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The Art of Scalability: Scalable Web Architecture, Processes, and Organizations for the Modern Enterprise 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0137030422
ISBN-10: 0137030428
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This book is much more than you may think it is. Scale is not just about designing Web sites that don’t crash when lots of users show up. It is about designing your company so that it doesn’t crash when your business needs to grow. These guys have been there on the front lines of some of the most successful Internet companies of our time, and they share the good, the bad, and the ugly about how to not just survive, but thrive.”

–Marty Cagan, Founder, Silicon Valley Product Group


“A must read for anyone building a Web service for the mass market.”

–Dana Stalder, General Partner, Matrix Partners



“Abbott and Fisher have deep experiences with scale in both large and small enterprises. What’s unique about their approach to scalability is they start by focusing on the true foundation: people and process, without which true scalability cannot be built. Abbott and Fisher leverage their years of experience in a very accessible and practical approach to scalability that has been proven over time with their significant success.”

–Geoffrey Weber, VP of Internet Operations/IT, Shutterfly


“If I wanted the best diagnoses for my health I would go to the Mayo Clinic. If I wanted the best diagnoses for my portfolio companies’ performance and scalability I would call Martin and Michael. They have recommended solutions to performance and scalability issues that have saved some of my companies from a total rewrite of the system.”

–Warren M. Weiss, General Partner, Foundation Capital


“As a manager who worked under Michael Fisher and Marty Abbott during my time at PayPal/eBay, the opportunity to directly absorb the lessons and experiences presented in this book are invaluable to me now working at Facebook.”

–Yishan Wong, Director of Engineering, Facebook


"The Art of Scalability is by far the best book on scalability on the market today. The authors tackle the issues of scalability from processes, to people, to performance, to the highly technical. Whether your organization is just starting out and is defining processes as you go, or you are a mature organization, this is the ideal book to help you deal with scalability issues before, during, or after an incident. Having built several projects, programs, and companies from small to significant scale, I can honestly say I wish I had this book one, five, and ten years ago.”

–Jeremy Wright, CEO, b5media, Inc.


“Only a handful of people in the world have experienced the kind of growth-related challenges that Fisher and Abbott have seen at eBay, PayPal, and the other companies they’ve helped to build. Fewer still have successfully overcome such challenges. The Art of Scalability provides a great summary of lessons learned while scaling two of the largest internet companies in the history of the space, and it’s a must-read for any executive at a hyper-growth company. What’s more, it’s well-written and highly entertaining. I couldn’t put it down.”

–Kevin Fortuna, Partner, AKF Consulting


“Marty and Mike’s book covers all the bases, from understanding how to build a scalable organization to the processes and technology necessary to run a highly scalable architecture. They have packed in a ton of great practical solutions from real world experiences. This book is a must-read for anyone having difficulty managing the scale of a hyper-growth company or a startup hoping to achieve hyper growth.”

–Tom Keeven, Partner, AKF Consulting


The Art of Scalability is remarkable in its wealth of information and clarity; the authors provide novel, practical, and demystifying approaches to identify, predict, and resolve scalability problems before they surface. Marty Abbott and Michael Fisher use their rich experience and vision, providing unique and groundbreaking tools to assist small and hyper-growth organizations as they maneuver in today’s demanding technological environments.”

–Joseph M. Potenza, Attorney, Banner & Witcoff, Ltd.

From the Back Cover

A Comprehensive, Proven Approach to IT Scalability from Two Veteran Software, Technology, and Business Executives

 

InThe Art of Scalability,AKF Partners cofounders Martin L. Abbott and Michael T. Fisher cover everything IT and business leaders must know to build technology infrastructures that can scale smoothly to meet any business requirement. Drawing on their unparalleled experience managing some of the world's highest-transaction-volume Web sites, the authors provide detailed models and best-practice approaches available in no other book.

 

Unlike previous books on scalability,The Art of Scalabilitydoesn't limit its coverage to technology. Writing for both technical and nontechnical decision-makers, this book covers everything that impacts scalability, including architecture, processes, people, and organizations.

 

Throughout, the authors address a broad spectrum of real-world challenges, from performance testing to IT governance. Using their tools and guidance, organizations can systematically overcome obstacles to scalability and achieve unprecedented levels of technical and business performance.

