James Governor's Monkchips

Twitter is going to scale, Twitter is going to scale. w00t!

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I followed this delicious link from Stephen about kilt and performance maven Ben Rockwood giving props to Ian Murdock. I am glad Murdock passed the sporran test but I came away with a completely different take on the post.

It turns out Bryan Cantrill has been involved in some behind the scenes scaling work at Joyent, which is hosting Twitter.

According to Ben (here comes the good bit):

“In a really wonderful move, today Jason Hoffman and I from Joyent, with Ian Murdock and Bryan Cantrill from Sun, met with Jeremy LaTrasse of Obvious who run Twitter on Joyent Accelerator’s (OpenSolaris Containers). The purpose was to sit down and really analyze performance in Ruby, Rails, and Mongrel to find big performance wins and better improve scalability of the biggest Ruby on Rails application known to exist. The meeting was a great success in a variety of ways, but I’ll avoid divulging technical details that might get me in trouble… needless to say, Bryan Cantrill is the man.”

Who is Brian? He is just some fast-talking, Economist obituary reading, dumbass who happens to be the guy behind DTrace, one of the most powerful instrumentation, performance optimisation and troubleshooting platforms ever developed, period. DTrace is one of the reasons Solaris is back in the game. When the Wall Street Journal starts giving props to an instrumentation technology you know its some serious business.

Mucho respect to David Heinemeier Hannson but Cantrill is a different breed. He is really really deep into performance. As Ryan points out frameworks don’t solve scalability problems, design solves scalability problems. Which is where Cantrill comes in.

Maybe I put too much faith in Bryan but I expect Twitter to have plenty more headroom in the near future. If he can’t help work it out we’re all screwed.

Finally it strikes me we may be about to see something entirely new in the industry. Twitter is emerging as a core lightweight Web infrastructure but unlike earlier Web companies isn’t buying and building out its own infrastructure. Twitter is a hosted architecture of participation. Unlike first web wave companies, Google as poster child, this is On Demand purchasing.

Note to Sun competitors: what if Jonathan and Greg are right?

  • disclosure: I am a Twitter user. Sun is a client. Stephen and me are unabashed Cantrill fanboys.



    1. I could have sworn Twitter’s performance got a lot better shortly after Jonathan’s post http://blogs.sun.com/jonathan/entry/what_service_means_to_me
      Twitter has been very snappy for the last few days, for me; at least in comparison to the previous month or so.

      I think it’s somewhat of a bad sign that Bryan had to be pulled in; there are only so many Bryan’s in the universe to fix everyone’s performance problems. We need to teach more people to fish, or something.

    2. @ Patrick, it’s incorrect to say “had to be pulled in”, Bryan’s a great solaris advocate and friend, and any excuse to hang out with him on a Sunday is welcomed.

      You can read a bit more about it at http://joyeur.com/2007/04/24/solaris-dtrace-and-rails

    3. The question is not whether Jonathan and Greg are right but if they have timed it right and will execute it right i.e., will they see the new businesses pick up the slack faster than the decline in old ways. I wrote a post recently that Sun may be successfully turning around but the next year or so will be critical.

    4. Ping from The Unofficial Twitter Community and Forums


    5. […] James Governor’s Monkchips » Twitter is going to scale, Twitter is going to scale. w00t! Apr 2007 (tags: rails scaling) […]

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