Monday, June 25, 2007

Seattle Conference on Scalability

Databases are dinosaurs. This is what Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon, had to say. And I think those three words do a great job of summing up the Seattle Conference on Scalability, which I attended last weekend.

The conference started off with a keynote by Jeff Dean of Google, giving a nice overview of the Google File System, MapReduce, and BigTable. Marissa Mayer also gave an brief history of some of the many challenges Google has faced in the last five or so years. I won't recap everything, check out the agenda for details. All the sessions should also be on YouTube by now.

"Databases are Dinosaurs". Vogels put this statement on the screen, and my first thought was that I had made a bad decision by skipping the YouTube session. But I was pleasantly surprised. You can read the details of Dynamo in an upcoming paper, it's going under the name "HASS" academically. A quick search indicates it's not out yet.

"You can't have high availability and high consistency at the same time." This statement is what really opened my eyes to one of the biggest challenges in web scale data management. Coming from Werner Vogels—CTO of Amazon, and a highly respected academic to boot—this is a strong statement. Conventional data management systems guarantee consistency and, following from the above statement, can never make strong high availability guarantees. I believe this to be the essence of Web Scalability.

Do you have an opinion on web scalability? Leave a comment and let me and our readers know.

1 comment:

PetrolHead said...

As it happens, Vogels isn't the only one with some stuff to say on the scalability/consistency tradeoff check out the CAP conjecture:

Hope that's useful,