Even in Web 2.0 Scale & Size Matter

Yet another update at the bottom of the page

Updated Many times in the past I have pointed out that most of the new Web 2.0 type start-ups have business plans that only go so far! I am actually glad to see Jeremy Wright take a stand on this issue.

I’ve spent about 10 hours this month working with really, really high profile Web 2.0 ish companies nearly yelling at them about their lack of true infrastructure. If your business depends on your website being up, look at your code, look at your infrastructure and for your users sake figure out what you actually need and build the damn thing properly!


I think most start-ups actually don’t take that into account, and pay the price as they grow really big really fast. Early hiccups at TypePad were a case in point. Having had the financial resources, Six Apart has largely overcome those problems. Others, are not thinking along those lines, because we are in the early stages of what might be a bubble, as per Tristan Louis.

During a bubble, attention to boring details like capacity planning, infrastructure management, security, etc… sometimes take a back seat to new feature introduction. Those, however, are a substantial portion of what makes a company survive.

As part of my virtual visit to Les Blogs, I recorded a video which discussed these issues briefly. What worries me the most is “the me-too nature of the companies,” features posing as products and eventually companies and what not. These are signs of what could be excessive froth, as Louis points out. (Steven Borsch has a good post on this as well!)

However, the lack of planning for scale is a clear sign that we are living in a “built to flip” age. No one, is thinking (or planning) about long term business models!

Updated 37signals’ David Heinemeier Hansson offers an alternate point of view, though I suspect he is concluding “Planning and architecting for the future” with 99.999% uptime. He says spending $3 million on servers in Web 1.o was sign of a bubble. I say, not having a long term plan, including a scalable architecture shows, that you are waiting to be bought out. I think the issue is not about blowing millions on servers, which in these days of ultracommoditizaion is difficult, but the issue is – what is your end goal. Ramana Kovi has some thoughts, and I wish he would elaborate further.

Further thoughts from Steven Borsch: “It’s not just servers and bandwidth that are required for scale. It’s dealing with latency over an increasingly fragmented and geographically disbursed base of people consuming web applications.”

More thoughtful entries from Danny Ayers and The Stalwart, on this subject. Danny disagrees and The Stalwart agrees. Danny Says:

Definitions of Web 2.0 vary, but I think two key aspects are The Web as Platform and The Architecture of Participation. For applications that exploit these paradigms to function, there must certainly be some forward-looking design locally, for example in setting up a distributed database on the company’s servers.

But Danny isn’t that what I was saying? People are thinking short term, and thus not taking into account what you so eloquently write.

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