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Facebook's Potential "Fate Worse Than Death" Has Nothing to do With Google+

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Mark Zuckerberg’s preoccupation with the release of Google’s Google+ may soon be irrelevant, as a colossal internal problem may be looming in the social networking site’s future.

As the creator of Facebook looks to protect his “precious” (cue creepy Lord of the Rings voice) from external threats, he's also attempting to combat a problem that could have an immense effect on the sites existence. Forget being second best, Facebook's current database model may be approaching a breaking point, which means the company might have to rewrite the entire system. Can anyone say The Social Network: Take 2?

In a article titled “Facebook Trapped in MySQL ‘Fate Worse Than Death’”, author Derrick Harris summarizes the site's current situation for us:

“According to database pioneer Michael Stonebraker, Facebook is operating a huge, complex MySQL implementation equivalent to “a fate worse than death,” and the only way out is “bite the bullet and rewrite everything.”

Not that it’s necessarily Facebook’s fault, though. Stonebraker says the social network’s predicament is all too common among web startups that start small and grow to epic proportions.”

For those of you who aren’t as tech-savvy as I am (not), a MySQL can be loosely defined as a relational database management system that provides Facebook with multi-user access to its copious amount of databases. It's the system that allows all Facebook transactions to occur.

In an interview with Mr. Harris, Stonebraker explained, "Facebook has split its MySQL database into 4,000 shards in order to handle the site’s massive data volume, and is running 9,000 instances of memcached in order to keep up with the number of transactions the database must serve."

You do not have to know much about this subject to realize there are rough seas ahead for Facebook. As Harris points out "...every user clicking “Like,” updating his status, joining a new group or otherwise interacting with the site constitutes a transaction [that Facebook's] MySQL database has to process. Every second a user has to wait while a Facebook service calls the database is time that user might spend wondering if it’s worth the wait."

As Facebook continues to grow, its MySQL implementation struggles to keep up, and this is where Mark Zuckerberg’s predicament lies. Will he attempt to switch to a new system, or ride this one out and hope for the best? I guess we will just have to wait and see.

For now, though, maybe Zuckerberg should give Google+ a whirl. Oh wait, he already did…

Also see: Google+ Runs Out of Disk Space  and Google+ Invites a Feeding Friendzy
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