenty from this book.
I haven’t yet seen a book that lays such a clear map of the territory you deal with when operating a web services company. Not only does this book get into some fairly technical details about scaling techniques, monitoring capabilities, continuous integration methods and so forth – but it also talks about the real life stories that led to those techniques. The real problems that companies like Twitter and Flickr have had to deal with and why they chose the strategies they did. The book gives you, the guy trying to convince a CTO or CIO, the ammo you might need to tell folks that your problems are not unique and that other people have solved them – and those people are actually measurably successful.
I’ll leave it as an exercise to you to visit the O’Reilly site and read the table of contents, read the first few chapters. If you haven’t found anything you are interested in learning then forget it. That said, I seriously doubt anyone following this blog can’t learn from this book. I learned a LOT from this book. And it wasn’t just things I had never heard of before, it was also confirmation of suspicions I had – ideas I thought might work that this book confirmed, and ideas I had that this book told me weren’t worth my time.
A favorite quote of mine: “Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement” – this book will save you a fair amount of bad judgement and help you avoid some of those experiences that make us older folks cynical and grumpy. It’s absolutely worth reading cover to cover – it’s the best source of this information I’ve found to date and you should read it if you have any interest in building and/or operating a Web Operations company.