 

Coverage includes

  • Staffing the scalable organization: essential organizational, management, and leadership skills for technical leaders
  • Building processes for scale: process lessons from hyper-growth companies, from technical issue resolution to crisis management
  • Making better “build versus buy decisions
  • Architecting scalable solutions: powerful proprietary models for identifying scalability needs and choosing the best approaches to meet them
  • Optimizing performance through caching, application and database splitting, and asynchronous design
  • Scalability techniques for emerging technologies, including clouds and grids
  • Planning for rapid data growth and new data centers
  • Evolving monitoring strategies to tightly align with customer requirements
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0137030428
  • ISBN-13: 978-0137030422
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #770,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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This book is good from an HR / management perspective on scalability. I wish the authors had been more technical (and by that I mean less "qualitative" and more statistical) in their approach (even though I agree there can be no "one size fits all" solution to this problem). There are instances in the book where the authors mention that while a team of 1 can produce 1 unit of work, a team of 2 can produce only 1.99 units of work, an assertion which makes about as much sense in the real world as a unicorn. I am sorry if I am coming across as being very negative, because there are some very strong points in this book which are worth considering. However, my grievance (as an engineer) is that it is not for a techie who wants to create a scalable company (aka Brinn/Page or Zuckerburg), but instead is for a management grad who wants to manage a tech company. I wish there were more books available for the former, than the latter.
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Someone wrote, of this book: "However, my grievance (as an engineer) is that it is not for a techie who wants to create a scalable company (aka Brinn/Page or Zuckerburg), but instead is for a management grad who wants to manage a tech company."

I think this is spot on. I am a software engineer of about 7 years and I was looking for technical insight on scaling as well as tips for an engineer advancing through the phases of a start up Internet company.

The book belabored simple or even self-evident concepts to the point of almost unreadability. I thought, honestly, at some points they were padding it. For someone with my experience level, which I wouldn't self-rate even as "a lot of experience", the book was almost insight-less. Perhaps a management degree graduate looking to get into tech management would find this text useful in some way.
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Format: Paperback
As other reviewers have pointed out the book will not go into technical details; however, it does not linger at the high level view either. I found that it does talk about issues and possible solutions, though without going into details of implementation of those solutions. There was enough discussion so that you can apply issues to your own situation and then go explore for more details. Meaning, it will give you some direction in what to look for. And this is what makes the book valuable as a resource for someone who is managing operations. For an engineer who wants to solve scale problems it won't shed a whole lot of light. It is not a step by step guide, for that you need to go to another book.
What I also liked about the book is that it provides so much more than just talk of issues of scale but all those subjects around it as well, in a concise format. The book is dense but does not bog down in any one subject so that you get bored or feel like you should skim most of it when reading a chapter.
There are sections purely on management and processes so many people might want to gloss or skip those areas, but for others its a great addition.
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The Art of Scalability is an excellent book, written by some guys that know A LOT about scaling technology and organizations. These were the guys that scaled the infrastructure at eBay to support massive growth in the late 90s through the mid 2000s. The book focuses on people, process, and technology - ALL of which are critical to building a scalable company. Some folks write books purely focused on the technical aspect of scaling a business, which I think misses most of the picture. Yes there are certain technical design principles that are critical such as scale out, not up, implement caching, etc. The point is that if you hire and fire the right people and implement correct processes you have a much greater chance to implement the appropriate technology infrastructure to support a high-growth business. What really elevates this book from others is that it is not too abstract when talking about people and process. They provide detailed examples of what a post mortem meeting agenda should be and who should attend, what the role of the problem manager should be, etc.

ON the technical side of the equation, they spend a lot of time discussing design principles and architecture trade-offs. This includes when to split databases, separating applications or actions into 'swim lanes', etc. There is enough here to satisfy someone who is just looking for technical design and architecture as well.

If you are involved in building or supporting a scalable technology business this is a MUST read.
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Format: Paperback
Imagine a highly scalable architecture of a successful ecommerce company.
If you visualize distributed data centers, content distribution networks,
Brewers CAP theorem etc you have only half of the scalability story.
This book tells the whole story of organizational scalability of which
technical scalability is only a part. Consider some examples like how do
you perform reliable change management of a vast infrastructure to
maintain business continuity or what should be the model for unambiguous
responsibility-accountibility in a scalable organization.

I have worked in a critical scalability project of PayPal.com and can vouch
that this book is a gem.
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