Jesse Robbins

Jesse Robbins

Seattle, Washington

Jesse Robbins (@jesserobbins) is CEO of Opscode (makers of Chef) and a recognized expert in Infrastructure, Web Operations, and Emergency Management.

He served as co-chair of the Velocity Web Performance & Operations Conference and contributes to the O’Reilly Radar. Prior to co-founding Opscode, he worked at with a title of "Master of Disaster" where he was responsible for Website Availability for every property bearing the Amazon brand.

Robbins is a volunteer Firefighter/EMT and Emergency Manager, and led a task force deployed in Operation Hurricane Katrina. His experiences in the fire service profoundly influence his efforts in technology, and he strives to distill his knowledge from these two worlds and apply it in service of both.

Web Operations Web Operations
by John Allspaw, Jesse Robbins
June 2010
Print: $39.99
Ebook: $35.99

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Jesse blogs at:

Happy SysAdmin Appreciation Day!

July 29 2011

If you are reading this (or any other) page, sending a message, watching a video, reading an email, or doing anything else that touches the web, you can thank a SysAdmin. read more

What Facebook's Open Compute Project means

April 07 2011

Jesse Robbins says Facebook's Open Compute Project represents a giant step for open source hardware, for the evolution of the web and cloud computing, and for infrastructure and operations in general. read more

Creating Cultural Change

June 29 2010

At Velocity 2010, John Rauser presented four funny & powerful examples of cultural change, from a campaign at his office to get people to fill the coffee pot after taking the last cup, to an award winning advertising campaign. This talk explains how to "sneak past people's mental filters" and… read more

Velocity Culture: Web Operations, DevOps, etc...

June 03 2010

Velocity 2010 is on June 22-24 (right around the corner!). This year we've added third track, Velocity Culture, dedicated to exploring what we've learned about how great teams & organizations work together to succeed at scale. Web Operations, or WebOps, is what many of us have been calling these ideas for… read more

CrisisCamps and the Pattern of Disaster Technology Innovation

January 23 2010

Over the past three years I have been working to bridge gaps between the tech community & traditional emergency management organizations.  I've focused on helping technologists adapt technologies to support humanitarian missions, often in response to a disaster.  After Hurricane Katrina, Mikel Maron and I discovered a pattern for successful innovation during and… read more

Velocity 2010: Fast By Default

November 24 2009

We're entering our third year of Velocity, the Web Performance & Operations Conference.. Velocity 2010 will be June 22-24, 2010 in Santa Clara, CA. It's going to be another incredible year. Steve Souders & I have set a new theme this year, "Fast by Default".  We want the broader Velocity… read more

More on how web performance impacts revenue...

October 01 2009

At Velocity this year Microsoft, Google and Shopzilla each presented data on how web performance directly impacts revenue. Their data showed that slow sites get fewer search queries per user, less revenue per visitor, fewer clicks, fewer searches, and lower search engine rankings. They found that in some cases even… read more

John Adams on Fixing Twitter: Improving the Performance and Scalability of the World's Most Popular Micro-blogging Site

August 06 2009

Twitter is suffering outages today as they fend off a Denial of Service attack, and so I thought it would be helpful to post John Adams’ exceptional Velocity session about Operations at Twitter. Good luck today John & team… I know it’s going to be a long day!... read more

Jonathan Heiliger on Web Performance, Operations, and Culture

June 24 2009

We were honored to have Jonathan Heiliger, Facebook’s VP of Technology Operations, as our opening keynote speaker at Velocity. Jonathan is one of the most accomplished leaders in our field, and is a master of the craft. Here is his keynote in it’s entirety:... read more

Ignite! comes to San Jose June 22nd - Submit your talks now!

