Colin Charles Agenda

learn2scale – what’s up with Malaysian news sites? Will the cloud work for them?

Seriously kids, what’s with the lack of scalability? I’ve never seen CNN or the NYTimes go down on “trimmed” versions.

Is it a question of bandwidth? Is it lack of hardware?

Take for example, Malaysiakini (the first alternative news source in Malaysia, with a subscription model built around it). It runs FreeBSD, uses PostgreSQL, and has a CMS on top of it (so almost a LAMP stack right there). There’s even use of Squid for caching. Yet there’s lacking load balancing? This is where the cloud can come into play, when there’s high traffic.

Next up, The Malaysian Insider. They’re the new kid on the block. Its probably Linux, Joomla, and MySQL is confirmed. No caching (hello, memcached at some stage?). Looks like a one server operation. Again, if you want to start lean, scale to the cloud…

Of course, what takes the cake, is one of the most famous dailies, The Star. The .asp tells me they’re on some kind of Microsoft platform, and I don’t know how scalable that is (maybe with their goo). But for a major newspaper (ala the NYTimes equivalent in Malaysia), I’m surprised they’re too busy to serve us content.

Is it the fault of the applications
Is the next wave, getting open source applications to act in a scalable fashion? A CMS like Drupal or Joomla, how ready is it for instant scaling? After all, EC2 has persistent storage (I don’t know if Sun’s offers this or not?).

It seems like there’s a lot of OpenSolaris images for EC2 and web stuff, at OpenSolaris on Amazon EC2. I see a Joomla AMI, for example. How easy is this to plug-in for something like The Malaysian Insider? How easy will it be for them to scale up their services (i.e. start more instances, but will Joomla load balance? What considerations must they make if they went this route?). Similar question for the Drupal AMI.

I’m thinking I need to spend some time playing with “the cloud” in due time… Any thoughts or pointers on this, are also graciously appreciated.