As it’s now officially on the schedule, I’d like to announce that I’ll be speaking at PHPNW12 in Manchester, on the 5th, 6th and 7th of October. I’m actually speaking at 2pm on Saturday the 6th, and will be talking about “Designing systems to scale”. Here’s the abstract:

Historically when an application gets more popular, we as developers simply make the server a bit bigger. But what happens when you can’t make the server any bigger? Suddenly you have an app that’s getting millions of hits a day and a database that’s a terabyte big. Imagine how hard it’d be to find a way for more people to sign up whilst not impacting the site’s performance for your existing customers. It’s not easy (we’ve done it!). Wouldn’t it be easier to plan for scale from day zero? Thanks to services such as Amazon AWS, it’s typically cheaper to run several smaller servers than one big one, so as well as easy scaling you’ll be saving money. Great applications need great foundations. Michael’s taken from struggling to process a few thousand tweets to processing over a million per day, and has learned a lot along the way. He’d like to share what he’s learned so far and the benefits and pitfalls of the various approaches that he’s tried.

I’ve learned a lot working on Tweetdig, and it looks as though I’m gonna get the chance to share it with you all. When I was submitting the CfP there was a box asking why this talk was suitable for the conference. I googled looking for examples everywhere but all I could find were announcements like this that people were going to speak at a conference but no more details. Having something like this would have really helped me, so I’d like to share my justifications for wanting to present this talk with you too.

This is a real problem that a lot of developers never come across. I personally had never encountered it until suddenly I had to make a solution we’d built scale overnight. The experience that the talk is based on occurred at the end of 2011, so the content is fresh and up to date. The content’s also quite language independent. At Tweetdig we use PHP for the API, but it’s supported by NodeJS, Redis and mySQL. A big part of the solution is to use the correct tools for the job, which I think is something that most PHP developers typically shy away from and use a pure PHP approach.

So, if you’re headed to PHPNW12 (and if you’re not, you should be) make sure to come to track 3 on the Saturday at 2pm to see me give my first ever conference talk!

July 14, 2012