Lately I’ve read a lot of articles proclaiming that scalability is no longer an issue thanks primarily to AWS. As a devops engineer who lives and breathes this stuff, I’d like to point out that there are oodles of other technology advances that are more critical for scalability than simply being able to spin up virtual servers on demand.
The simplest possible example of why more servers != scalability is that of a MySQL query. If you run an unindexed query on a large table, you can add more slaves all day long but you still aren’t going to be able to service requests more quickly. Add an index, and suddenly you can service hundreds or thousands of similar queries with the same amount of resources as it took to run a single unindexed query.
I’d argue that the prime enablers of web scalability are:
You might argue that AWS offers many of the services I’ve described above. It’s true. But AWS was not the first to offer them, nor is AWS the only (or even cheapest) option today.
Update: CloudFlare’s CEO’s response at end of post.
CloudFlare is a service that sits in between your web site and its visitors to make pages load faster and defend against malicious users. The first time I heard about CloudFlare, I was enchanted. At Squidoo, I’ve worked for years to develop a rock solid performance and security infrastructure, and all of a sudden a company comes along that offers many of the same features for only $20/mo.
I’ve been eager for the chance to try CloudFlare, and the newly relaunched CollabFinder was the perfect test. Now that I have some experience with it, here is what I love and hate about Cloudflare:
If I could do it all over…
I’d still pick CloudFlare. For small businesses, side projects, and new ventures, it’s simply the easiest and most effective way to speed up and secure a web site.
Have you tried it? What do you think?
Update: CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince confirms via Twitter that CloudFlare is working on the negatives I’ve mentioned and that they do have support staff working 7 days a week. The tweet I referenced above is apparently directed only at hosting partners, not standard customers. Prince touts an average turnaround time of 3 hours on support requests, although there are no guarantees (and I’m waiting on an initial response to a ticket posted 22 hours ago). CloudFlare plans to offer a complete SLA sometime in the future.