It’s a problem every successful software organization faces at some point: how to evolve systems under load to meet growing demands and changing requirements, without dropping data or causing service interruptions.

It turns out that this is something New Relic has a lot of experience with. On the data side, from our humble beginnings we now accept more than 16 million requests and power more than 3 billion queries … every minute. And on the organizational side, the New Relic Software Analytics Cloud now contains more than 200 different services, accessing more then 2.5 petabytes of SSD storage—all built and maintained by more than 25 different engineering teams.

new relic software analytics cloud stats: from futurestack presentation

That kind of growth took a lot of doing, so Engineering VP Matthew Flaming and Chief Architect and VP of Engineering Nic Benders were excited to share some of the lessons we learned along the way. We want to help other fast-growing software companies avoid having to learn them the way we did—the hard way.

Nic and Matthew go into deep technical detail in their presentation (watch the video below) but here’s a quick outline of what we learned: 

matthew flaming and nic benders at futurestack

The New Relic Lesson Plan

Lesson 1: NOTHING lasts forever—Don’t get cocky; attachment to existing processes can get in the way of critical thinking (timecode 6:18).

Lesson 2: Run EXPERIMENTS—We pride ourselves on having a culture of experimentation, even though experiments don’t always work (7:16).

Lesson 3: SYNCHRONOUS CALLS are going to be a problem—Sometimes, the issue isn’t that you don’t have enough databases (9:32).

Lesson 4: Master the ROLLOUT—From “incremental rollouts” to “dark deploys,” the most important part of your technology may be how it is delivered (14:27).

Lesson 5: NEW TECH = NEW CHALLENGES—But also new opportunities (17:27).

Lesson 6: Use the right WORKLOAD DISTRIBUTION—Active management vs. Random (19:22).

Lesson 7: Technology enables CULTURE—A tool can be more than just a way to connect components; for example, it can also change the way your business works (22:22).

Lesson 8: Software Architecture: THE BIG PICTURE—Organic growth eventually leads to a breaking point, which requires a paradigm shift (23:36).

You can see all available FutureStack15 presentation videos, including the keynotes, at our FutureStack15 YouTube playlist. We’ll be adding more in the coming days and weeks, so subscribe now!


Top photo: © Andrew Weeks Photography.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in these presentations are those of the respective speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of New Relic. By providing access to these presentations, New Relic does not adopt, guarantee, approve or endorse the information, views or products discussed therein. The respective presentation speakers have given permission to New Relic to post the content they presented onstage.'

Fredric Paul (aka The Freditor) is Editor in Chief for New Relic. He's an award-winning writer, editor, and content strategist who has held senior editorial positions at ReadWrite,, InformationWeek, CNET, Electronic Entertainment, PC World, and PC|Computing. His writing has appeared in MIT Technology Review, Omni, Conde Nast Traveler, and Newsweek, among other places. View posts by .

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