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21 top performance engineering leaders to follow on Twitter

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Matthew Heusser Managing Consultant, Excelon Development
 

It's a strange time. We work from home. Political messages have invaded our social media. Layoffs over here, bailouts over there. Yet many of us still spend most of our days in front of a screen, writing software and helping improve it.

The holiday shopping season is just around the corner. Performance problems could mean exponential cloud compute costs at best, downtime and failed orders at worst. Meanwhile, standards for performance have gone up. 

And while people expect more uptime than ever, performance testing remains a mystical art. The few public examples of performance testing are likely not using the same technology stack that you are, or they're using tools that are not available to you. The best performance strategies are engineering strategies developed through conversation. As you transition from performance testing to performance engineering, Twitter can be a good place to have those conversations. 

Here are 21 performance engineering leaders to follow on Twitter. The list is limited to people who are currently posting or in conversation about performance engineering techniques and best practices, and is presented in alphabetical order. My biggest finding: How the interesting conversations may be moving from #performancetesting to #devops.

Andrey Adamovich

CEO, Aestas IT

@codingandrey

"Automate all the things" may be cliché, but it isn't quite truth. Actually, automating things turns out to be a little harder than most people realize, especially if any decisions are involved. Adamovich's "Extreme Automation" workshops are designed to help organizations realize what is possible—and how to get there. His Twitter feed extends those ideas, and the price is certainly right.

John Allspaw

Cofounder, Adaptive Capacity Labs

@allspaw

The former senior vice president of infrastructure at Etsy and, before that, engineering manager at Flickr, Allspaw was at the forefront of what today we call continuous delivery and DevOps. Go back far enough and you see Allspaw at Friendster, helping create the infrastructure for what we now call social media.

Paul Bruce

Director of customer engineering, Neotys

@paulsbruce

A longtime consultant and contractor brought in to finish up high-end projects, Bruce has the rare combination of the experience, or "chops," of a doer and the ability to speak the language of executives and customers. Currently in an employee role, he's good to follow to read about observability, load, API development, and testing. 

Joe Colantonio

Founder, Test Guild

@joecolantonio

After 23 years in software quality and performance, Colantonio left his test leadership role at GE Healthcare to take his little startup, The Test Guild, full time. As the organizer of a series of online testing conferences, including one on software performance testing, Colantonio has his ear to the ground about the latest in innovations, along with new and upcoming voices. He is one to follow.

Marie Drake

Principal test automation engineer, NewsUK

@mcruzdrake

Drake looks at performance from a traditional test perspective: from accessibility to usability to client-side performance. That includes testability. She also promotes the software testing community from a distinctly UK perspective, which has a slightly different focus and color than performance engineering in the United States. 

Liz Fong-Jones

Principal developer advocate, Honeycomb.io

@lizthegrey

After 11 years at Google, this MIT and Caltech alumna went on to help take Honeycomb from startup to emerging leader. Her tweets demonstrate a rare understanding of the modern software delivery stack and how to optimize it. Check out the Twitter message below—the entire thread. It is rare for performance engineers or SREs to publish their work in such a clear, free, accessible way—with data!

Andreas Grabner

DevOps activist, Dynatrace

@grabnerandi

A few years ago, Grabner made a bet: On business trips for conferences around the world, if he was in your city and you spent an hour working with his custom analysis software, he would give you system performance information (finding, fixing, or both) that you could use. Today, he mostly posts links to webinars or quick summaries of presentations. Follow him to learn how DevOps is intersecting with performance testing, to make performance test results relevant and continuous.

Kelsey Hightower

Staff developer advocate, Google

@kelseyhightower

From podcasting to configuration woes, Hightower's Twitter stream is the story of performance engineering in the micro—along with retweets about systems and performance, and podcast recommendations of the same. Listen carefully and get the occasional insight into work at Google as well.

Mike Lyles

Director of QA and project management, Bridgetree

@mikelyles 

As the late Jerry Weinberg put it so well, software problems are always people problems. Lyles gets past buzzwords to focus on people, incentives, personalities and teams—without losing track of the little guy. As easy as it is to get wrapped up in the people conflict, Lyles also shows you how to keep your eye on the ball.

Charity Majors

Cofounder/CTO, Honeycomb.io

@mipsytipsy

For this co-author of Database Reliability Engineering, a focus at Honeycomb is making the internal state of the application available in real time. Not just what went wrong and when, but why.

Rob Meaney

Head of testing, Glowfox

@RobMeaney

One topic that doesn't come up much is testability—how to design software so it can be tested and observed. Meaney's tweets cover this area, including visualizations to help explain it.

