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Tumblr's Architecture: "15 billion pageviews / month and harder to scale than Twitter."

Stashed in: DevOps, Scaling

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The next time I ask myself why Tumblr is down, I'll re-read this February 2012 article:

Growing at over 30% a month has not been without challenges. Some reliability problems among them. It helps to realize that Tumblr operates at surprisingly huge scales: 500 million page views a day, a peak rate of ~40k requests per second, ~3TB of new data to store a day, all running on 1000+ servers.

One of the common patterns across successful startups is the perilous chasm crossing from startup to wildly successful startup. Finding people, evolving infrastructures, servicing old infrastructures, while handling huge month over month increases in traffic, all with only four engineers, means you have to make difficult choices about what to work on. This was Tumblr’s situation. Now with twenty engineers there’s enough energy to work on issues and develop some very interesting solutions.

Tumblr started as a fairly typical large LAMP application. The direction they are moving in now is towards a distributed services model built around Scala, HBase, Redis, Kafka, Finagle,  and an intriguing cell based architecture for powering their Dashboard. Effort is now going into fixing short term problems in their PHP application, pulling things out, and doing it right using services.

The theme at Tumblr is transition at massive scale. Transition from a LAMP stack to a somewhat bleeding edge stack. Transition from a small startup team to a fully armed and ready development team churning out new features and infrastructure. To help us understand how Tumblr is living this theme is startup veteran Blake Matheny, Distributed Systems Engineer at Tumblr.

Tumblr's stack seems ridiculously complicated to me.

I hope those 20 engineers know what they're doing...

By comparison, Instagram is SUPER simple.

Instagram had 3 engineers.


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