June 08 2009

Ignite! is coming to San Jose on Monday June 22, 2009 at 8:00 pm, attached to the Velocity Conference. Admission is free, open to all, and there will be a cash bar. Submit your talks now! As with all Ignites each speaker will only get 20 slides that each auto-advance… read more

CrisisCamp is June 12-14th in Washington, DC

June 07 2009

CrisisCamp is an unconference to bring together domain experts, developers, and first responders to improve technology and practice for humanitarian crisis management and disaster relief. This is the first event in what I hope will become a movement, and it's happening on June 12 - 14, 2009 in Washington, DC.… read more

Time Lapse of Galactic Center of Milky Way rising over Texas Star Party

May 21 2009

Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party from William Castleman. According to William Castleman: The time-lapse sequence was taken with the simplest equipment that I brought to the star party. I put the Canon EOS-5D (AA screen modified to record hydrogen alpha at 656 nm) with an… read more

Space Shuttle Atlantis during Solar Transit

May 17 2009

In this tightly cropped image, the NASA space shuttle Atlantis is seen in silhouette during solar transit, Tuesday, May 12, 2009, from Florida. This image was made before Atlantis and the crew of STS-125 had grappled the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo Credit: (NASA/Thierry Legault) Thierry made this image using a… read more

Velocity 2009 - Big Ideas (early registration deadline)

May 08 2009

(tag cloud created from Velocity session & speaker information using My favorite interview question to ask candidates is: "What happens when you type www.(amazon|google|yahoo).com in your browser and press return?" While the actual process of serving and rendering a page takes seconds to complete, describing it in real detail… read more

Importance of Innovation in Finance & BarCampBank

April 20 2009

“Progress is not the mere correction of evils. Progress is the constant replacing of the best there is with something still better.” -Edward Filene Two years ago, when we were organizing the first BarCampBank in the US, many people found it hard to believe that banks & credit unions could… read more

AT&T Fiber cuts remind us: Location is a Basket too!

April 10 2009

The fiber cuts affecting much of the San Francisco Bay Area this week are similar to the outages in the Middle East last year (radar post), although far more limited in scope and impact.   What I said last year still holds true and is repeated below: From an operations perspective… read more

It's Really Just a Series of Tubes

April 07 2009

Molly Wright Steenson hit the Ignite jackpot at Etech this year with her explanation of the steam powered network of pneumatic tubes of the 1800s. If you're someone that, like me, has a [somewhat obsessive relationship with Internet Infrastructure](, you must watch this talk. read more

Understanding Web Operations Culture - the Graph & Data Obsession

February 05 2009

We’re quite addicted to data pr0n here at Flickr. We’ve got graphs for pretty much everything, and add graphs all of the time. -John Allspaw, Operations Engineering Manager at Flickr & author of The Art of Capacity Planning One of the most interesting parts of running a large website is… read more

Data Center Power Efficiency

November 30 2008

James Hamilton is one of the smartest and most accomplished engineers I know. He now leads Microsoft's Data Center Futures Team, and has been pushing the opportunities in data center efficiency and internet scale services both inside & outside Microsoft. His most recent post explores misconceptions about the Cost of… read more

Velocity 2009: Themes, ideas, and call for participation...

November 21 2008

Last year's Velocity conference was an incredible success. We expected around 400 people and we ended up maxing out the facility with over 600. This year we're moving the conference to a bigger space and extending it to 3 days to accommodate workshops and longer sessions. Velocity 2009 will be… read more

Major milestone for ProgrammableWeb & "The Web as Platform"

November 03 2008

Last week marked an important milestone for the "Web as Platform" as the 1,000 API was added to the ProgrammableWeb registry. John Musser (see: Web2.0 Report) started tracking the first few web service API's back in 2005. How do these 1000 APIs break down by type? The following chart, derived… read more

DisasterTech: "Decisions for Heros"

November 02 2008

One of the most interesting DisasterTech projects I've been following is "Decisions for Heros" led by developer and Irish Coast Guard volunteer Robin Blandford. Decisions for Heros is like Basecamp for volunteer Search & Rescue teams. The focus is on providing "just enough" process to compliment the real-world workflow of… read more

Sprint blocking Cogent network traffic...

