CMG member Cary Milsap has published his book, Faster: How to Optimize a System, to help others with one of a technologists most challenging problems. Join us February 24th to hear from Cary and learn more!
Making things faster is about making things better. Making life better. The faster your tools can work, the more time you have for doing the things you want to be doing. If your tools help you process information, then the faster they work, the better decisions you can make.
Optimizing—whether a computer, or a plow, or anything in between—requires two separate skill sets: one, asking the right questions; and two, of course, answering those questions. Most people who think about optimizing are well aware of this second skill set. Fewer seem aware of the first one. But this first one—the mere act of asking the right questions—is the skill you need to develop first, especially if you’re a leader. You might be surprised at how quickly you’ll be able to learn it.
There’s a problem, though. The questions I’ll teach you to ask are simple. But anyone who’s ever met an inquisitive child knows that simple questions aren’t always easy to answer. For example, the people who look after your company’s computer may know exactly what the system’s CPU utilization looks like at 2:00 p.m. on a given Friday, but they may not be able to answer how long it takes a clerk to enter an order. There’s a mismatch between the answers they’ll want to give and the questions you’ll want to ask. This mismatch itself hides opportunities to make things faster. I’ll teach you how to find them.
Optimizing is often more political than technical. It’s curious, then, that books about optimizing are almost always only technical. It’s easy for technical people to regard the non-technical elements of a project as unnecessary and maybe even ridiculous disruptions. But the fact is, the non-technical aspects of optimizing require understanding and effort, just like the technical aspects do. To optimize something, sometimes you have to confront the monsters created by panic and fear, in addition to being productive technically. A strong track record of successes will help you win debates about what to do next, but you’ll never be able to create that track record without exercising some political savvy.
My goal with this book is to help you improve both kinds of skills: the asking and the answering, the political and the technical. The payoff potential is huge. When you understand both the science of performance and the art of navigating the desires and emotions of the people who care about it, then you can optimize anything.
Cary Millsap spent the 1990s learning a lifetime’s worth of lessons about software performance as a consultant for Oracle Corporation. In his ten years at Oracle, he personally helped over a hundred customers, and he created an elite 85-person team who have helped hundreds more.
Cary left Oracle in 1999 to start a family and a new company. He spent the next two decades teaching, consulting, writing software, and being there for some of the best baseball and volleyball games ever played.
In three decades, he has educated thousands of IT professionals through his commitment to writing, teaching, and speaking at public events. His new book, Faster: How to Optimize a System, is for anybody who is curious about performance and how to improve it.