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July 2017 Archives

Networking geeks: Google made a big announcements about BBR this week. Here's a technical deep-dive: http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=3022184 (Hint: if you would read ACM Queue like I keep telling you to, you'd have known about this before all your friends.)

Someone on Facebook asked me for a "explain it like I'm 5 years old" explanation. Here's my reply:

Short version: Google changed the TCP implementation (their network stack) and now your youtube videos, Google websites, Google Cloud applications, etc. download a lot faster and smoother. Oh, and it doesn't get in the way of other websites that haven't made the switch. (Subtext: another feature of Google Cloud that doesn't exist at AWS or Azure. Nothing to turn on, no extra charge.)

ELI5 version: TCP tries to balance the need to be fast and fair. Fast... transmitting data quickly. Fair... don't hog the internet, share the pipe. Being fair is important. In fact, it is so important that most TCP implementations use a "back off" algorithm that results in you getting about 1/2 the bandwidth of the pipe... even if you are the only person on it. That's TCP's dirty little secret: it under-utilizes your network connection by as much as 50%.

Backoff schemes that use more than 1/2 the pipe tend to crowd out other people, thus are unfair. So, in summary, the current TCP implementations prioritize fairness over good utilization. We're wasting bandwidth.

Could we do better? Yes. There are better backoff algorithms but they are so much work that they are impractical. For years researchers have tried to make better schemes that are easy to compute. (As far back as the 1980s researchers built better and better simulations so they could experiment with different backoff schemes.)

Google is proposing a new backoff algorithm called BBR. It has reached the holy grail: It is more fair than existing schemes. If a network pipe only has one user, they basically use the whole thing. If many users are sharing a pipe, it shares it fairly. You get more download speed over the same network. Not only that, it doesn't require changes to the internet, just the sender.

And here's the real amazing part: it works if you implement BBR on both the client and the server, but it works pretty darn good if only change the sender's software (i.e. Google updated their web frontends and you don't have to upgrade your PC). Wait! Even more amazing is that it doesn't ruin the internet if some people use it and some people use the old methods.

They've been talking about it for nearly a year at conferences and stuff. Now they've implemented it at www.google.com, youtube.com, and so on. You get less "buffering.... buffering..." even on mobile connections. BBR is enabled "for free" for all Google Cloud users.

With that explanation, you can probably read the ACM article a bit easier. Here's the link again: http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=3022184

Disclaimer: I don't own stock in Google, Amazon or Microsoft. I don't work for any of them. I'm an ex-employee of Google. I use GCP, AWS and Azure about equally (nearly zero).

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Google

My new column in ACM Queue is entitled, "Four Ways to Make CS and IT Curricula More Immersive". I rant and rail against the way that CS and IT is taught today and propose 4 ways CS educators can improve the situation.

The article is free to ACM members. Non-members can purchase an annual subscription for $19.99 or a single issue for $6.99 online or through the Apple or Google stores.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ACM Queue Column

This month's NYCDevOps meetup speaker will be Martín Beauchamp talking about "Clos Networks for Datacenters". You don't want to miss this!

  • Date: Tuesday, July 18, 2017
  • Time: 6:30 PM
  • Location: Stack Overflow HQ, 110 William St, 28th floor, NY, NY

Space is limited! RSVP soon!

https://www.meetup.com/nycdevops/events/240295361/

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

Companies don't make their "DevOps transformation" over night. Usually there is a small team that adopts devops practices and then, after proving their success, the practices spread throughout the company horizontally. However sometimes their success becomes an island. There is no momentum and the better practices fail to expand around the company.

Growing devops practices within a company is not easy. It is especially difficult when it does not have management support, or the advocate does not executive authority. Some techniques for building momentum work, others do not.

Earlier this year Josh Atwell, Carmen DeArdo, Jeff Gallimore, and myself sat down to write a list of techniques we've seen succeed. No theory. No hyperbole. No fluff. We wanted to write down what we've seen work so that other people can copy these simple but effective techniques. This is a book for people in the trenches, not executives.

We realized that the list didn't need to be long nor did it need to be exhaustive. There are 2-3 that are simple, powerful, and almost always work. This didn't need to be an encyclopedia!

The result of this list is a new 14-page free book from IT Revolution called Expanding Pockets of Greatness: Spreading DevOps Horizontally in Your Organization.

The book is now available online for free. It's only 14 pages (10 if you skip the cover and front-matter). We wrote it in a day. You can read it in an hour:

Get it! https://itrevolution.com/book/expanding-pockets-greatness



Title:

Expanding Pockets of Greatness: Spreading DevOps Horizontally in Your Organization

Description:

Here you are: There are a few pockets of DevOps in your organization, but you are a long way from achieving a total DevOps transformation.

How do you build momentum and go from a few islands of DevOps goodness to a tipping point where the entire organization embraces common DevOps methods?

This paper is about the techniques others have used to build momentum to spread DevOps horizontally across an organization. The techniques fall in four categories: sharing, communicating, standardizing, and empowering new leaders.

You're not alone. DevOps is out there in your organization. We want to help you find it and scale it.


Posted by Tom Limoncelli in DevOps

I'll be giving my talk "Stealing the Best Ideas from DevOps: A Guide for Sysadmins without Developers" at the Northern NJ Red Hat User Group tomorrow. If you are in the area, it would be great to see you there!

https://www.meetup.com/NorthernNJRHUG/events/240019682/

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

This month's NYCDevOps meetup speaker will be Martín Beauchamp talking about "Clos Networks for Datacenters".

  • Date: Tuesday, July 18, 2017
  • Time: 6:30 PM
  • Location: Stack Overflow HQ, 110 William St, 28th floor, NY, NY

Space is limited! RSVP soon!

https://www.meetup.com/nycdevops/events/240295361/

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in NYCDevOps Meetup

The subtitle of some of my books have recently changed to better reflect the contents. As a result the book covers have been updated. Titles and covers are, essentially, a billboard for the contents. We wanted to make sure they more accurately guide potentially readers to the book.

The new subtitles are:

  • Volume 1: The Practice of System and Network Administration:
    • DevOps and other best practices for enterprise IT
  • Volume 2: The Practice of Cloud System Administration:
    • Devops and SRE Best Practices for Web Services

You can see the new book covers at the top of this web site, as well as on the-sysadmin-book.com and the-cloud-book.com.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

 
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