Texas Startup Blog: Web 2.0 and Social Media » Blog Archive » Twitter blaming Ruby on Rails for failures?

This is a very interesting article (to me anyway).  I’ve been spending a  huge amount of time and effort learning about scaling rapid-transaction web sites for a client.  You would think that this has been done so many times that by now it’s just drop dead easy.  Think again.  Writing a killer web application is the easiest thing about rolling out a distributed web service.  Getting the back-end “right” is really hard.

None of the existing databases come with anything similar to a WYSIWYG mechanism for building distributed databases (why not?).  You need to really know what you are doing – or you need to be able to afford someone that does.

Or you need to understand Amazon S3 really well (something I am looking into more now).

And I don’t think this is a Rails problem – it’s a deployment problem.  And it doesn’t seem to make much difference what the language is – it’s the distributed databases, the transactions, timing, geography, etc.

So – maybe THAT is what “Web 3.0” will be – taking the entire complexity of distributed databases, load-balancing, backups, redundancy, Geography, etc out of the equation.

Build a deployment platform that is WYSIWYG – THAT would be game-changing. 

In this case, it seems that Twitter requires more sophisticated ways of talking to many databases at the same time. Alex puts it a little black and white with “…there’s no facility in Rails to talk to more than one database at a time”, which isn’t really true, but it could definitely be done better. Last I spoke with Twitter, we discussed this and they sounded enthusiastic about being able to further this area of Rails. It’s disappointing to hear that they’ve forsaken that opportunity for an arms-crossed alternative.

In any case, I’m proud that Twitter is having to push the envelope on scaling Rails. Fielding 11,000+ requests per second is no small feat for any dynamic web application. Once the stress of having to deal with that in the moment subsides, I’m convinced that the team will grow beyond the blame game, get their hands dirty as full participants in an open source community, and contribute back their advances to the framework. We’ll all be richer for it.

Source: Texas Startup Blog: Web 2.0 and Social Media » Blog Archive » Twitter blaming Ruby on Rails for failures?


  1. Yuvi – good point about Geography. That’s exactly why Google and Microsoft are building datacenters all over the world. It’s also why I chose Rackspace as the host for one of my current projects – I can host the application either here in San Antonio, or in England (other locations to come maybe later this year). Ideally the data is distributed to various geographical location and the customer hits the server that is closest to them.

    Sounds easy enough – it isn’t 🙂

    As for Lagesse.org – yeah, I would expect it to be slow for you. It’s running off a cable modem, so the upload speeds are very slow (1 Megabits per second).

    Take care of yourself, Yuvi!


  2. Geography is a good part of the equation as well: Twitter is unusable for me in every interface except the distributed jabber based one (GTalk). Zooomr’s dead slow in here as well. Lagesse.org used to be, but is now back fast.

    Distributed servers, web 3.0, IT 3.0, backends…

    Well, maybe I should consider learning Windows administration once my right hand heals afterall 😀