The Tortoise and the Twitter

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

The Slowsky commercials Comcastic runs to sell their Internet services are not as funny to us now as they once were. Twitter. Is. Slow. We are painfully aware. The slowness is being caused by massive popularity which makes for a bittersweet type of situation. We thought we’d let you know what we’re doing to make things more sweet than bitter.

We did some forensic analysis of our slowness and discovered that API traffic, specifically, XML over our API is HUGE. Really, just totally out of wack. So today, we’re separating that traffic from normal web traffic with the goal of caching a whole bunch of the API stuff to make the site snappier. In addition, we are increasing machine power and storage to accommodate our continued growth. However, this will only get us so far.

The short time span between side project and complex scaling challenge caught up with us after our successful sxsw experiment. It was really good timing that our two new full time engineers both arrived at Obvious HQ this week. Beyond that, we have secret weapons in the form of former colleagues who are quite well versed in scaling challenges. Lucky for us, one colleague in particular finds himself in a position to spend time helping us solve this puzzle. Having an extra desk in the office is coming in very handy this week.

Finally, we are thinking big about the future of Twitter with regard to architecture and we’re not holding back. We’ll have more news about that as we move forward with our plans. Right now, we are digging in and making the site snappy. I’ll happily note that while the web part of Twitter has been taking it’s sweet time slowsky-style, the SMS part has been humming right along at an increasingly swift hare-like pace.