Twitter outage - and Why Consistent Performance on Social Networks is Hard

Keeping social networks up and running is no easy task. Today's casualty, Twitter is down again. I suspect that their engineers are in the "war room" thinking about what the root cause is and resolving it quickly. Perhaps it's another denial of service (DoS) attack.

Why are performance issues hard on social networking sites? A few reasons:

  • Content sites are easy to cache. Social networks have updates happening more frequently from many users in many different ways.
  • Managing relationships in databases is still a "hard" problem. Actions from one person affect many users in unique ways. I tweet, my 500 followers get updates in real time.
  • Performance is hard to monitor. Usage patters from a small subset of users can undermine performance for many users
  • Security is a battle. The more successful networks are prone to more complex attacks, but even smaller networks have a never ending battle with spamers.
  • Performance considerations are different depending on the type of user. How to scale millions of Twitter users with few updates/followers is a very different problem than making it perform well for the 1% of users with significant tweet'ing and followers.
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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld,, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.