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Book Review – Web Operations

Web Operations: Keeping the Data On Time By John Allspaw and Jesse Robbins, is a collection of essays and interviews dealing specifically with web operations. The book’s stated goals are to explain the skills needed in web operations, demonstrate why it’s important to gather metrics, describe common approaches to database architectures, and define what to do after a problem occurs. I think they succeeded and would recommend this book to any technologist responsible for a highly available system. As one would expect, I enjoyed some essays more than others but overall found myself nodding my head in agreement with many of the authors.

The authors John Allspaw and Jesse Robbins, in addition to a long list of contributors such as Eric Ries, Paul Hammond, and Justin Huff, have terrific CV’s that demonstrate their first hand knowledge of what it takes to run large scale web operations. John is currently a Technical Advisor at Etsy and was formerly the Engineering Manager of Flickr Operations at Yahoo!. Jesse is the CEO & Co-founder of Opscode and worked at Amazon.com with a title of “Master of Disaster”.

Unlike other collection of essay books such as 97 Things Every Programmers Should Know, which I enjoyed but found disorganized (see my full review here) Web Operations is well organized starting from general overview discussions to specific and actionable examples. The first chapter is an overview of web operations from a career perspective and the book continues with chapters discussing such topics as continuous deployment, infrastructure as code, community involvment, dev and ops collaboration, relational databases, and noSQL databases.

Put this book on your reading list or download it to your Kindle/iPad to read on your next flight. Be prepared to bookmark or highlight many of the authors’ insights that you’ll want to remember and share with your team.

For people interested in more books that we recommend, check them out at our Amazon store.