SSDs boost Instagram's speed on Amazon EC2

The solid-state drives help Instagram deliver on its customers' demands for speed, a co-founder said

Instagram can drive data to its computing systems on Amazon.com's EC2 service 20 times as fast with solid-state drives, a co-founder of the photo-sharing service said on Thursday at the GigaOm Mobilize conference in San Francisco.

Rather than access data from networked hard disk drives, Instagram's server instances on EC2 can use directly connected solid-state disks, said Mike Krieger, a co-founder of the company that Facebook agreed to acquire in April for about US$1 billion. Instagram got trial access to solid-state drives on the EC2 cloud-computing platform before that option became generally available, one of the perks of being a large customer, Krieger said.

Enterprises are starting to embrace SSDs as a faster, more compact and less power-hungry alternative to spinning disks, though the hardware still costs more per gigabyte. Web 2.0 services such as Instagram have been early adopters of the technology.

Krieger would not estimate how much data Instagram maintains, but he said users have uploaded about 5 billion images to the service.

Instagram turned to EC2 early in its life in order to deal with rapid growth. It had launched with just one rented server in Los Angeles, Krieger said.

"We planned very poorly in the beginning," Krieger said. Other tech startups based near its San Francisco headquarters recommended using EC2 for flexibility in infrastructure, and Instagram has been happy with the service ever since, he said.

Krieger said even though the company now has more than 100 million users, he is still one of just three people maintaining its infrastructure. The company learned early on not to needlessly duplicate the work of others but instead build on it. For a startup, that can mean not building their own storage, computing systems, or user interface components.

"A big part of that is figuring out what you want your company to be good at," Krieger said. In Instagram's case, that was speed. It figured out that users would want to use its app during short breaks such as waiting for a bus, and made it capable of uploading their photos and displaying others' images very quickly, he said.

"You're filling in gaps in these peoples' lives," Krieger said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?