What is ScaleConf?
Now in its fourth year, ScaleConf is a three day annual conference centred on the Internet and the need to build websites to sustain the rigors of today’s traffic and usage. With WiFi sponsored by RSAWEB, this year’s ScaleConf took place at Kirstenbosch Gardens from 4th – 6th March and included a host of local and international speakers such as Franz Struwig from Garmin, Willem Van Biljon from Takealot and Charity Majors from Parse / Facebook, to name but a few.
Following the success of last year’s conference, RSAWEB decided to round up our senior Developers and send them off to see what all the fuss was about and so I was lucky enough to attend.
Dev team on the loose
As experts in cloud, scale is incredibly important to us at RSAWEB, so it was with great anticipation that we attended ScaleConf, eager to see what the community out there has been up to. Suffice to say that the speakers’ content did not disappoint and we found the conference massively interesting and insightful.
The first of the three days concentrated on scaling of business with the following two days looking at the scaling of code and infrastructure. The technical content was incredibly rich and covered everything from the latest cloud scaling trends with AWS and Google APS, monolithic applications scaling and fancy footwork with databases and sharding. We even had one speaker discuss how scale can translate to non-technical elements such as learning or up-skilling.
No development team can be an island, and it was refreshing to see that the challenges we have faced and the solutions we’ve implemented in projects at RSAWEB, are similar to those faced by other business and development teams across the country and its borders.
All the glam and glitter aside though, scale is something that has been around in Cape Town for some time now, and every respectable dev team has dabbled in it in some way or another. As with all emerging trends, we saw a huge spike in up-take initially, with a common thought process abounding of “Let’s scale everything and anything” as we emerged from the heavy yoke of single server, monolithic applications.
However, as time has passed, and developers have had a chance to test and play with scalability, there seems to be a new idea brewing amongst this wiser generation of engineers and developers as the predominant idea at this year’s conference appeared to be “Scale Responsibly”.
More and more we are finding ourselves asking the question “Does it need scale?” – a question that I felt actually became the mantra at the conference.
Degrees of scale
As I said in my previous blog post about Flex Cloud ‘with great scale comes great responsibility’ and I feel that the question of ‘Does it need scale’ deserves nothing less than to be answered with system metrics. Degrees or the need to scale, for many development teams often incorrectly comes down to a “feeling” – one that often results in the over-engineering of solutions. This was the over-arching thought I was left with from ScaleConf, the need to consider degree of scale and to scale responsibly.
Overall it was a great conference with a seemingly limitless supply of good coffee and I believe that ScaleConf should certainly be a must on any serious engineer’s calendar as it gave us some good validation on where we stack up with the rest of the community.