Helen Popkin
By
msnbc.com
updated 7/22/2010 5:49:02 PM ET 2010-07-22T21:49:02

Monday on Twitter probably felt like business as usual for many. Throughout the day, users were unable to sign up, sign in or update their profile. Unlike the frequent outages experienced during the World Cup, this glitch wasn't caused by the site being over capacity, according to Twitter engineer Jean-Paul Cozzatti.

"Our users' database, where we store millions of user records, got hung up running a long-running query; as a result, most of the table became locked," Cozzatti wrote on Twitter's  engineering blog. He cites the specifics, if you're the kind of geek who wants to know. Long story short, the engineers did what most of us do when our electronics lock up — they rebooted.

Oh if only all of Twitter's problems were so easily addressed. While Monday's issue is reportedly a rarity, the more frequent availability issues caused by the blessing/curse of too many users may finally have a permanent solution: Twitter is building its own data center.

Later this year, Twitter is moving its technical operations into a custom-built data center in the Salt Lake City area. Since its 2006 launch, Twitter relied on several outside providers to host its system. The company ditched one provider in 2008, reportedly because of down-time issues. And the next company it hired expanded its own infrastructure to host Twitter's rapid growth.

"Twitter’s user base has continued to grow steadily in 2010, with over 300,000 people a day signing up for new accounts on an average day," Cozzatti wrote. "Having dedicated data centers will give us more capacity to accommodate this growth in users and activity on Twitter." And they'll need it. According to the engineer's post, Twitter has 124 million registered users. In April, that number was 105 million.

"That Twitter is growing rapidly is, of course, a good thing, but failing to scale has been a killer for other promising tech companies, most notably Friendster," notes Silicon Alley Insider. "If dedicated data centers can transform Twitter into a stable service, that would be huge."

According to Cozzatti, the data center is designed to meet Twitter's specific power needs, with high availability and redundancy in the system to accomodate traffic. "Importantly, having our own data center will give us the flexibility to more quickly make adjustments as our infrastructure needs change," he wrote.

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