I'm a jack of all trades at the ranch, but not in software.

Does your envrionment look like the one at Instagram? I’d bet that you ha there are a few of you that have an applicaiton or two that contains as many servers, components, pieces and parts, all held together with the proverbial duct tape and baling twine. I think I’ve had a few environments that were close to this complicated, but in general I try to avoid this type of mish mosh of technologies tools and platforms.

When I look at the SQLServerCentral architecture, while much smaller, still scales nicely on a single database server (clustered) and a web server. If I needed more performance, I’d hope that I could do something more similar to the setup at StackOverflow, with better development and fewer parts of my architecture than adding the type of complexity that powers Instagram.

That’s not to say that one environment is better than the other. I know that the staff at Instagram is learning a lot about integrating disparate systems, building new tools that can better manage their environment. As I read through the list, I’m not sure it’s a lot different than some of the environments I’ve worked in. If I listed all the pieces of software I’ve used in some applications, it might be just as complex, though it didn’t feel that way at the time.

I tend to prefer a simple environment, using as few pieces of software as necessary, but using the pieces that are appropriate for the job. Rather than build a complex XML processor, or fumble with XML in T-SQL, if I could buy a module that handled that function, I’d be happy to do so.

Working in technology is about choices, making the build/buy decision over and over, on a regular basis, and making the best decisions we can.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcasts