A review of Web Operations by John Allspaw and Jesse Robbins

Web Operations

Web Operations

Web Operations. By John Allspaw and Jesse Robbins, O’Reilly 2010, with a chapter by myself. (Here’s a link to the publisher’s site).

I wrote a chapter for this book, and it’s now on shelves in bookstores near you. I got my dead-tree copy today and read everyone else’s contributions to it. It’s a good book. A group effort such as this one is necessarily going to have some differences in style and even overlapping content, but overall it works very well. It includes chapters from some really smart people, some of whom I was not previously familiar with. John and Jesse obviously have good connections. A lot of the folks are from Flickr.

Here are the highlights in my opinion.

What wasn’t so good? I didn’t get a lot of value out of John’s interview with Heather Champ, on community management and web operations. I did not think the interview format worked well in a book full of essays. But that might just be me. Also, a couple of places in two or three chapters felt a bit rant-ish without a lot of clear actionable advice; I think readers won’t get so much out of this.

Overall, though, this is a great book, badly needed, on a topic that is simply not yet recognized for its true importance. As Theo writes, we’re seeing the emergence of web operations as a very large profession; it’s one whose definition is not yet formalized or agreed-upon, but that’ll change. It’s too important not to. Jesse’s introduction repeats this sentiment: the world now relies on the web, and so the world relies also on the engineers who make it run. Web operations is work that matters.


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