Inside Second Life’s Data Centers

Well, after I finished my roundup I've found an article from last week in my feedreader run by Infoweek called "Inside Second Life's Datacenter." It showed up today at Slashdot, so... it should be already very popular now.

But there are some real interesting facts in this article I'd like to point out:

  • the monthly growth rate is about 20% at the moment. That's big!
  • The maximum possible number of concurrent online users at the moment is claimed to be at 100.000 avatars. I don't believe this number, they've got already issues when the number goes about 30.000 anytime at the moment, the grid destabilizes and becomes unreliable. But there's reliability in this unreliability, since you just need to take a look at the online users count and the rule of thumb...
  • Are you seated? Really? Better take a seat. Ok. Their goal is - no joke - to be able to support 10s of millions of simultaneous logins! Bwahaha! Sorry, better first fix the existing login count and make the system scale more well before planning such... high... numbers! *coughs*
  • Second Life consists of around 2.000 servers at the moment running on Debian Linux with MySQL. Debian... of all of the systems. Arg. Right, that's the linux distribution that constantly fails to deliver a new version at the planned timeline reliable (3 years was the worst delay ever, the now planned release of last December is still not there) and is there even more worse in this aspect than Microsoft can ever hope to be! No wonder so much are switching to Ubuntu. Besides, some of the packages are really outdated and some of their maintainers have real weird point of views. And MySQL - well, some still consider it still something of a toy database. It still needs to overcome that image and that's why always so many recommend LL to switch to Postgresql.
  • If the server side part is going to be opensourced or not is still in the discussion. Nothing new there. Many possibilities, not all include an opening of the source code.
  • They're looking for an IT guy who can help them scale their infrastructure from 2.000 servers up to 10.000 servers.
  • They're trying to make the LSL-implementation faster. That's nothing new so far, too, that's their Mono-Project. Testing of it should start in the second quarter 2007.
  • Something new about LSL: it was written in one week back then, and the Mono-Project will enable to script in other languages like Visual Basic or C#.
  • Some new measures under consideration to manage growth: limiting logins at the weekends and moving some of the Second Life experience to normal web servers (rubbish, this should be all in the client IMHO, this is Second Life, not Web 2.0), changes in the database infrastructure and the availability of tools that show you how much computing power your avatar needs, especially when it uses much attachments and such.

Some of it sounds nice, other things - 10s millions of concurrent logins - sound more like Science Fiction at the moment. 100.000 concurrent logins are supported at the moment? Well... yes, could be, but the SL experience then is going to be more like lag hell on earth I am afraid.

So the point is: they're aware of the problems, trying to fix them and planning big things for the future, but hopefully they're able to fix SL first.

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