As organizations build more web applications and bring more people to their website to engage in social activities, the need to keep their website running smoothly is critical. A new book from O'Reilly called Web Operations: Keeping the Data on Time should help you understand how to run these website effectively.

Operations are Critical

I don't think that's a surprise to anyone who owns or runs a website. But sometimes organizations spend more time thinking about the website or web applications themselves and not enough about how the infrastructure supports them.

There are people who do think about the backend though and many of them have contributed their stories and insights to this new book from O'Reilly. The book was primarily written by John Allspaw, Operations Engineering Manager at Flickr, and Jesse Robbins, CEO of Opscode.

There are a lot of topics covered that will guide you through the best approaches to managing the operational aspects of your website/web app. With 17 chapters and 336 pages, you won't be bored. Some topics:

  • Infrastructure and Application Metrics
  • Monitoring
  • Dealing With Unexpected Traffic Spikes
  • How Your Visitors Feel: User-Facing Metrics
  • How to Make Failure Beautiful: The Art and Science of Postmortems

There's even a chapter no NoSQL databases, the new non-relational database models that are making waves.

Even if you don't have a website the size of Google or Microsoft, you can still apply practices that will keep your operations running as smoothly as possible. From the Forward:

Our experiences were universal: Our software crashed or couldn’t scale. The databases crashed and data was corrupted, while every server, disk, and switch failed in ways the manufacturer absolutely, positively said it wouldn’t. Hackers attacked—first for fun and then for profit. And just when we got things working again, a new feature would be pushed out, traffic would spike, and everything would break all over again.


We say that Web Operations is an art, not a science, for a reason. There are no standards, certifications, or formal schooling (at least not yet). What we do takes a long time to learn and longer to master, and everyone at every skill level must find his or her own style. There’s no “right way,” only what works (for now) and a commitment to doing it even better next time.

If that resonates with you, then this book is worth a look. You can get the full details on the book and order it here. If you want a peek at some of the chapters, there are sections available to view at Safari Online.