We are on the verge of what is and will probably be the greatest technical revolution since before the creation of the internet. Today nearly all major sites performances are limited by the speed of the hard drives used in servers. Most dating sites and companies like Myspace.com are using hundreds and in some cases thousands of servers in order to keep serving up pages. Hard drives are brutally slow several thousand times slower then attempting to access RAM.
This is all about to change, in the last few years Solid State Drives which are essentially RAM modules that retain information when power is turned off have been falling dramatically. Most of the projections out there say that the industry will go from 50 million in sales last year to $5 -$10 billion in sales by 2010 pretty much completely replacing the current hard drive industry.
So what does all this mean? A solid state hard drive is currently about 250 times faster at accessing data than standard hard drives. Right now my database server peaks out when trying to serve 20 million pageviews a day and I need a second server to take over some of the load and all the issues are disk/IO bound. If my database server was using solid state drives I wouldn’t have any disk issues even if I served a billion pageviews a day.
Now of course CPU and bandwidth issues would prevent me from serving 1 billion pageviews a day off a single DB server. But if I were to scale my infrastructure to handle the load of myspace using Solid State Drives I could probably do it by only adding only 5-10 new database servers and 20-25 web servers. This is a far cry from the thousands of servers myspace is currently using and I certainly wouldn’t need the 50+ tech staff that myspace has.
In summary, Solid State Drives are going to dramatically change the way the internet works. With these drives extremely low cost/ free services are possible on a truly massive scale. More importantly sites like facebook and myspace.com are going to go from having tech budgets that run into the tens of millions a year to low digit millions making them wildly profitable business.