The Instagram Architecture Facebook Bought for a Cool Billion Dollars
Monday, April 9, 2012 at 12:49PM
Todd Hoff

It's been a well kept secret, but you may have heard Facebook will Buy Photo-Sharing Service Instagram for $1 Billion. Just what is Facebook buying? Here's a quick gloss I did a little over a year ago on a presentation Instagram gave on their architecture. In that article I called Instagram's architecture the "canonical description of an early stage startup in this era." Little did we know how true that would turn out to be. If you want to learn how they did it then don't take a picture, just keep on reading... 


Instagram is a free photo sharing and social networking service for your iPhone that has been an instant success. Growing to 14 million users in just over a year (now 30 million users), they reached 150 million photos in August while amassing several terabytes of photos, and they did this with just 3 Instaneers, all on the Amazon stack.

The Instagram team has written up what can be considered the canonical description of an early stage startup in this era: What Powers Instagram: Hundreds of Instances, Dozens of Technologies.

Instagram uses a pastiche of different technologies and strategies. The team is small yet has experienced rapid growth riding the crest of a rising social and mobile wave, it uses a hybrid of SQL and NoSQL, it uses a ton of open source projects, they chose the cloud over colo, Amazon services are highly leveraged rather than building their own, reliability is through availability zones, async work scheduling links components together, the system is composed as much as possible of services exposing an API and external services they don't have to build, data is stored in-memory and in the cloud, most code is in a dynamic language, custom bits have been coded to link everything together, and they have gone fast and kept small. A very modern construction.

We'll just tl;dr the article here, it's very well written and to the point. Definitely worth reading. Here are the essentials: 


And now you know the secret to getting bought for a billion dollars...getting your architecture written up on HighScalability!


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