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How PerfOps revolutionized performance at Marks & Spencer

Apr 5, 2016 · Greater London, United Kingdom

Tickets onsale from 09:00am Tuesday 22nd March

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2014 was the first year that Andy Neilson, performance lead at Marks & Spencer, attended Velocity. It was a watershed event. Inspired by what he learned at Velocity, Andy has used it to help shape performance at M&S. In this talk, Andy shares M&S’s performance journey, what they learned along the way, and where they plan to go from here.

In the spring of 2014, some key things happened after marksandspencer.com launched on a new platform, to be managed in-house after years being hosted on Amazon. After launch, the company began a transition to agile delivery and Andy was asked to lead the performance team with the remit to “shape it."

With no background in performance, Andy focused on what was already in place, focusing on back-end and infrastructure performance… a continuation of the old ways of working. But once that work was completed in September 2014, he had two new questions on his mind:

• What does performance really mean for M&S.com?

• How to move away from traditional performance testing/engineering to align with an agile methodology?

These questions led to Velocity Barcelona, where Andy realised that his ideas aligned with what people were saying at the conference. He came away with the confidence to proceed, knowing that there were huge opportunities for performance wins.

In the following 18 months, his team created a PerfOps framework, and kicked off a number of initiatives to bring it to life. These initiatives included: 

• Defining performance (business) transactions — a new way of documenting NFR in a non-technical, business-focused language to educate and to encourage adoption.

• Reviewing the full end-to-end journey — front end and back end — something that was missing because front-end measurements were not being captured.

• Identifying tools for testing page speed and measuring performance budgets in the delivery sprints.

• Automated performance testing of back-end transactions using the DevOps build pipeline within sprints to give early visibility of transaction speed degradation.

• Live monitoring — implementing a RUM tool to provide real-time visibility of our customers’ experience, and better use our synthetic toolset to complement each other.

• Structured forums with product owners and stakeholders to communicate/discuss facts and feedback from live monitoring and tests. This provides the PerfOps team with a means to ensure that performance optimisations get on the backlog for products, and are prioritised. 


Andrew Neilson </a><a href="https://twitter.com/andyjneilson73">@andyjneilson73 @mandsdigital

Andrew Neilson is currently head of PerfOps at Marks and Spencer and is responsible for performance across the breadth of the M&S.com business. Andrew has been part of M&S.com for five years and responsible for performance since March 2014. The PerfOps team has evolved from a traditional Performance Engineering team, to adapt to agile ways of working and to manage performance risk and optimisation of the live site. All their new initiatives were inspired from Velocity 2014 and vendor relationships as part of Andrew’s research to define what performance means for M&S.com



What time should I arrive?

• Entry to the meetup is from 18:15 to 18:45. The Registration desk is located in the main lobby/reception of the FT building which is on the 2nd floor (entrance is directly off Southwark Bridge). Security will escort arrivals in groups to the conference suite on the 6th floor.

• Beer and pizzas will be served up at approx. 20:15 and the meetup will end at 22:00 and all attendees must exit the building by 22:30.

Why have you started charging for your meetup events?

• We are charging a nominal £5 entry for our meetup events primarily to reduce the very high level 'no shows' that we have had in the past. This is very frustrating for those that really want to go but end up not being able to attend as all the spots have been taken.The 'waitlist' concept relies on 'no shows' actually releasing their space, and we find that this just doesn't happen. 'No shows' also cause difficulties for us in terms of food and drink provision and event checkin/security.

• All food and drink is provided due the generosity of our sponsors and the entry fee's are used towards the general operation of the group. As we are a non-profit making community association, any annual surplus from both sponsorship and attendance fees will be donated to IT related charities.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

• Yes - It really helps us if you can bring your Eventbrite paper or online ticket (containing the QR code) to the checkin desk at the event.

What is the refund policy?

• In the event of the event being cancelled by the organisers, then a full refund will be made. No other refunds will be made under any circumstances. You can transfer you ticket to someone else via Eventbrite.

The name on the registration/ticket doesn't match the attendee. Is that okay?

• As we are using corporate facilities to host the meetup, security will perform a name check at check-in so its much easier if for everyone if you purchase your ticket in the correct name.

Are there ID requirements or an age limit to enter the event?

• ID will be required if you are not the named ticket holder. Our group sponsors provide alcholic drinks during the meetup session so you have to be over 18 to benefit from those.

Click here to register and purchase ticket

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