October 31 2008

It appears that Sprint has stopped routing traffic (called "depeering") from Cogent as a result of some sort of legal dispute. Sprint customers cannot reach Cogent customers, and vice versa. The effect is similar to what would happen if Sprint were to block voice phonecalls to AT&T customers. Here's a… read more

Amazon's new EC2 SLA

October 24 2008

Amazon announced a new SLA for EC2, similar to the one for S3. This is a notable step for Amazon and cloud computing as a whole, as it establishes a new bar for utility computing services. Amazon is committing to 99.95% availability for the EC2 service on a yearly basis,… read more

Incredible images of the Sun

October 15 2008

The Boston Globe has assembled a beautiful gallery of images of the Sun. This LASCO C2 image, taken 8 January 2002, shows a widely spreading coronal mass ejection (CME) as it blasts more than a billion tons of matter out into space at millions of kilometers per hour. The C2… read more

Apple's restrictions mean more jailbreaking & Android adoption

September 24 2008

When Apple announced the iPhone SDK last year I said: [...] Jobs makes it clear that the platform won't be completely open. While he says that this is to balance the benefits of an open platform with user security protection, it's unclear where Apple will draw those lines. Will there… read more

Kaminsky DNS Patch Visualization

August 07 2008

Dan Kaminsky has posted the details of the widespread DNS vulnerability. Clarified Networks created this visualization of DNS patch deployment over the past month: Red = Unpatched Yellow = Patched, "but NAT is screwing things up" Green = OK... read more

The new internet traffic spikes

June 29 2008

Theo Schlossnagle, author of Scalable Internet Architectures, gave a great explanation of how internet traffic spikes are shifting: Lately, I see more sudden eyeballs and what used to be an established trend seems to fall into a more chaotic pattern that is the aggregate of different spike signatures around a… read more

The new internet traffic spikes

June 29 2008

Theo Schlossnagle, author of Scalable Internet Architectures, gave a great explanation of how internet traffic spikes are shifting: Lately, I see more sudden eyeballs and what used to be an established trend seems to fall into a more chaotic pattern that is the aggregate of different spike signatures around a… read more

Video of Rich Wolski's incredible EUCALYPTUS talk at Velocity

June 24 2008

Rich Wolski gave a truly impressive talk at Velocity about an open-source software infrastructure for cloud computing called EUCALYPTUS . The API is compatible with Amazon's EC2 interface, and the underlying infrastructure is designed to support multiple client-side interfaces. EUCALYPTUS is implemented using commonly-available Linux tools and basic Web-service technologies… read more

Hyperic CloudStatus service dashboard launches at Velocity!

June 23 2008

Javier Soltero just launched CloudStatus during his Hyperic sponsor session today at Velocity. CloudStatus is a public health dashboard for web services like Amazon's EC2/S3, and Google's App Engine. Javier called to tell me about this last week after I declared that "Service Monitoring Dashboards are mandatory". This comes right… read more

code_swarm - visualizing the life of open source

June 19 2008

code_swarm was created by Michael Ogawa with Processing. This visualization, called code_swarm, shows the history of commits in a software project. A commit happens when a developer makes changes to the code or documents and transfers them into the central project repository. Both developers and files are represented as moving… read more

Service Monitoring Dashboards are mandatory for production services!

June 18 2008

Google App Engine went down earlier today. GAE is still a developer preview release, and currently lacks a public monitoring dashboard. Unfortunately this means that many people either found out from their app and/or admin consoles being unavailable or from Mike Arrington's post on TechCrunch. Google has a strong Web… read more

Two new open source projects at Velocity

June 17 2008

At Velocity next week there will be two significant open source projects debuting. The first is the Jiffy: Open Source Performance Measurement and Instrumentation tool created by Scott Ruthfield and his team at Most tools for measuring web performance come in two flavors: Developer-installed tools (Firebug, Fiddler, etc.) that… read more

Understanding Web Operations Culture (Part 1)

June 14 2008

“You don’t choose the moment, the moment chooses you. You only choose how prepared you are when it does.” - Fire Chief Mike Burtch Last week I came upon a truck vs. scooter accident on my way home. I could hear a woman yelling in pain from underneath the truck… read more

CloudCamp gathering after Velocity

June 13 2008

On Tuesday after Velocity closes there will be a CloudCamp gathering at Microsoft's San Francisco Office. I'll be going (unless I'm too exhausted to stand). CloudCamp was formed in order to provide a common ground for the introduction and advancement of cloud computing Through a series of local cloudcamp events,… read more

BarCampBank is spreading

June 12 2008

When Ben Black and I organized the first BarCampBank in North America last year, we hoped that it would spread. According to William Azaroff's post on NetBanker, the movement is there and growing: What's all this about BarCampBanks? From a North American premiere in Seattle almost a year ago, we've… read more

