Building Blocks of Distributed Systems

Friday, 31 August, 2018 - 09:0012:40

John Looney, Facebook

Space is limited: add this to your schedule if you plan to attend.


All distributed systems make tradeoffs and compromises. Different designs behave very differently with respect to cost, performance, and how they behave under failure conditions.

It's important to understand the tradeoffs that the building blocks in your systems make, and the implications this has for your system as a whole. In this workshop we'll look at several examples of different real-world distributed systems and discuss their strengths and shortcomings.

This workshop will include some practical elements. You will be given some system designs to read and to evaluate, and then we'll discuss the implications of each design together as a group.

John Looney, Facebook

John Looney is a Production Engineer in Intercom, improving datacenter automation. Previously, he helped build a modern SaaS-based infrastructure platform for Intercom, one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the world. Before that, he was a full-stack SRE at Google, who did everything from rack design and data-center automation through ads-serving, stopping at GFS, Borg, and Colossus along the way. He wrote chapters for The SRE Book and Seeking SRE, and is on the steering committee for USENIX SRECon.

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@inproceedings {218853,
author = {John Looney},
title = {Building Blocks of Distributed Systems},
booktitle = {SREcon18 Europe/Middle East/Africa (SREcon18 Europe)},
year = {2018},
address = {Dusseldorf},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug