It is important to examine the long latency tails of systems, even when they appear fast (I take this seriously even when on vacation).

+Luiz André Barroso and I wrote an article called "The Tail at Scale" about managing latency variability in large-scale distributed systems.  The article was just published in this month's CACM:

http://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2013/2/160173-the-tail-at-scale/fulltext
http://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2013/2/160173-the-tail-at-scale/pdf
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