Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Space vs Speed

In the old days you used to have to worry about whether to prioritize storage space or response speed. Basically, you can code a database to be as fast as you want if you have unlimited space. You can create a file for absolutely everything - so when data is retrieved, the database goes to just one file or directory and that's it. Conversely, if you minimize the space you consume, your database is forced to do more active searching through piles of data, slowing it down.

Nowadays space is so plentiful and cheap that you don't really need to worry about space. You can run amok and create the most relational database ever, where every file relates to another. Sweet.

Bandwidth, however, is not yet unlimited, though it soon will be. So your main constraint right now is how long it takes to back your database up over the Internet. If you design your backup system well, the whole architecture can be regenerated from a few core backup data files. Then the issue becomes the processing required to unpack a million-user database. And that's a whole new story.

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