Fixing Twitter: Improving the Performance and Scalability of the World's Most Popular Micro-blogging Site

Keynote , Operations
Location: Regency Ballroom Level: Intermediate
Average rating: ****.
(4.28, 43 ratings)

Twitter ( is a micro-blogging service that allows users to answer the question “What are you doing?”. It takes a simple 140 character string (a tweet), and distributes that to a user’s following (or “friends”) list.

Over the last few years, Twitter has experienced a variety of challenges scaling its site to serve millions and millions of users. From hosting issues to Ruby on Rails, we’ve met many scaling challenges and would like to share some of our experiences with the community.

We will attempt to cover:

  • Best practices for deploying Ruby on Rails in production
  • Performance impacts of abuse and why rate limiting is so important.
  • What to do when your API use overtakes normal web use
  • Asynchronous versus Synchronous processing during request lifetime
  • Why disk is the new tape (or, how social media isn’t possible without cheap memory)
  • Caching methodologies and Twitter’s open source efforts (Scarling, CacheMoney, Libmemcached)
  • Why databases are not the best solution for all problems.
  • Message queues
  • Handling large logs with Thrift
  • Incremental scaling improvements: Find the weak point, fixing it, find the next one, repeat.

Talk may include additional speakers from Twitter, pending management approval.

Photo of John Adams

John Adams


John Adams (Twitter Operations) has worked in web security, operations, and systems engineering for over 15 years. Prior to Twitter, he has worked at Apple, Inktomi, c|net, and a major video-on-demand site, improving security, performance, and reliability at large scale.

Comments on this page are now closed.


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Ron Marcelle
10/07/2009 8:29am PDT

@Simon, sorry for the bad link and thank you for taking the time to point out. I’ve corrected the link above, now correctly pointing to ( )

Picture of Simon Smith
Simon Smith
10/07/2009 8:09am PDT

I’m getting “this link appears to be broken” when I click on the presentations link above.

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Suzanne Axtell
06/24/2009 12:53am PDT

The video will hopefully be posted later today. Several from Tuesday are already posted now:;nsfw=dc

Julia Musailova-Mello
06/23/2009 7:24pm PDT

Really enjoyed this one. Thanks John! Would the video from the presentation be available?

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J.B. Wheatley
06/23/2009 6:28am PDT

The slides for this talk are now available via the “Presentation” link above!

Derek Lei
06/23/2009 5:51am PDT

loved this presentation. Thanks John! Where can I find the last slide where you posted up a bunch of links?

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