What really happened at Ma.gnolia and lessons learned

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Citizen Garden 11Larry (@lhalff) and I have been recording a podcast for the past year called Citizen Garden that covers various topics related to the web, technology, and social networking.

Well, given Ma.gnolia’s recent catastrophe, we decided that episode 11 would dedicated to exactly what went down and why, and what lessons Larry has learned that others should heed in order to avoid facing a similar crisis.

I think the basic take-away is that, four years ago, when Larry started Ma.gnolia, your IT options were pretty much to use commodity shared hosting or to do it yourself. If you used Ruby on Rails — in which Ma.gnolia is written — your options were even more limited. And so Larry chose to do it himself.

Today, with services like Amazon S3 & EC2, Joyent Accelerators and Google AppEngine, reliable, scalable hosting is no longer as much a problem, as these services have risen to meet the needs of applications like Ma.gnolia. But these are services that Larry did not take complete advantage of and the burden of taking care of over half a terabyte of data eventually caught up with him.

All is not lost necessarily, and Larry hopes that Ma.gnolia will someday return, perhaps as an invite-only service to start, in order to give him time to earn back people’s trust and scale the service slowly. I’m also confident that he’s decided to completely outsource his IT, taking the lessons from this current situation deeply to heart.

This episode is also downloadable as an MP3.

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