Urs Holzle

Senior Vice President, Operations, Google

Speed Matters
27 minutes, 12.6mb, recorded 2010-06-23
Urs Hölzle

Speed should be feature #1 on any website.  In this talk from the 2010 O'Reilly Velocity Conference, Urs Holzle of Google lists some of ways that individual websites and the public Internet can be significantly sped up with minor tweaks.  

The protocols that the Internet runs on, like TCP, have held up remarkably well over time but were not designed for the high speed networks we have today. Research projects at Google have found how simple, unobtrusive changes to these protocols can noticeably speed up web sites. Other incremental improvements in things like DNS, header caching, and SSL add up to improvements of 50% or more.

Google has several other projects to speed up the Internet experience for regular users. Their Chrome browser is one of the fastest and they have shared that technology by open sourcing parts of its technology. They host a fast public DNS server that anyone can use. They also have several tools for web developers to diagnose and improve speed problems on their websites. They do all of this because users enjoy and spend more time and money on fast websites.


Urs Hölzle served as the Google's first vice president of engineering and led the development of Google’s technical infrastructure. His current responsibilities include the design and operation of the servers, networks and datacenters that power Google. He is also renowned for both his red socks and his free-range Leonberger, Yoshka (Google’s top dog). Urs joined Google from the University of California, Santa Barbara where he was an associate professor of computer science. He received a master’s degree in computer science from ETH Zurich in 1988 and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship that same year. In 1994, he earned a Ph.D. from Stanford University, where his research focused on programming languages and their efficient implementation.

As one of the pioneers of dynamic compilation, also known as “just-in-time compilation,” Urs invented fundamental techniques used in most of today’s leading Java compilers. Before joining Google, Urs was a co-founder of Animorphic Systems, which developed compilers for Smalltalk and Java. After Sun Microsystems acquired Animorphic Systems in 1997, he helped build Javasoft’s high-performance Hotspot Java compiler.

In 1996, Urs received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation for his work on high-performance implementations of object-oriented languages. He was also a leading contributor to DARPA’s National Compiler Infrastructure project. Urs has served on program committees for major conferences in the field of programming language implementation, and is the author of numerous scientific papers and U.S. patents.


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