Twitter's to-do list: Become obsessive about uptime

Summary:The big news in the blogosphere is that Twitter's lead architect, Blaine Cook, has left the company. Here's a chance for Twitter to add another scalability guru to become industrial strength.

The big news in the blogosphere is that Twitter's lead architect, Blaine Cook, has left the company. Here's a chance for Twitter to add another scalability guru to become industrial strength.

Silicon Alley Insider reported that Cook has left Twitter "just over two weeks ago." Peter Kafka also noted that Cook's departure was amicable.

Connecting the dots here is relatively simple even if it may not completely accurate. Twitter had trouble with uptime--as has been documented everywhere--and Cook is out. Cook's departure isn't as black and white as that, but the lesson is clear: Stability matters.

Twitter is at an interesting point in its development. The service is indispensible to some. Twitter has critical mass. Twitter could monetize that critical mass. But first Twitter needs to excel at basic blocking and tackling. It needs to hit at least two 9s of uptime. Could you imagine if your IM was down in a crunch? How about email? If one service failed repeatedly you'd try a different service.

That's the crossroad Twitter is facing. Cook's departure is an opportunity to revamp and bring in some adults. Twitter is a service that was hatched, caught some buzz and wasn't built for the long haul. Twitter at this stage is a phenomenon not a business. To become a business it is going to need an infrastructure overhaul. If Twitter finds the right replacement for Cook, perhaps it can complete the overhaul in time to graduate into a profitable business.

But first it needs to become obsessed with uptime. Today, Twitter is simply too quirky to be counted on. The good news is that Twitter realizes it needs to scale up. On Monday, Twitter hired John Kalucki, an experienced distributed systems architect and former co-founder of San Francisco based SQLstream, and Steve Jenson, a former Google software engineer known for his work scaling Blogger and Blogspot. In January, Twitter hired Lee Mighdoll to be VP of engineering and operations.

Now Cook's departure may bring another new body on board. Let's hope the new architect is focused solely on stability.

Topics: Social Enterprise

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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