While much of the blogosphere is currently dwelling on how great it is that Twitter is postponing its maintenance to allow Iran-related communication
, my mind is still reeling from reading the Twitter blog post
, particularly this part (my emphasis added):
A critical network upgrade must be performed to ensure continued operation of Twitter. In coordination with Twitter, our network host had planned this upgrade for tonight.
Like Chaim Haas, my reaction is... why is that "network host" singular?
Given the millions of people now using Twitter on an ongoing basis... given the incredibly large ecosystem of applications and systems linking in to Twitter... given the very real communications uses that Twitter has evolved to have... given all of that:
why does Twitter not have redundant connections?
This is really "Network Infrastructure 101" when you are supplying a hosted service. Anyone providing a cloud-based service should ensure that they have redundant network connections... redundant providers... redundant everything. Coming from a company (Voxeo) that provides a hosted application platform, it boggles my mind that Twitter would need to take its system down for "network maintenance". We would never do that... our customers wouldn't stand for it!
And that is perhaps the issue... we have customers... Twitter has users.
We ensure that we have multiple redundant providers and networks... because our customers pay us to ensure that their applications are always available. Twitter can get by on "best effort" - and on a single network provider - because no one pays...
Twitter continues to be a massive...
Single Point Of Failure
One company... providing a messaging infrastructure... obviously based on one network provider.
This is my personal frustration with Twitter. I've been using it for now 2.5 years or so and continue to see so many benefits to Twitter, yet as someone who has been involved with computer networks for 25+ years, the very idea of a SPOF is hideous. I'm much more interested in distributed architectures like what we see with Laconi.ca and Identi.ca,(As I wrote about a year ago.) or what Google seems to be promising with Wave.
Yet Twitter's simplicity... it's directory of users... it's easy APIs... it's ecosystem... all of those things keep us using its services...
So while I commend Twitter on listening to their users and postponing their maintenance window... I ask as a long-time user -
why do they need a maintenance window?
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twitter, microblogging, nomaintenance, identi.ca, laconi.ca, google wave