Nic Benders has been making his living pushing packets for more than 20 years now. Over the decades he has worked on a control network for a radio telescope, built an online auction system in Ada, accidentally brought down a major U.S. carrier’s Internet connection, and lived through many other misadventures. As part of New Relic’s engineering team he is focused on the relentless technical and organizational challenges of scaling a successful SaaS company.

We explored Nic’s background a little more and delved into what he’ll be discussing at FutureStack15. Nic and his co-presenter Matthew Flaming (also a New Relic director of engineering) plan to present actionable insights drawn from their own hard-won experiences helping to grow New Relic. FutureStack15 will be held in San Francisco, November 11-13, 2015.

New Relic: How did you become a data nerd?

Nic BendersNic Benders: Well, I’ve always been a “nerd,” at least as long as I can remember. If you see a picture of me as a kid, I’ll be sporting some science t-shirt and building contraptions out of cardboard. When I got older, the cardboard became BASIC and then Unix systems. The t-shirts stayed pretty much the same.

As far as the “data” part goes, it wasn’t really until the early 2000s that I fell in love there. I was working at an early SaaS company, providing Web-based services for mobile carriers, and things were starting to scale. The problem was, they weren’t scaling well. I spent a long time picking the wrong fights before I realized that “gut” isn’t going to get the job done at that scale—you need to have real numbers. Once I got started, I discovered that you could improve nearly anything if you could find a way to measure it. I was hooked.

New Relic: Why were you interested in speaking at FutureStack15?

Nic: I spoke at FutureStack13 and it was a great experience. The other speakers were intimidatingly awesome, and I learned a ton just chatting with attendees. So I’m excited to come back and speak again this year.

New Relic: What are the topics you’re planning to address in your talk?

Nic: This year I’ll be speaking alongside the inimitable Matthew Flaming. Our talk title is “Building a System That Never Stops: New Relic at Scale.”

I hate going to technical conferences and hearing a bunch of hand-wavy BS about how great some piece of unreleased software that I can’t use is, or how the key to success is to just stop writing bugs and be awesome instead (although that’s true). Matthew and I are going to try to take some of our hard-won experience from building, growing, and rebuilding New Relic over the last few years and give it to people in a way that they can take back with them and use right away.

The particular focus this year will be on some of the radical things that we’ve done incrementally, but there will also be plenty of little technical details along the way. For instance !!! SPOILER ALERT !!! khugepaged is the devil and you should disable it everywhere !!! END SPOILER !!!

Don’t miss Nic Benders and the rest of our stellar lineup of speakers at FutureStack15 at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel, taking place November 11 through 13. Register by November 5 and save $600! 

FutureStack15 promo


See also: 
FutureStack15 Speaker Spotlight: Capital One’s Gill Haus
FutureStack15 Speaker Spotlight: New Relic’s Dana Lawson


Note: Event dates, speakers, and schedules are subject to change without notice.

Golden Gate Bridge image courtesy of'

Jake Widman is a San Francisco-based freelance technology and science writer, covering everything from big data to quantum physics. He's a regular contributor to Computerworld,, and Photoshop User. View posts by .

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