Finally, Twitter acknowledges they have a problem.
After several lengthy outages—the most recent one on Monday—Twitter posted yet another “mea culpa” to its blog, not just apologizing, but acknowledging that there’s an issue:
When you can’t update your profile photo, send a Tweet, or even sign on to Twitter, it’s frustrating. We know that, and we’ve had too many of these issues recently.
Twitter’s user base has exploded in the last year, with the service averaging 300,000 new accounts on an average day. As a result, the kings of microblogging have struggled to keep up.
Now, in an effort to minimize its downtime and appease its frustrated users, Twitter announced that it’s moving its technical operations infrastructure into a new, custom-built data center in the Salt Lake City Area. The move will occur later this year.
The new data center will give employees full control over network and systems configuration, which Twitter says will allow the company greater flexibility to make quick adjustments as their infrastructure needs change.
But will that solve the problem?
Probably not, says Nigel Fenwick, VP and principle analyst at Forrester Research. “Even with a new purpose-built data center, I would expect that the huge, unexpected bursts in traffic are always going to be a problem for Twitter without additional infrastructure-as-a-service cloud services to provide on-demand resources.”
[Twitter Bible: Everything You Need To Know About Twitter]
Rachel Dines, infrastructure and operations analyst with Forrester, agrees. “They need to get more serious about high availability and resiliency. If they have a network failure, why wasn’t there a redundant network to fail over to?” she says. “It also appears that Twitter could get better about governing processes. They have blamed downtime several times on lack of management and monitoring. Neither of these issues will magically disappear when Twitter owns their own data center.”
And that could pose a huge problem for Twitter in the future. “If Twitter fails to provide a robust, secure and reliable service, they expose themselves to competitive threats,” Fenwick says. “I believe in today’s always-connected society, consumers expect their connections to work. Fortunately for most Twitter users, Twitter is not a ‘must-have’ channel, but that could change.”
Twitter’s move to a customized data center is a step in the right direction, but it remains to be seen if it’s a viable solution. If downtimes become part of the Twitter user experience, would you leave the service?
Staff Writer Kristin Burnham covers consumer Web and social technologies for CIO.com. She writes frequently on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. You can follow her on Twitter: @kmburnham.