Leandro Melendez

Performance manager, Qualitest

@srperf

Going by his nickname Señor Performo, Melendez is a consultant known for performance testing project rescues, along with his blog and what may be the only native Spanish-speaking podcast about performance testing. Follow Melendez for the latest information on online events in testing, the latest publications, and a contrarian view of quality focused on improving delivery speed that yields quality and better performance.

Ministry of Testing

A testing training group

@ministryoftest

Known for its inclusive "social club" feel, the Ministry of Testing hosts conferences, meetups, and social media activity designed to advance the test community. The Twitter stream is a mix of questions designed to elicit conversation and promotion of events and people—not all related to the Ministry of Test.

Read this to find questioning thinkers and engage with them. The conversations flow from more of a beginner's mind, and less of an on-high question and answer. Given the amount of context that is missing from a tweet, that seems like a good place to start.

Scott Moore

President, Scott Moore Consulting LLC

@loadtester

One of the more colorful independent consultants in performance, Moore has put a great deal of his thoughts down via his YouTube channel, which includes his 2020 performance test tour. Concluded just before the pandemic hit the United States, Scott's "Performance and Barbeque" tour, with James Pulley along for the ride, is a bit like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, but for software performance engineering.

News of the Damned

Hosted by the PerfBytes podcast

@newsofthedamned

I once got a raise by sharing a story from The Wall Street Journal about a systems failure, and pointing out to the customer my job was invisible—to prevent those stories. A regular segment on PerfBytes, News of the Damned includes information about what went down and why. The Twitter feed focuses on these micro-stories, with citations and links to more information. 

Alex Poldeko

Staff performance engineer, MongoDB

@apodelko

If you want just pure talk about performance, along with links to current issues, you can't go wrong with Poldeko. A quiet, soft-spoken member of the test community, he is active in test meetups and conferences, where he is known to synthesize the ideas of the speakers with his current work as an active performance and capacity engineer. Poldeko's particular expertise is building systems that are scalable, such as a database or web server cluster.

Alan Richardson

Independent test consultant

@eviltester

With a nickname like Evil Tester, you can expect Richardson to tweet interesting ways to break running applications, and you won't be disappointed. A few years ago, he ran a tutorial on nontraditional tools to simulate load, activities, internationalization, security, and link checking at Agile Testing Days. Richardson also has deep experience with Selenium and other browser-driving tools. He wrote the book Java for Testers and created a set of online courses.

Tess Rinearson

Vice president of engineering, Interchain

@_tessr

Rinearson tweets about solving large-scale, distributed engineering problems, typically those involving data crunching. She may be best known for her Medium article explaining how bitcoin and blockchain work. While the 101-level understanding is easy, going beyond tends to require a PhD in tech security, computer science, or both. Her explanations take mere mortals to that 201 level, without causing a migraine. Once she finished with blockchain, she got to work on the rest of distributed computing. 

Ben Simo

Principal test engineer, Medidata Solutions

@QualityFrog

Simo describes himself as an amphibious, time-traveling, context-driven software investigator. I might say that means he can do multiple things, that every project matters, that he uses testing as a means to figure out the status of the software and … it's not clear how he does the time traveling bit yet. Perhaps best known for stumbling all over problems ("Is there a problem here?") his most well-known stumbling might have been when he breached the Healthcare.gov website, which resulted in both congressional testimony and a CAST 2014 keynote for Simo. 

Ruggero Tonelli

Head of platforms, Netquest

@ruggerotonelli

Focusing on open-source cluster management, Tonelli dives into Kubernetes, Docker, Telemetry, observability, and monitoring. Straight, hard technical information here, along with curation of the best of the material on the web.  

Twitter SRE

The account for Twitter site reliability engineering

@twitterSRE

When it comes to web-scale performance, TwitterSRE is one to include. The application itself scaled from a Ruby on Rails app with frequent outages to become a reliable massively distributed application. A software reliability engineer (SRE) is critical to keeping the site up, and the handle tells you how they do it, along with more than a few posts for job openings, of course.

While this list of performance engineering is far from complete, that is about the limit of the modern attention span. Who would you add to the list? Tweet me at @mheusser, and tell me who you'd like to see included in a future edition of this list. 

Disclosure: Matthew Heusser works at Excelon Development, which has done work for every major software test vendor and publisher, many smaller ones, and several consulting and staffing firms. He was not compensated by anyone on this list; his opinions here are his own.

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