Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Only a couple of weeks ago...

I didn't realize I had posted only about a couple of weeks back. It seems a lot has happened in these two weeks.

Thanks to the success of some of our apps on Facebook, we ran into scaling issues the last few days. We went from one box setup to two and then to three very quickly. This was the one of those times when years of dealing with large scale problems at Amazon comes in handy. Above all, we were particularly pleased with the fact that our component based distributed system design allowed us to scale out with little headaches, and it gave us considerable flexibility in optimizing our systems.

Quite a few friends are now in the midst of their own startups, and when I share my lessons learned, I actually don't harp much on building scalable systems anymore. Product and monetization comes first, and I still believe if you need to build things to scale you'll be able to handle it. Just make sure you have the engineering talent for it. That said, if you are building applications on platforms like Facebook where, just maybe, your applications can ramp up to 100,000+ daily active users in a few days, you'd better plan for scaling upfront. I think, it would have been much more costly for us to scale had we not built our systems well the first time around. But even then, every such problem is unique, and you will have to handle new problems when you do run into scaling issues.

In the midst of this I managed to sneak away to Hawaii for a short trip. If you haven't been to the big island of Hawaii, I suggest you pack a bag and go. Snorkeling on the west side -- particularly the Cook monument -- was probably the best we've experienced in the state of Hawaii.

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