I’m not making this up.
I was in the big meeting before they let me on the live system that was at the very core of the second largest stock exchange in the United States. Everyone was there including the CIO. The meeting went smoothly and was very professional. When the meeting ended, the room cleared except for me and a powerfully built young man who was the lead system administrator. He got right in my face and in a clearly ominous tone quietly said, “Don’t fuck up the computer!”
On another day, at another business, the CEO asked me into his office and quietly told me: “If you do not have this problem fixed by the end of the week, I will have to lay everyone off and sell the building.” He was as serious as the grave.
On another day, on a different continent, I discovered the root of a huge problem a credit card company was having. A trivial change in the source code made a key transaction run approximately 200 times faster. The ensuing celebration was epic.
Performance work can make you a hero, it can save the company, and it can get you threatened, as well. However, most of the time it is remarkably ordinary. You gather data. You work to understand what it’s telling you. You present your conclusions. If you do your work right, most of the time, there is no drama at all.
Any average person can do basic performance work. You can read the obvious meters and write nice little reports. If you have an inquisitive mind and the willingness to dig for the hidden truth, then you can go beyond the obvious meters and do great work – the kind of work that saves the company.
I am at the end of my career, but before I walk off the stage I hope in this blog to give back the hints, tricks, knowledge, and wisdom so many have generously given to me.
The stuff I will write about works on any collection of computers, running any application on any operating system. It is the essence of what is true, and what works, in any performance related situation regardless of the technology involved.
I hope that you find this useful.