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The Art of Capacity Planning--New from O'Reilly: Measure, deploy, and manage web application infrastructure

Press release: October 8, 2008

The Art of Capacity Planning Sebastopol, CA—Capacity planning has been around since ancient times, with roots in everything from economics to engineering. "In a basic sense, capacity planning is resource management," says author John Allspaw, manager of data operations for the world-famous photo-sharing site, now owned by Yahoo! "When resources are finite, and come at a cost, you need to do some capacity planning."

Because success on the web is measured by usage and growth, web-based companies live or die by the ability to scale their infrastructure to accommodate increasing demand. Allspaw's new book, The Art of Capacity Planning (O'Reilly, US $44,99) is a practical guide to planning for such growth, with many techniques and considerations to help you plan, deploy, and manage web application infrastructure.

"One of my frustrations as an operations engineering manager was not having somewhere to turn to help me figure out how much equipment we'd need to keep running. Existing books on the topic of computer capacity planning were focused on the mathematical theory of resource planning, rather than the practical implementation of the whole process," says Allspaw.

"What this book is about is practical capacity planning and management that can take place in the real world. It's about using real tools, and being able to adapt to changing usage on a website that will (hopefully) grow over time," Allspaw continues. "When you have a flat tire on the highway, you could spend a lot of time trying to figure out the cause, or you can get on with the obvious task of installing the spare and getting back on the road. This is the approach I'm presenting to capacity planning: adaptive, not theoretical."

In The Art of Capacity Planning, Allspaw combines personal anecdotes from many phases of Flickr's growth with insights from his colleagues in many other industries to give you solid guidelines for measuring your growth, predicting trends, and making cost-effective preparations.

Topics include:

  • Evaluating tools for measurement and deployment
  • Capacity analysis and prediction for storage, database, and application servers
  • Designing architectures to easily add and measure capacity
  • Handling sudden spikes
  • Predicting exponential and explosive growth
  • How cloud services such as EC2 can fit into a capacity strategy

Allspaw draws on years of valuable experience, starting from the days when Flickr was relatively small and had to deal with the typical growth pains and cost/performance trade-offs of a typical company with a Web presence. The advice he offers in The Art of Capacity Planning will not just help you prepare for explosive growth, it could possibly save you a lot of grief.

"John Allspaw's book is useful right out of the gate--an incredibly practical deep-dive into what makes the Web work. Whether you're learning about the procurement processes in your organization or the specific methods you need to plan successfully, this is a must-read for anyone who wants to know how to build the next Flickr," Chad Dickerson, CTO of Etsy, former CTO of and, and head of Yahoo! Developer Network and Brickhouse.

For a review copy or more information please email Please include your delivery address and contact information.

John Allspaw is currently Operations Engineering Manager at Flickr, the popular photo site. He has had extensive experience working with growing web sites since 1999. These include online news magazines (,, and social networking sites that experienced extreme growth (Friendster and Flickr).

Additional Resources:
For more information about the book, including table of contents, index, author bios, and cover graphic, see the catalog page for The Art of Capacity Planning.

The Art of Capacity Planning
John Allspaw
ISBN: 9780596518578, 152 pages, Book Price: $44.99 USD, £27.99 GBP
PDF Price: $35.99 USD

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