July 27, 2012 at 1:49 PM ET
Too much tweeting hijinks among the elite athletes in London's Olympic Village? Another "cascading bug," like the one that briefly took down Twitter in June? Revenge of the Fail Whale?
Nope! The reason Twitter went down for approximately two hours on Thursday had nothing to do with any of the above — at least according to Mazen Rawashdeh, Twitter's vice present of engineering. Posting on Twitter's blog, Rawashdeh explained that the cause of the Twitter's second outage within five weeks came from within its data centers:
Data centers are designed to be redundant: when one system fails (as everything does at one time or another), a parallel system takes over. What was noteworthy about today’s outage was the coincidental failure of two parallel systems at nearly the same time.
I wish I could say that today’s outage could be explained by the Olympics or even a cascading bug. Instead, it was due to this infrastructural double-whammy. We are investing aggressively in our systems to avoid this situation in the future.
Good intentions aside, the second outage within five weeks is a setback for the short-messaging service, at least business-wise. Twitter is attempting to prove its value to advertisers by promoting its popularity during live events. And it doesn't get much bigger than the Olympics. Twitter is partnered with NBCUniversal earlier this month, with NBC guiding users to Olympics-related Twitter accounts during its coverage of the event.
(NBC News is a division of NBCUniversal, whichis the official broadcast partner of the London 2012 Olympic Games.)
Twitter's Thursday outage — which ran from approximately 8:20 a.m. to 10:25 a.m. ET — occurred just as tweets about Olympics were gaining steam. A week before Friday's opening ceremony, Twitter reported more tweets about the 2012 Olympics on a single day than there were during the the Beijing Olympics. Fans of football (what we call soccer, here in the U.S.) broke Twitter's sports record earlier, with more than 15,000 tweets-per-second during a match between Poland and Greece.
Even though we're long past the days when a spike in Justin Bieber-related tweets threatened could take down Twitter, the outages in June and July bring back not-so-fond memories of the Fail Whale — that airborne sea mammal we'd see when whenever we couldn't access Twitter. He was cute, but cute doesn't cut it when you're a social media site hoping to stay gold during the Olympics.