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Snowflake Index Fund and AppNexus Engineering@Scale

Matt Levine, Bloomberg, Financial Innovation Is Depressing, here.  Wow, Levine got Bloomberg to give him actual footnotes.

DealBook has a special section today on ideas and innovation on Wall Street and let’s just say it will not inspire too many idealistic Stanford undergrads to stop work on their iPhone apps and take that financial-engineering job at Wells Fargo. It’s all pretty sad stuff.

My favorite article in the section is of course the one on innovation in fraud, which it turns out is genuinely fertile ground for creativity, though tell that to the Stanford kids. To be fair, though, there is also innovation in catching fraud, specifically a Commodity Futures Trading Commission Rule, adopted in 2011, that outlaws market manipulation. So! Nice work there CFTC.

Favorite footnote so far –

3 Provably false in the aggregate, but always possible for you. You don’t need to settle for average returns, you are a special snowflake, buy our snowflake index fund, etc.

Jessica, appnexus tech blog, AppNexus Engineering@Scale: Building & Shipping a Scalable Product, here.

Few people are more familiar with website scalability problems than Theo Schlossnagle. Not only is Theo the founder and CEO of OmniTI, he is also the author of Scalable Internet Architectures, a book that draws on his 15 years of experience to provide developers with a blueprint for tackling the biggest obstacles to successful scaling. Theo shared his wisdom in a recent AppNexus Engineering@Scale talk.

This 20Nov talk looks interesting as well:

TestOps: Continuous Integration when Infrastructure is the Product
An AppNexus Engineering @ Scale Conversation Series

Join us November 20th for “TestOps: Continuous Integration when Infrastructure is the Product” presented by Barry Jaspan, Senior Architect of Acquia. Continuous Integration and Deployment are powerful approaches for improving software development and release engineering. However, when your product is infrastructure running other people’s applications instead of just your own, different problems arise.

Releases involve reconfiguring daemons and servers, possibly restarting them. Updates must be carefully choreographed to maintain high availability. Upgrading 6000+ servers “at once” is impossible, so running multiple versions simultaneously is required. Rolling back is  difficult, so automated testing is critical. With the rise of configuration management systems like Puppet and Chef, server configuration is now software. Like all software, server configuration needs constant automated testing in order to work, but testing infrastructure-as-software is a substantially different problem from testing normal application software.

puppet labs, What is Puppet? here.

Puppet is IT automation software that helps system administrators manage infrastructure throughout its lifecycle, from provisioning and configuration to orchestration and reporting. Using Puppet, you can easily automate repetitive tasks, quickly deploy critical applications, and proactively manage change, scaling from 10s of servers to 1000s, on-premise or in the cloud.

Opscode, Chef, How Chef Works, here.

Chef is based on a key insight: You can model your evolving IT infrastructure and applications as code. Chef makes no assumptions about your environment and the approach you use to configure and manage it. Instead, Chef gives you a way to describe and automate your infrastructure and processes. Your infrastructure becomes testable, versioned and repeatable. It becomes part of your Agile process.

Peter Wayner, InfoWorld, Puppet or Chef: The configuration management dilemma, here.

Thank goodness for automation. Over the years, smart sys admins looked at the ballooning task list and figured out a way to write scripts that would handle the repetitive tasks. They built their own junior robot sys admin to do the work for them.

The hard work has coalesced into two major factions called Puppet and Chef. There are a number of other notable projects with readable names like Ansible and unreadable names like Bcfg2, but Puppet and Chef seem to have gathered the most excitement for now.

Both are open source stacks of code designed to make it easy for you to reach out and touch the files in your vast empire of virtual machines. Both have open source marketplaces for you to swap plug-ins that extend the framework and handle your particular type of hardware or software. Both are pretty cool, and both are finding homes in the racks of data centers around the world. Both now have companies built around the open source core selling assistance.

 

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