Scaling debate

I found it interesting that both Greg and Frank came to similar conclusions about Web 2.0 scaling problems (who both coincidentally where or are current tech leads for the Amazon recommendations backend).

I must admit, the first time I read DHH’s rant on five nines (99.999) I found it a bit amusing. No one at work thinks about five nines. It’s a ridiculously high standard to achieve. Our focus is on the three nines (99.9) and that is VERY challenging. Scaling certainly cuts into feature development. But anyone talking about five nines, leaves me the impression they probably don’t deal with or understand the scaling issues of a Google, Ebay or Amazon yet. Nothing wrong with that in-itself since Web 2.0 companies really haven’t had huge scaling issues yet.

That said, I do find Web 2.0 style message like “come back soon we’re updating systems” annoying. The outage this weekend made me think about looking for alternatives. I won’t be quick to move my bookmarks because it’s a pain. But as soon as you insert doubt in users, that’s bad. Now if where launching new features left and right, I might be more forgiving. But that certainly hasn’t been the case since I started using it over a year ago. So, outages stand out more.

This whole scaling debate and reactions to reminded me of an analogue from a recent Daily Show episode where General Richard Myers made a silly comment about Vietnam vets not “getting it” with regard to Iraq. McCain and Stewart’s responses are priceless (about half way in the video clip).


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