mPulse

Thursday, May 8, 2008

It's the network, dummy

In the GigaOm blog today, Allen Leinwand puts up a monstrous wake-up call to all the hip and cool Web 2.0 companies out there: Your apps run across the Internet [here].

I have spent 9 years investigating, diagnosing, and validating the Web performance issues of companies. I can tear the Web performance data of a site down quickly and ask pointed questions about why certain components of an application are behaving poorly.

But even after 9 years, there are still gimme problems around connection setup that I can seem brilliant about, not because I have some secret knowledge, but because I think of Web performance from the Network UP, not from the Application DOWN.

The subtlety of this difference what Leinwand is alluding to. Fancy applications run across the Internet. The Internet is built on TCP. And TCP is built on-top of a very complex networking infrastructure that is way beyond the realm of my skills.

If you don't know what packet loss looks like, or how your fancy app presents to clients, or how to ensure that this data is collected and presented to you in a timely way, then you are being exposed to alerting by client calls.

All because you thought the biggest problem was scaling your app, not ensuring that the network it crossed to reach people affected the way it performed. Network geeks created Web 1.0; Web 2.0 seems to think they are mostly unecessary.

Wrong.

Measure your performance. Understand TCP. Hire a network geek (or 20).

Then sleep better at night.

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