Still More Downtime Drama For Twitter

When it comes to downtime, there’s no place to hide these days. The Internet notices when a popular web site experiences outages or performance problems, and in recent days the blogs have been noticing (again) the seemingly endless scalability problems at Twitter. Rather than a full-blown outage, the microblogging service has been mysteriously dropping tweets, which brought commentary from popular bloggers wondering what happened to their 140-character messages. Twitter’s Biz Stone blamed the problems on the deployment of a new Memcached implementation.

The drama has now focused on the departure of Blaine Cook, the lead architect at Twitter. Cook’s exit has quickly become a hot topic at TechCrunch and Valleywag.

“I can’t think of a more pressure packed job than being responsible for the scaling of Twitter, a service that has continuously struggled to keep up with its growing user base,” wrote Adam Ostrow at Mashable, who wondered aloud if Cook was being scapegoated.

Keep in mind that there many folks (including us) who wondered whether Joyent was part of Twitter’s problem. But Twitter stopped using Joyent’s services in January, and the performance problems have persisted.

This week Twitter hired a new architect and web engineer. Looking ahead, Bob Warfield at Smoothspan emphasized that Twitter has yet another chance to establish stability. “What follows next is important,” Bob writes. “The new gang has a limited window in which to fix the problem. This won’t be easy. Fixing deep architecture issues on a live system that can’t keep up is one of those nightmare scenarios that’s painful beyond belief.”

UPDATE: Silicon Alley Insider now reports that Lee Mighdoll, who was brought on in early January as Twitter’s VP of engineering and operations, is also out.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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