Former Dropbox engineer on scaling to 175M users


The former head of server engineering at Dropbox, Rajiv Eranki, gave a rundown of how his team scaled Dropbox into the millions of users at the RAMP conference yesterday. This is of particular interest, as the popular online storage service had earlier this week separately announced that it hit 175 million users, up from 100 million in November 2012.

As reported on TechCrunch, "[Eranki] said that every time they tried to anticipate things or 'be clever in advance' they failed. In fact, it was much easier to just stay on top of the architecture as it grew and keep tabs on it."

Indeed, many were left unimpressed with the seemingly haphazard method of development. "Good architectural foresight and planning are not hard. Nor is implementing it. If it is, you're [sic] doing something very wrong," wrote a reader in response to the original report. "I will be canceling my subscription now."

If there is one lesson though, it is the value of interpreted languages such as Python, which was used behind the scenes and for the client app. With reference to how Python carried the day, Eranki said: "we could get to 40m users without having to write thousands of lines of C code."

The Fierce Take: That Dropbox has scaled to more than 100 million users is probably more due to its marketing acumen than its record of uptime and reliability. Though there is no evidence that this is still the case, the report does reveal the tendency of startups to emphasize development and scaling up fast in lieu of spending the time on creating good architecture and proper testing. This is a salient point to consider before signing up for the next startup web service of the month--or before deciding to rely on Dropbox for business critical stuff.

For more:
- check out this article at TechCrunch

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