Photograph of Apollo 13 mission control celebration
Successful missions are not engineered, they are run. (Source:

Presenting Controlled Chaos: Taming Organic, Federated Growth of Microservices at QCon SF 2019

I’m excited to be delivering my presentation, “Controlled Chaos: Taming Organic, Federated Growth of Microservices” at QCon San Francisco 2019 on November 12.

In this talk, I focus on the relentless growth of services we’re experiencing across industries, how it leads to an organically evolving landscape of connected services, as well as the challenges that such service landscapes present to architects and operators.

I show how failure in service landscapes is overwhelmingly not due to defects in individual threads of execution but due to the disruptive, environmental behaviors that such service landscapes exhibit. I then explore how visibility and control of the surrounding environment become more important than the observability of individual hosts, requests or traces.

Finally, I discuss how the unpredictable nature of these behaviors necessitates a shift to monitor and control these dynamic systems in real-time from both an operational and security perspective by applying best-practice operational patterns such as bulkheads, backpressure and quarantines.

In a nutshell, there will be two insights I’ll want folks to walk with:

  1. Service landscapes genuinely represent a new paradigm. This is in contrast to distributed systems engineering, which is not only slow and expensive but also involves the waterfall practice of big design up-front.

  2. Failures in service landscapes are overwhelmingly due to complex and disruptive environmental behaviors, not individual threads of execution. These environmental behaviors are fundamentally unpredictable, which necessitates an entirely different, “mission control” mindset when it comes to operating such landscapes.

You can learn more by checking out my interview with QCon here.