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Twitter reveals new back-end photo storage system

In light of the photo wars going on among social media companies of late, it’s not surprising that back-end engineering is just as important as pretty filters. A Twitter engineer announced Tuesday that the company has built its own back-end storage system for photos, replacing previous partner Photobucket, which had housed the photos.

In a lengthy blog post explaining its own new product (strangely named Blobstore), Twitter explained how it moved on from using Photobucket beginning in September:

“Millions of people turn to Twitter to share and discover photos. To make it possible to upload a photo and attach it to your Tweet directly from Twitter, we partnered with Photobucket in 2011. As soon as photos became a more native part of the Twitter experience, more and more people began using this feature to share photos. In order to introduce new features and functionality, such as filters, and continue to improve the photos experience, Twitter’s Core Storage team began building an in-house photo storage system. In September, we began to use this new system, called Blobstore.”

Twitter just rolled out a photo filter and editing product on Monday, but has been hosting photos uploaded via the service since September following the introduction of the new system. Clearly storing and managing those photos is a top priority as the volume increases, because photos have become a vital parts of a social network.

Photobucket has worked to re-invent itself in the new era of social photos, when most people are sharing their pictures to Facebook, Instagram, and now likely Twitter, instead of older photo-storage services like Flickr, Webshots, or Photobucket.

2 Responses to “Twitter reveals new back-end photo storage system”

  1. I was surprised when Twitter launched photo “hosting” that it didn’t host things itself, so it makes complete sense for them to build their own backend. I expect the original launch was done with Photobucket to get things out faster. It makes even more sense now they’re properly going into photos with filters and more in-depth support through their app. I always found the photos to be very slow loading when they were using Photobucket too.

    Photos may well become a central feature to Twitter so they will want to own the technology so they can control speed and performance, as well as uptime. Cost is a major factor when it comes to photos, given the filesizes, so a custom project is needed to optimise that.

    PS. blob = binary large object, is a field type for storing binary data.