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Thursday
Jun022011

Is WPO doomed not to learn from history?

I read an interesting blog today in response to my post about Who should be on your WPO team?

Alexander Podelko’s post is entitled “WPO: A New Wave of Performance Engineering?” in which he tries to contextualise WPO as another in a long series of “waves” within the performance engineering discipline as a whole. Alexander is a Director of the non-profit Computer Measurement Group (CMG) and is a performance expert at Oracle, so he is well positioned to put things in perspective.

Alexander laments:

“So, while it is very promising and exciting that we get a new wave of people dedicated to performance, it is a little sad that it looks like it often gets started from a scratch inventing new terminology and ignoring what existed before. For me it would be better if we get all these waves together to enrich each other with the area of performance engineering they specialize in.”

I concur… which is why I presented on WPO at the UK CMG conference earlier this year as a way to try and bridge the gap between “old school back-end performance optimisation” and “new school front-end performance optimisation”.

I agree with Alexander that you can’t ignore either back-end or front-end optimisation when you are looking to improve the performance of your website!

I hope that WPO isn’t seen as “elitist” and at risk of not learning from the experiences of the earlier “waves” of performance engineering.

So… if there is a CMG group in your area why not reach out to them and offer to give them a presentation on the “new wave” and/or invite them to attend your WPO events?

Hug a CMG member today, people!

Reader Comments (4)

I certainly hope WPO isn't considered "elitist", if anything I think it's more "rogue" (though even that's probably not the right word for it). I'm a little surprised that I hadn't even HEARD of the CMG before, particularly since I live close to where they hold the annual conference and I've been working on networking performance for over a decade. I guess the question I would have since there is a group focused entirely on performance since 1975 is "why did they not identify the front-end performance issues of the web and why are they only now becoming aware of WPO?"

but looking at the website I think I know why. It feels very much like the process around defining SOAP vs REST. On one hand you have a very rigorous standards process that was well vetted and took years to build up (and is a royal pain in the... to actually use for mortals) and on the other you have something that was hacked together by people just trying to get work done. CMG strikes me as a very rigorous, scientific group with research papers covering the gamut from Mainframe systems to networks (and a MEMBERSHIP!). WPO on the other hand is very much focused on the Web (full stack I would hope) and is much less formal.

I've been considering adding a back-end check to WebPagetest as one of the main grades, mostly because I see a lot of poorly optimized Wordpress and Joomla sites come through where the first byte times are measured in 10's of seconds.

I think the best web performance engineers/architects/optimizers should understand the full stack, all the way from the network through the back-end (load balancers, application stack, etc) and the front end out to the browser.

June 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Meenan

I posted some thoughts about the front end vs. back end discussion.

As per CMG, it is definitely an organization of practitioners, not [too] academic or scientific. Compare, for example, with ACM SIGMETRICS.

June 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Podelko

And about Patrick's comment I guess the question I would have since there is a group focused entirely on performance since 1975 is "why did they not identify the front-end performance issues of the web and why are they only now becoming aware of WPO?"

First, all my posts are my personal views, I am not speaking on behalf of CMG or my employer. CMG attendees have very diverse backgrounds, so I'd never assume who knows what.

Second, I was aware that there are people optimizing browser/web server performance, there is the Velocity conference (and before there were some events organized by Keynote, Gomez, etc.). The front end just wasn't much of a problem in what I was doing (and when it was, I mostly ended my performance investigation by finding what the exact problem was). What I didn't realize is that it became a separate movement (or discipline, or whatever is the right word to describe this additional quality).

Third, my point was that people involved in performance are indeed very segmented and often are not looking much outside their silos – while performance is always end-to-end (breaking it is already a significant performance analysis step). I am not saying that people involved in WPO are more guilty in this than any other group of [performance] professional. But I got feeling that becoming a movement, sometimes WPO approaches get extended to the whole end-to-end performance while other approaches may be needed.

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Podelko

Sorry, I should never post comments without reviewing them first - I always seem to come across a lot harsher than I mean to.

I'm actually excited to learn that there is an existing industry group focused on computing performance and measurement in general (and REALLY excited that the conference this year is in my back yard). I look forward to chatting more with professionals from all sorts of performance backgrounds.

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Meenan

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