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Cache rules everything around me

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 21, 2015

Paul Ford writes about how Greg Knauss scaled Paper’s web site after they broke the internet with nude photos of Kim Kardashian.

Via email, Jacobs told Knauss that PAPER believed “they’ve got something that they think will generate at least 100 million page views, and will their current infrastructure support that?”

“This sort of cold thrill goes down my spine,” Knauss said, “and the only thought that makes it out of my brain is, ‘Eep.’”

He continued: “I reflexively begin designing the architecture in my head. It’s a nerd impulse. Dogs chase after thrown balls, system administrators design to arbitrary traffic.”

I love this article for a whole bunch of reasons (including that it’s written by a friend about two other friends, one of whom is responsible for keeping kottke.org’s servers going), but I was just talking about the burstable web scaling issue with a friend the other day. She was trying to make a reservation for a ferry. The reservations open for the entire season on a particular day at a particular hour and in a matter of hours, most (if not all) of the reservations are taken. And of course, their tiny web site and backend systems melts into a huge puddle that day, people can’t get in, and everyone wastes 4 hours of their day trying to make a simple reservation. Basically, the ferry company needs to be Ticketmaster, but only for 3 or 4 hours every year. That’s a weird problem and it’s been an issue on the web since forever, and no one has solved it in an entirely off-the-shelf way. Someone get on this, riches await.