Inside MySpace: The Story

By David F. Carr Print this article Print

Booming traffic demands put a constant stress on the social network's computing infrastructure. Here's how it copes.

title= Second Milestone: 1-2 Million Accounts}

Second Milestone: 1-2 Million Accounts

As MySpace registration passed 1 million accounts and was closing in on 2 million, the service began knocking up against the input/output (I/O) capacity of the database servers—the speed at which they were capable of reading and writing data. This was still just a few months into the life of the service, in mid-2004. As MySpace user postings backed up, like a thousand groupies trying to squeeze into a nightclub with room for only a few hundred, the Web site began suffering from "major inconsistencies," Benedetto says, meaning that parts of the Web site were forever slightly out of date.

"A comment that someone had posted wouldn't show up for 5 minutes, so users were always complaining that the site was broken," he adds.

The next database architecture was built around the concept of vertical partitioning, with separate databases for parts of the Web site that served different functions such as the log-in screen, user profiles and blogs. Again, the Web site's scalability problems seemed to have been solved—for a while.

  • The vertical partitioning scheme helped divide up the workload for database reads and writes alike, and when users demanded a new feature, MySpace would put a new database online to support it. At 2 million accounts, MySpace also switched from using storage devices directly attached to its database servers to a storage area network (SAN), in which a pool of disk storage devices are tied together by a high-speed, specialized network, and the databases connect to the SAN. The change to a SAN boosted performance, uptime and reliability, Benedetto says.

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    This article was originally published on 2007-01-16
    David F. Carr David F. Carr is the Technology Editor for Baseline Magazine, a Ziff Davis publication focused on information technology and its management, with an emphasis on measurable, bottom-line results. He wrote two of Baseline's cover stories focused on the role of technology in disaster recovery, one focused on the response to the tsunami in Indonesia and another on the City of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.David has been the author or co-author of many Baseline Case Dissections on corporate technology successes and failures (such as the role of Kmart's inept supply chain implementation in its decline versus Wal-Mart or the successful use of technology to create new market opportunities for office furniture maker Herman Miller). He has also written about the FAA's halting attempts to modernize air traffic control, and in 2003 he traveled to Sierra Leone and Liberia to report on the role of technology in United Nations peacekeeping.David joined Baseline prior to the launch of the magazine in 2001 and helped define popular elements of the magazine such as Gotcha!, which offers cautionary tales about technology pitfalls and how to avoid them.
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