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Bryan Cantrill Videos

Feb 27, 2015

Ever since seeing the DTrace introduction video done by Bryan Cantrill I loved his presentation style. Bryan is obviously a very smart technologist and overflowing with idea’s (or at least, that is how he comes across to me). Watching that DTrace video, it looks like his mind wants to say all these insightful things, his ability to speak barely keeping up with the flow.

So over the years I kept track of his presentations, and luckily Bryan has worked on some very inspirational software throughout the years as the CTO of What astonishes me is that so few people have seen either the work Joyent has done (SmartOS, SDC, Mantra, etc) or Bryan’s presentations. Apropos of conversations I have with others in the field, I usually end up sending them a link to one or two videos (whatever feels relevant). This happened now so often that this post subjectively aggregates the most important ones.

DTrace introduction (2007)

As mentioned, this was the first presentation I ever saw done by Bryan. In here is presents his work at Sun developing DTrace. DTrace is a dynamic tracing framework that is safe to use in a production environment. It also spans across both Kernel and User space in your operating system (such as Solaris, SmartOS or even Mac OS!). In the video Bryan comes across as a bit of a virtuoso and even doing ad-hoc demo’s that clearly have not been prepared but work out fantastically.

Over at Sun they implemented baracuda storage appliances and used DTrace to provide high resolution real time metrics. This, to a hilarious effect, allows you to measure the latency impact of shouting at a disk array in an already noisy data center:

Scaling Organisations (2013)

As you will see in the other video’s Bryan knows his technology stuff, but in this video he demonstrates acute awareness of a more organizational perspective. He deftly summarizes which elements are important for building a world class organisation.

Introducing Manta (2014)

Manta is an object storage technology from Joyent. Whereas technologies such as Hadoop are very large and complicated frameworks, Manta adheres to the Unix philosophy (small programs that do one thing well, then compose them together to solve the problem at hand). Manta allows you to use the Unix/Linux tool set you know already. Thanks to SmartOS Zones, your scripts will run on the hardware where the data is located (bringing compute to your Big Data is much easier than vice versa). Thanks to ZFS you can get exactly the data you need, and once you are done it will be restored to the point before you started. Very impressive.

Second video that dives deeper in the Unix philosophy and how it relates to SmartOS Zones/Manta:

Running Linux Containers on illumos kernels (such as SmartOS) (2014)

This video includes an awesome history lesson on how we got to today (2015), and how wasteful some of what we are seeing today really is (such as Amazon EC2). At the core of the presentation is the fact that you can now run Linux work loads on SmartOS, get all the benefits of secure multi tenancy, ZFS, DTrace, Zones, etc.

Corporate Open Source Anti-Patterns (2014)

Ever contemplated open sourcing a piece of technology from your corporation? This is a must watch video by Bryan that shows you which mistakes you should avoid making. That is to say, there is no known rule for making it successful but quite a few that will make your efforts doomed.


That is the current list. If you have more awesome videos done by Bryan, fire away in the comments please!

(I am still contemplating writing up key take home messages for each video, but that will require quite some more time. If you have done that for one of the video’s linked above, I will happily incorporate them into this post.)