Bill Coleman to keynote Velocity

June 11 2008

Bill Coleman has twice transformed our industry, and I'm excited to announce that he will keynote Velocity later this month. Bill is most famous for being the "B" in BEA and for leading the creation of Solaris while at Sun. He is now the CEO of his new startup, Cassatt,… read more

TLS Report grades and reports on site security

June 10 2008

My friend Ben Black just released TLS Report, a free (ad-supported) tool that evaluates SSL/TLS configurations across websites and assigns letter grades. In the example below, Facebook gets a D because it accepts several keys that are below 128-bits and relies on MD5: Ben explains: Cryptography is arcane and complex.… read more

DisasterTech from Where2.0

May 31 2008

I was honored to speak with Mikel Maron at Where2.0 about innovation in Disaster Technology, a topic that is extremely important to me. Here is the video: This talk covers the ongoing efforts of: World Shelters, the UN Joint Logistics Centre,, InSTEDD, and Humanlink. You can read about the… read more

DisasterTech from Where2.0

May 30 2008

I was honored to speak with Mikel Maron at Where2.0 about innovation in Disaster Technology, a topic that is extremely important to me. Here is the video:... read more

Ignite! @ Velocity: Submit your talks & "war stories"...

May 29 2008

Velocity is next month, and we're doing a special Ignite! on Monday, June 23rd at 8:45 pm. This event is free and will be open to all. There will be a cash bar. We will be doing 16 talks. Each Ignite! talk is 5 minutes long with 20 slides and… read more

Burmese translation of Sahana complete!

May 17 2008

Eduardo Jezierski and the team at InSTEDD have been leading an incredible effort to translate and localize the Sahana humanitarian aid system to Burmese. They were nearly complete when they took the stage this week at Where2.0 (video soon), and it looks like they have finished the last line. Ed… read more

Automated Infrastructure Podcast on IT Conversations

May 14 2008

Adam Jacob and I did an IT Conversations podcast with Phil Windley last week, which I really enjoyed. We started with a summary of Adam's excellent Web2.0 Expo session, covered the phases of startup growth using virtual infrastructures like EC2 and 3tera, and discussed how Puppet shifts us to "Infrastructure… read more

Structure and Velocity

May 11 2008

Several people have asked me about the differences between Om Malik's Structure conference and our Velocity Web Performance & Operations conference. The conferences are complimentary: Structure discusses what is changing in internet infrastructure, and Velocity teaches how to make that change happen. Velocity is a place to send entire teams,… read more

Structure and Velocity

May 10 2008

Several people have asked me about the differences between Om Malik's Structure conference and our Velocity Web Performance & Operations conference.  Velocity is on June 23 & 24th at the SFO Mariott, and Structure follows on June 25th in San Francisco.  The conferences are complimentary: Structure discusses what is changing… read more

Disaster Technology for Myanmar/Burma aid workers

May 08 2008

There is an ongoing crisis in Myanmar (Burma) in the aftermath of cyclone Nargis. The ruling military junta is finally allowing humanitarian organizations into the region after denying access for almost a week. The situation is grim, and you can help by donating to organizations like: Doctors without Borders, Direct… read more

You Become what You Disrupt - (part two)

April 14 2008

Google's GrandCentral (Radar coverage) was down over the weekend resulting in missed calls and other phone problems for its users. This is very similar to the the two day Skype outage last year where I said that "You Become what You Disrupt". I've spoken about this issue several times, most… read more

Velocity preview at Web2.0 Expo

April 11 2008

At the Web2.0 Expo this month we have a small preview of some of the topics and speakers at the Velocity Web Performance & Operations conference.  (Radar readers get a 20% discount by using "vel08js" as a discount code... and yes it works with the $300 early registration discount!). Failure… read more

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Webcast: The Best of Velocity - Choose Your Own Adventure 2: Electric Boogaloo
May 22, 2012
Highlights from this talk by Jesse Robbins and Adam Jacob talk include how marketing works, The No A**holes rule, Things that should be automated, Sysadmins, Devops and more.

"As you embark on managing your company’s web site and applications, this book can be your guide. Although DBAs perform many similar tasks (monitoring, backup, designing for scalability, etc.), the details are decidedly different for web operations. If you’re charged with managing web operations for your company, use this book to help guide you through the morass."
--Craig S. Mullins, Data and Technology Today