Scalability Revisited

1 September 2005

Ham radio once was, and probably still is, a tool for the masses when catastrophe strikes. Internet technology has similar potential, but it is only potential right now.

The number of hosts, companies and bandwidth users with the capacity to handle a step function in instantaneous bandwidth demand is quite small. Google comes to mind. Microsoft might be in the hunt. Is Yahoo there? Who else?

Here’s an example of what can happen. Imagine 1000 requests per second!

* * * UPDATE * * * Revealing is the following quote from one of the administrators over at TextDrive:

To put this in perspective, a mid-tier dot.com such as ESPN.com, Realtor.com get anywhere from 20 to 30 million page views per day. IIRC, last year Amazon.com was in the order of 80 million. This site, if we let it stay up and the hit rate was steady, would’ve gotten 86 million in 24 hours.

No regular host can survive that amount of traffic. The bandwidth costs alone would be ruinous. And, since this surge of traffic came with absolutely no warning, we couldn’t do anything ahead of time to stop it.

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