Velocity Profile: Kate Matsudaira

Web ops and performance questions with Kate Matsudaira.

This is part of the Velocity Profiles series, which highlights the work and knowledge of web ops and performance experts.

Kate MatsudairaKate Matsudaira
VP Engineering
Decide.com
@katemats

How did you get into web operations and performance?

I started working as a software engineer, and being at Amazon working on the internals of the retail website it was almost impossible not to have some exposure to pager duty and operations. As my career progressed and I moved into leadership roles on teams working on 24/7 websites, typically spanning hundreds of servers (and now instances), it was necessary to understand operations and performance.

What was your most memorable project?

Memorable can be two things, really good or really bad. Right now I am excited about the work we have been doing on Decide.com to make our website super fast and work well across devices (and all the data mining and machine learning is also really interesting).

As for really bad, though, there was a launch almost a decade ago where we implemented an analytics datastore on top of a relational database instead of something like map/reduce. If only Hadoop and all the other great data technologies were around and prevalent back then!

What’s the toughest problem you’ve had to solve?

Building an index of all the links on the web (a link search engine, basically) in one year with less than $1 million, including the team.

What tools and techniques do you rely on most?

Tools: pick the best one for the job at hand. Techniques: take the time to slow down before making snap judgements.

Who do you follow in the web operations and performance world?

Artur Bergman, Cliff Moon, Ben Black, John Allspaw, Rob Treat, and Theo Schlossnagle.

What is your web operations and performance super power?

Software architecture. You have to design your applications to be operational.

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