Archive for the ‘Wordpress’ Category
Right after a comprehensive write up on Myspace’s troubles in scaling up their infrastructure to meet the needs of a million teenagers competing to make some of the ugliest and heaviest pages on the internet, comes a post by Matt on Automattic’s troubles getting Sun to make good on their promises made under their Startup Essentials Program. I had written earlier about how Sun has made some surprise incursions into what’s been traditionally Microsoft and LAMP territory in the media sector, but if what Matt’s saying is true (BTW, I still have not received my free Solaris 10 DVDs they’d promised to ship from Sun.de), it is a bad move on Sun’s part. Promising and not delivering is a lot worse than not promising at all, be it love or be it business.
That apart, I continue to be amazed by WordPress.com’s growth and stability. At least from the point of view of an user, it does not feel anything like what Matt says — an operation run on a tight budget — and I am for the first time not considering anything else to satisfy my blogging needs. I am one of those bloggers who are technically competent enough to run their own server/framework etc. But after a day of dealing with, among other things, servers spread over three full racks, last thing I need is to manage one for myself. And that was the primary reason why I’ve always stuck with Blogger. Nothing beats the luxury of having your data hosted on Google’s servers and even after the recent troubles with Gmail, I am yet to experience any data loss with the company.
I do not know exactly what set up WordPress.com is using (I am assuming that all the reads are handled out of one DC and the writes out of another, with redundant high-speed links handling the Mysql replication between the two and another framework handling all the media files), but it’s been very impressive till date and it should be a lesson for the Myspace in scaling and redundancy (yeah, I know the scales we are talking about are very different, but just do a comparison of the outages/costs and you’ll know what I am talking about).
From my own experience, I’ve always leaned towards Postgresql in the database wars. From my first brush with the elephant in 2002, I’ve never experienced any data loss, even when someone pulled the plug on the server, while the case has been different with Mysql. Moreover, in the current set up, I’ve seen our Postgresql servers handling around 2500 connections (mixed read and write) without breaking a sweat (load level 2.5 average) on a single server, while the same on a single Mysql server causes it to throw its hands up and say “I give up.” Of course, Mysql is very fast when you offload the reads on to a cluster of slaves, but that brings in the cost factor into the equation. That, I’ll tackle in a different post.
I’ve been seeing individual blogs on WordPress.com being intermittently served out of a VSNL IP address (188.8.131.52). The IP address is from a range that is not normally seen on sites served out of VSNL which belong to the 203.199.xxx.xxx range, which, if my memory serves me right, is the Prabhadevi IDC. The WordPress IP has a reverse DNS of vashi-netli-idc-ill184.108.40.206.static.vsnl.net.in and as you can imagine it belongs to the Vashi IDC.
WordPress.com has been fiddling around with its content serving infrastructure for a while now, initially using mirrored multihomed servers out of Arizona and San Diego IDCs and from what I could guess switched recently to using a content accelerator like BigIP or ServerIron switches, thus drastically dropping the number of multiple IPs that resolve to the wordpress.com subdomains.
The geeky parts apart, I would really like to know what’s prompted this India-specific change for WordPress.com. One of the most obvious explanations is that they could have signed up with Akamai or Limelight Networks for their CDN services. But Akamai has been serving their Indian content from their Reliance IDC IPs for their clients and from what I vaguely remember this was not the IP block they were serving in India even on their network in VSNL. Limelight does not specialise in serving text content, they are multimedia content specialists and even their known client of Rajshri is being served from their IDC in Arizona. And from the little I had once talked to the Limelight guys, they still don’t have any POPs in India.
If it is due to an uptake in traffic and registrations from India, that would be something worth noticing on WordPress because it has not been an easy task to get a blogging framework to do well in India and having a dedicated serving infrastructure within India would be excellent news for Indian WordPress.com users.
On a related note, Google has joined the ranks of Microsoft and Yahoo! in having a dedicated cluster for serving India. Yahoo! Mail users and old Hotmail users would fondly remember the cluster-based subdomains like f18.mail.yahoo.com and baym-cs237.msgr.hotmail.com. These days, a ‘netstat -a’ gives interesting Google-related reverse DNS entries like po.in.f125.google.com and in.in.f19.google.com. These are interesting times indeed.
Hell has frozen over! Blogger is rolling out a new backend. On second thoughts, it is only getting a bit chilly out here, but it certainly ain’t cool enough for things to freeze over. At least not yet. Apparently, the greatest of the changes is in a place where the end user, like you and me, don’t see much of. Blogger is going off the static publishing set up (one where it would pick up content from its database and spit out static HTML and XML files based on the templates and settings you had specified) and moving to a new set up where all the content is served dynamically (the way in which WordPress blogs functions now).
The immediate change you’ll get to see is a top bar, quite similar to wordpress.com once again, that will show you as logged in and also display other useful information, if you are logged in. Behind the scenes, and I am guessing here, the entire operation would now move to an application server (probably the same server that handles the posting/editing backend) from the old set up which was probably serving a directory of files based on the host header. The other significant change is the authentication part, for which you can now use your Google account (for new blogs, not for existing blogs) or your old Blogger account. The logic there is quite mixed up and needs a lot of work.
That said, the new beta is a complete dud compared to WordPress.com. The interface is still the dated, clunky one and true to the beta label, some of the stuff is broken, like the new WYSIWYG layout editor that was spewing out Ajax debug information on to my screen when it was not functioning as intended. Access control is nice, but I did not see the option for controlling access per post and determining access on the blog level is not a fun thing to do.
The good points? Well, the archive links are laid out much better now and there are Atom feeds for posts and comments (per post too) now. There is also something called “labels”, which looks like a bastard child that resulted from a love making session between tags and categories. Pretty nice, but once again it is something they should have had yesterday.
But someone really has to get some new default templates into the system pretty soon. I am sick of seeing the same 10 all over the place. And the upgrade itself is symptomatic of how Google treats Blogger, more like a stepchild than as a product that deserves a whole lot more of attention and resources allocated to it. Yeah, I know, it is not easy to roll out features for a framework that supports a huge number of users, compared to something like wordpress.com that is new and had a clean sheet of paper to start with. But it can’t be that difficult either. After all, it is all just a data, pulled in and out of database servers and presented on web servers.
I had written earlier about how it was impossible for me to change the default post category in WordPress.com. Well, there is actually a way, but it is in the wrong place, if you ask me. To change your default post category, move on over to the Options >> Writing tab and change the settings there.
Okay, I do know that all of you read a lot and I am quite happy about the fact. But please stop polluting your main blog feed with your Delicious subscriptions. I am sick of going through feeds that often have nothing else but endless bulleted lists of “links for blah-blah-blah”. If I want to know what you are bookmarking, I’d subscribe to your Delicious feed, not your blog feed. Thank you.