According to my Twitter sources and tweets on the site, they're not coming back. As Gergely Orosz, editor and author of the popular software engineering and management blog, The Pragmatic Engineer, said, "Several people who were let go on Friday, then asked to come back were given less than an hour as a deadline. Software engineers who got this call ... all said 'no' and the only ones who could eventually say 'yes' are on visas."
Managers, according to my sources and Orosz, are "getting desperate, trying to call back more people. People are saying 'no' + more sr engineers are quitting."
Let's look at Twitter's technology, shall we? Twitter runs on CentOS 7. This free Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) clone comes to the end of its life at the end of June 2024. The leading choices for what to replace it with should be RHEL 9, Rocky Linux, or AlmaLinux. But instead of working on on that transition, what few system administrators Twitter has left are both trying to get the platform ready for Musk's laundry list of new features and keeping it patched and up-to-date.
That's a problem. You see, unlike RHEL, where a big part of the attraction is that you can depend on Red Hat for first-rate support, CentOS, Rocky, and AlmaLinux are all primarily meant for companies with in-house staff who already know Linux servers backward and forward. That's no longer the case at Twitter.
As Terra Field, a Honeycomb Staff Platform Engineer, pointed out, "An infrastructure the size of Twitter will not fail overnight, but it is going to relatively quickly go into a degraded state. The few platform people that remain will have their necks exactly at the waterline. It will not take much to sink." Field's right.
Twitter also relies on its own homebrew software. Programs such as Apache Heron for stream processing and twemproxy for cache scaling are essential for Twitter to run at scale. If programs like these go awry, and they will, Twitter's performance will slow down.
That's probably not what Twitter wants to happen since the US elections are guaranteed to give the social network a serious stress test.
Sure, Quinn continued, "Twitter has also been around for ~15 years. [So,] a lot of infrastructure 'cruft' has built up. "Is that important, or can it be turned off" is the kind of thing best answered via asking people. 50% of Twitter was let go today, and your oral tradition just walked out the door too."
Put it all together, and it's not "if" Twitter will crash soon; it's "when." I won't be surprised if Election Day brings it down. If not, I give Twitter until the end of the month before its next major crash.
And, when will it come back up? That's a darn good question. I won't be surprised if it takes days or even weeks.
Replacing Twitter, and let's face it, that's what I predict most of us will end up doing, won't be easy. Ed Bott recently pointed out that there are no good Twitter replacements yet. He expects that unless Musk "actually burns down the data center housing Twitter's core assets, Twitter isn't going away." I fear that while Musk isn't throwing gasoline and lit matches at the servers, he's already destroying the people and software Twitter needs to run.